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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: Setting A Bad Example

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  January 17, 2018 --

Have you ever said of someone that he or she was setting a bad example? I have news for you: each one of us at one time or another has set a bad example. Many times we are not even aware of doing so. More often than not it is also unintentional. We can’t help ourselves; it is part of human nature. Sometimes teachers try to set before us examples of people doing the right thing. But I think it is more instructional to learn about people doing the wrong thing. Certainly the people who wrote the Gospels seemed to think so. Search through all four Gospels and you will find that Jesus is the only one presented who never sets a bad example. The variety of ways of doing the wrong thing is endless, and if the Gospels were twice as long they would probably have twice as many examples.

The Old Testament, also, is full of its own bad examples. King David, one of the better people in the Old Testament, fell in love with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, and treacherously arranged for Uriah to be killed in battle. David’s son, Solomon, despite his great wisdom, made many bad choices, some of which led eventually to the division of his Kingdom after his death.

Of course the greatest bad example in scripture is Satan himself, who tries to tempt Jesus into doing various things that would have set very bad examples if Jesus had not resisted. Then we have King Herod, with his slaughter of the innocents, among many other bad deeds. And even if we look at the twelve disciples we have Judas betraying Jesus, Peter denying him three times, and doubting Thomas.

What messages should we take away from all this? Firstly, the reminder that none of us is perfect; we all have the ability to make bad mistakes, even calamitous mistakes. Being forewarned of this possibility, we should be more alert to the danger. Secondly, we should be more charitable in our reaction to other people’s foibles and missteps. In the long run we are no better than they are. And lastly, God knows we are less than perfect, and will forgive us if we seek forgiveness and will raise us up and restore us to wholeness if we are truly sorry for what we have done.



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