My dad left me a legacy of honesty. I can still hear him saying to Mom, "Pay this bill right now."
Employers today find it hard to find workers who will put in an honest day's work. Many want the pay check, but they have adopted the philosophy, "I'll do it if I feel like it" or "This is not my job description."
I'm thankful that I learned a work ethic from my dad and others. The Bible teaches these same principles.
Pay on Time
In his latter years Dad suffered from emphysema. Until he became too weak to walk to the mailbox, he always took care of the bills. He never allowed them to pile up. He believed the maxim, "Owe to no man anything" (Romans 13:8).
Because of his illness, later he gave up taking walks and driving. Dad still wrote checks right after he received a bill, put it in the envelope with the invoice, and sealed it. Then he handed it to Mom and said, "Put this bill in the mailbox now."
Dad never went into debt. He did not believe in paying on time. Instead he even paid for his house and his car with cash. He only used his Shell Oil card for gas when he traveled. He paid that bill as soon as it came in the mail.
Set not Your Heart on Riches
Dad was a gentle man. When his emphesema forced him to retire, he leased out his farm to a friend. The lessee lost some land he owned. Prices for the crops he grew went downhill. Rather than let this man go because he could not afford to pay, Dad accepted a lesser amount. He followed the teaching in Psalms 62:10 not to set his heart upon riches.
Dad believed in providing honest things before all men. He showed his honesty in his behavior toward Mom. He never cheated on her. By his example he taught me to live a clean, moral life.
Sally* did not follow my Dad's maxims. Her anger got out of control. She did not care what happened to her as long as she hurt her mother. One day when her mother was not at home, she stole her checkbook and forged the signature. She ended up in jail with a huge fine.
After this experience Sally decided that she did not ever want to go to jail again. She wrote no more hot checks. She learned the hard way that it pays to provide honest things before others.
My dad did not try to hurt others to get even. Paul* said, "I'll take a little from this establishment that is hurting the people. It'll serve them right." God said, "Vengeance is mine." He will take care of wrong business practices.
Ralph* went to work for an employer who cheated his customers. He talked to the boss, but he said, "It's all right. Just turn your back and walk away." Ralph quit that job and looked for another just as my Dad would have done.
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., founder of Bob Jones University, used to say, "It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right."
Treat your Employer Right
Dad worked as an engineer for Shell Oil before he started farming. He served his boss well, not just when he was looking, but all the time. He practiced Colossians 3:22: "Servants, obey in all things your masters…; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart."
He did not do as Onesimus in the Bible who was an unprofitable servant unto Philemon, his master. After Paul led this slave to the Lord, he became a profitable servant. Paul urged his master to receive him in the same manner as Paul himself. He wrote, "If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have it written it with mine own hand, I will repay it" (Philemon 18-19).
Onesimus had treated his master wrong in the past, but now had become profitable. Now he would do as my dad taught me: put in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.
Treat your Employees Right
James wrote of employers who cheated their employees out of their pay. He said the Lord heard their cries. These dishonest men enjoyed luxury (James 5:1-5).
Dad did not treat his hired men this way. He treated them right. When Mom was working, he came in early from the fields and helped me prepare the noon meal for his men.
Once when food was being passed around the table for the hired men and our family, my little brother got overlooked. He spoke up and said, "Hey, when do I get something to eat?" The men never neglected him after that incident. Dad gave unto his hired men what was just and equal as Colossians 4:1 instructs us.
My dad kept his sense of humor up until the end. Not long before he passed away, I lay on the couch with my bare feet by Dad. He reached down and tickled my feet. He still had spunk! Usually, I do not like my feet tickled, but it felt good that day.
As my Dad taught me, It is always right to do right, and wrong to do wrong. However, folks will tell you, "It all depends on the situation." Do not listen to this lie. Remember God said, "Thou shalt not steal" (Exodus 20:15). Wash dishes, scrub floors, mow lawns, or whatever you have to do to get what you need.
People talk about little white lies, but I never heard my Dad teach that was all right and I can't find where God okays them in His book. When you tell a lie, you always have to tell a bigger one to cover up. They grow and grow and grow until you get yourself in a predicament.
Now my Dad has departed this life, but I remember the legacy he left. God encourages me to listen to my father. He that is dead yet speaks to me.
*Some names have been changed in this article to protect privacy.