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Real Answers™
Copyright: ©2007 James J. Jackson
700 words


By: James J. Jackson

Remember the comedic line,"The devil made me do it!"?  It seems that most people today are quick to claim victim hood.  Few seem willing to take responsibility for their own actions.  People accuse others of leading them into illegal or immoral acts.  Few seem willing to behave in a manner that is above reproach.  What does it really mean to live beyond reproach?

Washington D.C.'s former mayor Barry, when caught using drugs in a hotel room, exclaimed, "the (expletive) set me up!".  If he had refused to allow drug use to be a part of his life, no one could have ‘set him up’.  A Congressman whose name showed up in a prostitute’s phone book claimed he was ’set up’ by his political opponents.  Had they committed themselves to living above reproach, it would have been impossible for them to be ‘set up’.

By contrast, Evangelist Billy Graham, decided early in his life that he refused to allow even a hint of impropriety in his life.  He refused to be in a room alone with a woman other than his wife, daughter, sister or other immediate family member. He would carefully consider who he would allow himself to be seen with, where he would go, and what he would participate in, so as not to be found in a compromising position, or cause others to wonder about his honor and/or honesty.  As a result of his decision, along with deep personal integrity, Mr. Graham was never in the midst of any such controversy. 

Living beyond reproach means to order one’s life so as not say or do things or be in places intentions could be misconstrued.  A person who strives to live above reproach constantly considers the manner in which his or her actions appear to others.  Perception often carries nearly as much weight as fact.  You should constantly ask yourself,  “How will it look to those who respect or look up to me?”  Living above reproach does not mean one has to be perfect, which is impossible.  It means to purpose and strive to make sure that the image you project is one of uprightness and honor.

Nowhere is this concept more important than in the parent/child relationship.  Children are so impressionable, and often revere their parents so much that they mimic their behavior, good or bad.  Parents have a responsibility to conduct themselves in an honorable manner at all times, because failing to do so not only effects the life of the parent, but the lives of those who look up to him or her.  The Bible warns us to take care not to lead others into sin,  (1Cor:8; 13), "Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."

My nephew, Ronnie, is a guard at a large penitentiary.  He expresses the sadness of seeing families consisting of two, and sometimes, three generations of felons serving time at the same facility.  He is involved in an effort to counsel prisoners to help them to see the error of their ways to avoid recidivism.  He has been amazed that, in most of these situations, the father, son and grandson have been convicted of the same type of crime.  Role modeling obviously works well (even negative role modeling).

Ronnie’s group focuses on helping inmates to admit responsibility and change their mindset.  Most inmates claim total innocence, or blame others for their incarceration.  If they can help the inmate to realize that it was the inmate’s decision not to be above reproach that led to the current situation, it is often the beginning of healing.  Only then can he realize that the problem began with being with the wrong people or becoming involved in criminal activity, and jail was the direct result.

Even those who strive to live beyond reproach sometimes find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, but, overall, if people try to order their lives as God urges them to, they largely avoid dire circumstances such as imprisonment, poverty, crime, etc.  It boils down to making the right life decisions. Proverbs 10:9 tells us,  “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”


"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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