“Who is your daddy?”

A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg , TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, ‘I hope he doesn’t come over here.’ But sure enough, the man did come over to their table.


‘Where are you folks from?’ he asked in a friendly voice.

”Oklahoma” they answered.

‘Great to have you here in Tennessee,’ the stranger said. ‘What do you do for a living?’

‘I teach at a seminary,’ he replied.


‘Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really great story for you.’ And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple.


The professor groaned and thought to himself, ‘Great … Just what I need …..another preacher story!’


The man started, ‘See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, ‘Hey boy, who’s your daddy?’ Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’


He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going into stores because that question hurt him so bad. ‘When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’

But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast that he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.


Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, ‘Son, who’s your daddy?’


The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’


‘This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy.. ‘Wait a minute! I know who you are! I see the family resemblance now; You are a child of God.’

With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’


‘With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, ‘Who’s your Daddy?’ he’d just tell them, ‘I’m a Child of God.’


The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, ‘Isn’t that a great story?’

The professor responded that it really was a great story!


As the man turned to leave, he said, ‘You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!’ And he walked away.


The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over & asked her, ‘Do you know who that man was — the one who just left that was sitting at our table?’


The waitress grinned and said, ‘Of course. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper. He’s governor of Tennessee!’


“Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do.” ~ Philip Yancey

I am self-righteous.  It grieves, angers and saddens me.   It is a daily endeavor for me not to point the finger at those who are not “pulling their weight” in Christian piety.

I find myself quick to condemn sins that are not particularly challenging to me.  So far this week, as far as I know, I have not lied to a nation or cheated on my wife.  I have not purchased illegal substances for consumption in secret, and while the day is still young, I have not stolen the last breath from someone’s lungs. 

While I can say that with self-satisfaction I clearly can recall in the not to distant days being quite guilty of outbursts of rage, judging the motives of others, and lying. I have great excuses for justifying these “lesser” sins.  In addition to sitting comfortably on my self-righteous perch, I can tell you, that this week I have been unmoved by poverty, racism, sexism, genocide, human trafficking, and homelessness.

Then there’s the Apostle Paul who keeps meddling in my mind.  This spiritual sniper places sexual sins in the same list as “fits of rage,” “discord,” “dissensions,” “selfish ambition,” and “slander” – all of which bar one from inheriting the kingdom of God if not repented of (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In these texts, James, Jesus, and Paul level the playing field on sin, showing that every believer is guilty of so-called “dirt” (1 John 1:8).

For Jesus, lust and adultery are on the same par, the same with rage and murder. For Paul, slander and outbursts of rage are no less serious than fornication.

Have you heard the story about Charles Spurgeon and D.L. Moody? Pastor Frank Viola shares in his blog that, allegedly, Charles Spurgeon invited D.L. Moody to speak at an event he hosted. Moody accepted and preached the entire time about the evils of tobacco, and why the Lord doesn’t want Christians to smoke.

Spurgeon, a cigar smoker, was surprised at what seemed to be a cheap shot leveled by Moody, using the pulpit to condemn a fellow minister.

When Moody finished preaching, Spurgeon walked up to the podium and said, “Mr. Moody, I’ll put down my cigars when you put down your fork.”

Moody was overweight.

George MacDonald famously said, “I understand God’s patience with the wicked, but I do wonder how He can be so patient with the pious.”

All sin is serious.  In relationship we need to call, confront, condemn, and care for people who need God’s grace.  I am convicted today that my Pharisee like sin of self-righteousness was the chief concern of my Savior Jesus.  I grieve God’s Spirit when I self-appoint myself to be a monitor of other people’s righteousness.

Who was Jesus the most patient with?   They are the very people that I am tempted to first condemn.   In Jesus, the pyramid is inverted yet again. The person who is adept at calling “dirt” in others, but fails to see the dirt in himself/herself, is in a very dangerous place.

Every sin comes off the same tree. All sin is serious. All sin put Jesus on the cross. Therefore, we are deluded whenever we lessen the sins we’ve committed and magnify the sin of others … whatever they might be.

Thank God that Jesus has paid the price for all our sins and given us the power to walk free from their dominion.