Cheaper by the Dozen is the charming biographical story of the efficiency expert and father of twelve, Frank Gilbreth, who lived in the early 1900s. His contribution to modern life includes fungible scaffolding, the touch typing system, and improving efficiency in countless procedures such as extracting tonsils, laying bricks, and language learning.
But he’s most famous for his energetic brood of six boys and six girls, who from an early age were all tonsil-free prodigious polyglots, who could touch type, communicate in Morse code, and lay bricks with alacrity.
Many people wondered how he kept control of such a lively litter. The answer lay in the remarkable obedience of his children. The kids loved, trusted, and respected their parents, and never wanted to let them down. Being disobedient to their father was considered unthinkable. If you asked any of them why they were so efficient in their use of resources, so dedicated to self-improvement, and why they enjoyed being part of a large family, their answer would be simple: Because I’m my father’s child.
Efficiency was in their genes. They were born into a family culture in which waste was deplored, economy was prized, and synergy was expected. These were the mores embodied and modeled by Mr Gilbreth himself. The children imbibed their dad’s nature, his methods, and his values, much the way we do when we become children of God.
Christians long for holiness and strive for sanctification. And we do it because we are offspring of a holy Father. The longing for holiness is due to our new nature and our new Father.
1. Your New Nature
1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.
Just before Peter issues the command to be holy he provides an instruction that gives a hint as to what holiness is, by describing what it is not.
Consider the phrase “the passions of your former ignorance.” “Passions” is the word for strong desires, or lusts. Before you were saved you had strong desires for evil, but after adoption into God’s family your heart experiences a new craving: for holiness.
Holiness is desiring the opposite of what your old nature used to hanker for. You wanted money, you pined after physical pleasure, you craved comfort and ease and possessions and recognition and respect. But that’s okay, because you were just being dumb. You didn’t know any better; it was your “former ignorance” (1:14). But now you do know better. So live like it. That is Peter’s point.
Everyone is born sinful, without free will to obey God, thanks to Adam’s fallen DNA. Unholiness is in our genes. Kids lie, cheat, and steal with alarming dexterity, and without any training. Humans are “sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2-3).
But being born again in Christ imbues us with a new nature; fresh DNA of a new creature. When holey jeans are patched, they aren’t made new. Our genes are tainted, but at salvation we receive our Father’s holy genes. This is why you desire holiness: your new nature. But also because you want to be like your new Father.
2. Your New Father
1 Peter 1:15-16 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
We love our Father and he is holy. So we want to be like him.
You know that kids emulate their parents. For a period in my childhood my favorite toy was an electric shaver. I desperately wanted to shave. Even though a 5 o’clock shadow took me ten years to grow, I wanted to be like my dad… now.
Our perfection will only be consummated in glory. But if you love Jesus, you can’t wait to be like him now!
That’s why unbelievers disobey the word, because they couldn’t care less about pleasing God. He is not their Father. Their sin is pleasing self and Satan. In a real sense Satan is their father.
1 John 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Who is your Father?
If God is your Father, holiness is in your genes.