The Measure of a Man

In the closing scenes of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Bob Ewell, a hate- and prejudiced-filled man who knowingly and wrongly accuses the black Tom Robinson of raping his daughter, attacks Scout and Jem on their way home from a Halloween event at their school, and dies when he falls on his own knife. Atticus Finch, widower and a Maycomb lawyer, is convinced that his son Jem may be responsible for Ewell's death and argues with the sheriff, Heck Tate, who contends that Ewell indeed fell on his own knife. Atticus is afraid Heck is trying to cover up for him.

"Heck [Tate]," Atticus's back was turned. "If this thing's hushed up it'll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I've tried to raise him. Sometimes I think I'm a total failure as a parent, but I'm all they've got. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him ... if I connived something like this, frankly I couldn't meet his eyes, and the day I can't do that I'll know I've lost him. I don't want to lose him and Scout, because they're all I've got."

"Mr. Finch," Mr. Tate was still planted to the floorboards. "Bob Ewell fell on his knife. I can prove it."

Atticus wheeled around. His hands dug into his pockets. "Heck, can't you even try to see it my way? You've got children of your own, but I'm older than you. When mine are grown I'll be an old man if I'm still around, but right now I'm - if they don't trust me they won't trust anybody. Jem and Scout know what happened. If they hear me saying downtown something different happened - Heck, I won't have them any more. I can't live one way in town and another way in my home."[1]

Integrity. It makes all the difference in the world; it makes all the difference for sons and daughters who look up to their fathers for guidance and direction.

This Sunday is Fathers' Day and in honor of fathers we will consider the measure of a man by looking at Titus 1:5-9. The passage is about the qualifications of an elder, and although most men will not aspire to be elders (I Tim. 3:1), these qualities define the kind of men the Lord wishes all of us to be. Read Titus 1:5-9 carefully and use the questions below to help you think through the measure of a man.

  1. How would you describe your father? What character qualities or personality traits defined him?
  2. If you are a grandfather or father, how do you think your children or grandchildren would describe you?
  3. List the qualities Paul lists here in these five verses.
  4. Using a dictionary, look up those qualities you may not be sure of and jot down a brief definition.
  5. What is the opposite of each of these qualities?
  6. Which quality catches your attention the most? Why?
  7. Which quality do you think is most needed in fathers today?
  8. Look at Proverbs 14:26. How might the qualities in Titus 1 flesh out this proverb? What is the benefit of such character?
  9. What is one thing the Lord would have you take away from this meditation on His Word?

 God be with you and see you on Sunday!

 Dan

 [1] Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (HarperCollins: New York, 1960) p. 314.