A wealthy man had only one son. Because he had no other children, this boy whom he named Anthony was very special to him. From the time he was a little baby, his little boy had everything money could buy. His nursery room resembled a baby shopping center; he had so many toys that it was impossible to play with all of them before they were outgrown. As he grew, the baby toys were removed and replaced with toddler games and other innumerable toys. Anything a little boy of that age would want, Anthony received.
He had several closets bursting with clothes, shoes and coats. There was so many that he grew out of some clothes before he even had the opportunity to wear them. There was also no restriction on what he ate and whatever food Anthony desired and however much he wanted it was always available. He was so spoiled that he could do whatever he wanted.
However, instead of being happy, by the time Anthony reached about 12 years old his father began to notice that his son was very discontented. Anything that he was offered Anthony refused, but wanted something else, throwing tantrums that upset the whole house. He was one very unhappy boy!
It would be most children’s dream to have whatever their hearts desired, but here was a boy who had everything and was not happy. Why? Nothing was held back from him—food, clothes and toys—nothing satisfied him and his father did not understand or know what else he could do about it.
Anthony had developed some really bad habits of arguing, believing he knew everything about anything and that he could do anything he wanted. He would just throw his clothes down anywhere without picking them up and he was never satisfied. He looked down at a lot of people around him, considering himself better than they were.
Out of desperation, the father shared his concern about Anthony with his wise, old Christian friend who gave him some advice. Anthony had never been disciplined or denied anything, so he did not know the meaning of the word no! There had never been any boundaries set in place, so there was nowhere that Anthony could feel safe so he became unhappy, discontented, rude and very grumpy.
The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. Poor little Anthony! His father had not followed God’s counsel and he had not been rightly trained as a child, causing his son to have such big problems that nobody wanted to be around him.
Father’s friend offered to take Anthony home with him and teach him some manners to help him get rid of his bad habits. One day as they walked through the garden he suddenly stopped and asked the boy to pull out a tiny plant. Thinking how easy that would be to a boy who thought he could do anything, Anthony confidently held the plant between his thumb and forefinger and pulled it out easily with a big smile of accomplishment.
Walking on a little farther, the old man asked him to pull out a slightly bigger plant. Anthony pulled hard and the plant came out, roots and all. Of course Anthony’s smile was big because it was so easy!
“Now pull out that one,” said the old man pointing this time to a bush. Anthony looked at the size of this bush and with confidence proceeded to pull. The boy used all the strength he could muster and it finally came out. Of course, there was another proud smile!
“Now take this one out,” said the old man, pointing to a fruit tree. Anthony’s confidence was soaring so he grabbed the trunk and tried to pull it out, but it would not budge. “It’s impossible,” said the boy all out of breath because of the effort he had exerted.
“So it is with bad habits,” said the old man. “When they are young it is easy to pull them out, but when they take hold they cannot be uprooted.”
That session with the old man changed the boy’s life. Anthony understood the lesson the old man taught him, comparing his ugly habits with the different sized roots of each plant. That lesson, along with the prayers they shared, changed the boy’s life. When he went home to his father his whole attitude had changed and he was a new boy, much happier, as was everybody else around him.
Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” Consider the meaning of this verse after reading about Anthony.