A Secret to Success: Be Humble

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Have an enjoyable Labor Day Holiday weekend all of you in the USA.


How do you expect to get ahead?

Harsh Boss – image from pixabay.com

Contrary to what some aggressive people espouse being humble often leads to a more sane successful life.

Rushing around, applying “The Law of the Jungle” (The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling) to human life or “Dog eat dog” ( Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006. Reproduced with permission) in our effort to get ahead may contribute to our gaining material success. But, what impact on our conscience will that success have?

Dear readers you know I am about to recommend a “kinder gentler” approach . . .

. . . because it is very much a part of the Christian experience. Yet I see that it goes beyond just being fair and just; it is more about the spirit of love, empathy and kindness but, above all having a servant’s attitude.

Selfless Servant – image from pixabay.com
Leaders such as: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are well known examples.

Yet about 2000 years ago Jesus Christ challenged the Hebrew hierarchy to abandon legalism and adopt a spirit of love: Manifest GOD’s Love to all people through fairness, justice, compassion and accountability.

Jesus Washes Feet – image from pixabay.com

Those who expected the messiah to be a military leader were disappointed when Jesus called all to emulate his examples:

John 13:1-20 ESV 

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. …

Luke 22:24-27 ESV 

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

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Is Honesty the Best Policy

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Is it possible to be honest all the time?

As I grew from childhood into adulthood I took the instruction from my family and church seriously concerning telling the truth (even though I saw a wink from a family member now and again). Movies and television programs (especially for young people) proclaimed the merits of being honest as a way to a better life.

My Father Explained What a White Lie Was

Truth or Lie – image from pixabay.com

My mom smacked his shoulder and they both laughed when my dad began to explain to me what a “Little White Lie” was. In school, in church and on Kid’s TV I did not get an explanation so I remained puzzled.  This conundrum followed me into my teens when my idealism peaked and matters such as misused truth, deception, hypocrisy, politics and human to human manipulation troubled me a great deal. Mostly I just struggled to navigate daily life always weighing these issues trying to reconcile the ideal with the reality I found. During my time serving in the U. S. Army the contrast between the touted ideal and reality was at its greatest contrast – I will not go into details save soldiers have a history of decadent behavior when off duty for one thing.

Deception – image from pixabay.com

In College I was Immersed in Postmodernity . . .

. . . and was unaware of it for many years.  I am a lifelong learner so eventually I acquired philosophical knowledge and a keen sense of comprehensive thinking (I am a product of a liberal education in that I do question everything and attempt to make sense of what I discover). Mankind experienced great failures in science and morality and this was perplexing so a philosophical upheaval set humanity on a strange course (see the following):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism

In a logic class I learned about faulty reasoning and fallacies: this gave me a great deal of understanding but did not solve the dilemma concerning “absolute honesty”.  One variable is how one defines honesty and whether it is in an ideal or in a practical sense in which we refer.  Words (languages) are powerful and can be used to a person’s advantage without too much trouble especially to the unsuspecting.  I could introduce situations where lying saved a life or lives but that may be an exception and it will do little or nothing in the quest to solve of the core issue at hand: how do we really define honesty and can we be honest all the time?.

Excuses – image from pixabay.com

Midway in my life – 35 years old – I became a Christian: “My dilemma is solved I thought”

Not so fast.  Rather than offer my analysis let us inspect what GOD has to say in The Holy Bible and thus allow you to ponder the questions about honesty for yourself. I already expect the comments will reflect whether or not, you are a follower of Jesus Christ (have The Holy Spirit as a helper), you believe in GOD at all or are a secular humanist:

Exodus 20:16 ESV 

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Proverbs 12:22 ESV 

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Matthew 5:37 ESV 

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Colossians 3:9 ESV 

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

 

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Can You Take Bad News

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– image from pixabay.comBad News

We all want to hear about the good stuff . .

. . . and hope we can avoid the bad stuff for as long as possible.  Yet reality is handled better when we are willing to accept life for what it really is: temporary, not guaranteed and often a struggle.

Jesus Teaches – The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Jesus Tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed August 8, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/78fae890-a397-0134-1340-00505686a51c

We all are born, we live and then we all must die: there cannot be anything more probable than death. To live well in the meantime there is a lot of guidance from both human wisdom and religious dogma. Yet sorting through a myriad of do’s and don’ts it sometimes is hard to really know what is true or what applies.  For Christians the matter becomes simplified when we discover “there is nothing new under the sun” – to borrow a line from Solomon’s utterances. The Biblical record can help a great deal: especially Proverbs. Our nature is what it is and believing this helps everyone who believes it, to live a better life and to treat each other better in the process. Jesus boiled it all down to two commandments:

 

Matthew 22:36-40 ESV 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

GOD gave us the freedom to make mistakes . . .

. . . but GOD did not ignore us after creation; GOD gave guidance and knowledge and the ability to discern thus, we can avoid the worst life has to offer.

Free to Choose – image from pixabay.com

And here it comes: yes there is evil and yes there is sin and we are capable of both.

1 John 1:8 ESV

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

I have written several times that even the best of us humans are not perfect and not without sin, neither can we do good to overcome it nor, can GOD ignore it. Sorry if that is an unwelcome revelation but it still is true; it is not what I made up it comes from the Bible as a whole and it is a clear description of the character and standards of GOD.

Romans 8:7-8 ESV

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Salvation – image from pixabay.com

GOD provided a way for us to climb out of

. . . hole by first instructing us in the Scriptures and then giving us the work of Jesus Christ who paid the price for sin so that we can avoid eternal damnation just by believing what Jesus accomplished, with our whole heart and mind.

Acts 3:19 ESV

Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

 One last thought:

Don’t think you can outwit GOD

 

Isaiah 55:8 ESV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

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Why Strive for Good Against Evil

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JFK said on September 12, 1962 “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, . . .”*

*https://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm

Apollo – Saturn 5 – image from pixabay.com

And so any worthwhile endeavor  seems to put a challenge before us, including the struggle against Evil.

Galatians 6:9 ESV 

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

As a Christian no period in history has been free of opposing forces: persecutions from without and corruption from within.  Should we give up  opposing evil and promoting good? NO.

Ephesians 6:12 ESV 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

We know the standard GOD presents in the Bible cannot be achieved by ourselves alone.

Help from GOD- image from pixabay.com

We need Jesus.  Jesus satisfied “The Law of GOD’s requirement that sin be dealt with”; now we have eternal life but the struggle against evil continues (even within the best of us). Should we give up?

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

 

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What Mosaics Teach Us

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Part of Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

Mosaics create an image that becomes clearer with distance.

History can give us a clearer picture when we examine the past objectively and in detail as its polarization diminishes and our objectivity begins to dominate.  More important? We can gain a better understanding of ourselves by doing the same thing: self examin, consider different choices or seek new information for ourselves. If we learn from this we may even chart a new course expecting a better outcome. If you desire to acquire a good foundation for living well, doing good and opposing evil examine The Book of Proverbs in The Old Testament.

Proverbs 24:1-34 ESV

Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble. By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, …

 

Part of Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

Galatians 6:3-5 ES

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

 This analysis works on many levels: sports, relationships, diplomatic endeavors . . . etc.

By the examination of a society or a culture we can learn a great deal about success and failure; hopefully what we learn may provide an opportunity to avoid mistakes made by our ancestors.

Part of Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

1 John 1:9 ESV

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 Sounds so easy but the historical record would indicate something different: Doing the right thing is hard.

Yes sadly it appears to be more difficult to make significant improvements than logic may infer. Perhaps freewill, ego, personal interests and persistence to maintain ignorance conspire to foil even the most logical and obvious alterations for “the good”. Something as simple as “Trusting GOD” does not appear to ever last long or become a universal concept. There are always recalcitrant individuals and backsliders it seems.

Part of Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

Matthew 5:10-12 ESV 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 The cycles between good and bad times of the Hebrews written in the Biblical Book of Judges exhibits this human tendency oh so well.

The pattern goes something like this: When the people stray from GOD’s plan and drift away and even worship of false gods calamity is the result. When things get so bad that the people cry out to GOD for help a leader emerges (called by GOD) who restores the right relationship with GOD. The people prosper once more for a time but, the next generation that only knew good times is susceptible to falling into sin and disrespect for GOD once again . . . . and so the cycle continues.

Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

Judges 8:33-34 ESV

33 As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. 34 And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side,


But that sort of thing cannot happen today; to Christians, here in the United States can it?

 

Of course it can and often does; it is even playing out this very moment. However GOD is slow to lose patience, slow to anger and willing to allow you  (all of us) to repent.  Why not do so right now before it is too late and let Jesus into your heart..

Psalm 103:8 ESV 

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

 

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