My Musings – A wise former pastor of mine (now with the Lord) once said, “when you read the word therefore, you need to see what it’s there for.” Paul had just recounted the life we used to walk (anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language, to name a few), “since [we] have taken off [our] old self with its practices and have put on the new self.” That’s what it’s there for. A change of clothes. From the “filthy rags” mentioned above, to the renewed wardrobe that is “in the image of its Creator” woven out of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.“
My Advice – We are chosen and dearly loved. “Therefore,” “over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” That’s what we’re here for.
My Musing – “What is truth?” Truth has been defined as a proven or verified principle or statement (fact). A fact is something that is known to be consistent with objective (not influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions) reality (the state of things as they actually exist).
“What is truth?” No matter what is being debated, there can only be one truth. Unfortunately, it is often the case that those on both side of the debate are not really interested in the truth. They are only interested in what they want the truth to be. As a result, truth becomes an orphan. Verification is replaced with fabrication. Objectivity with opinion. Reality with fiction.
“What is truth?” I am saddened that truth has become so inconvenient to so many. I am saddened that lies and opinions (on both sides of whatever the topic happens to be) are driving so many people so far apart. I am saddened that more and more people can no longer agreeably disagree. I am saddened that we are increasingly being defined by what divides us rather than what unites us. I am saddened that “wherever the truth leads” is so distasteful to so many. I am saddened that what used to be a debate between what is true and what is not true has been largely replaced by a debate between “my” truth and “your” truth, when in reality neither are true.
My Advice – Keep seeking the truth “wherever it takes you.” When you discover the truth, embrace it. Even if it turns out to be what you do not want it to be. Finally, be nice.
My Musings – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
God gave us life and liberty (freedom to make our own choices). The pursuit of happiness is a bit more problematic. Man has a tendency to find (or think he can find) happiness in all the wrong places and with all the wrong things. More often than not, these rob us of the very thing we are pursuing. We would be better off pursuing joy (which is not dependent upon things or circumstances) rather than happiness (which usually is dependent upon things or circumstances).
Better yet, as the above verse states, we should pursue righteousness and love, which results in life, prosperity and honor. We need to remember, however, that an abundant life is more about quality than quantity, lasting prosperity has little to do with an abundance of “things” (which moths and rust can destroy) and honor has more to do with our character than it does with how much fame an adulation we can achieve. And how ironic it is, that when we get it backwards (we pursue long life, prosperity in things and honor absent humility), righteousness and love (and happiness) often eludes us.
My Advice – Let’s make sure what we pursue is not only worth the chase, but is also worth catching.
My Musings – No one wakes up in the morning with the hope that someone will manage us. We wake up in the morning with the hope that someone will lead us. The problem is, for us to be led, there must be leaders we want to follow. (From Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek).
There is no shortage of people who wish to exercise authority. Just look at the number of candidates in recent (and upcoming) elections who want to be President. As you listen to many of them, you get the idea that as much as they would like to lead, there are not many that we would like to follow. This concept is not restricted to politics. It is rampant in many businesses and organizations, and yes, even in some churches. To make matters worse, many who wish to lead, find little fault in their leadership skills, preferring to blame those they wish to lead with the inability or unwillingness to follow.
Perhaps that is one reason why Christ turned the leadership model on its head. Do you want to a leader? Then learn how to follow. You want to be seen as great? Then learn to be humble. You want to be first? Then be willing to wait in line. You want to be master? Then be willing to become a servant. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, NIV 1984).
“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.‘” (John 13:12–17, NIV 1984).
My Advice – Go and do likewise. Has a familiar ring to it.
My Musings – We usually think that a broken spirit is a negative thing. But how could God possibly forgive a proud and rebellious spirit? The text implies that God actually despises such a spirit. Genuine contrition (feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming) is not possible absent a humble and penitent heart.
My Advice – Do not allow a proud or rebellious spirit get in the way of a humble and penitent heart.
Micah 6:8 – What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV 1978)
My Musings – God requires more than justice, mercy and humility. These are just things, mere nouns. Rather, He requires that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. This transforms things into actions. Actions that saw their ultimate fulfillment with Jesus death, burial and resurrection. Jesus walked humbly to the cross. By requiring His Son’s death on that cross to pay the penalty for our sins, God acted justly. Christ’s resurrection demonstrated that God accepted Jesus sacrifice on our behalf, and that He loved mercy.
My Advice – Without a verb (action) a sentence is incomplete. Without verbs our justice, mercy and humility are incomplete. Let’s take action to ensure that we are completing what God requires.
1 Peter 5:5 – Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. Clothe yourself in humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV 1978)
My Musings – We should never be too proud to learn from the age and experience of others. This includes those who may be younger than we are chronologically, but more mature than we are in the faith.
My Advice – You’ve learned much in school, but there is much also to be learned from those who are older and have more experience. Continue to learn now that you have graduated, and even later in life when you are the elder one with more experience.