“I’ve learned That in the classroom, you get the lesson first, And then take the test… and… That in life, you usually get the test first”, And then Learn the lesson!
As I’m sitting here enjoying my coffee with a pastry snack, I’m thinking about “Lessons“, and Tests I’ve ‘failed’ or ‘passed’ as I’ve matured… my wife, and BGFF, doesn’t always agree with me as to my exact level of maturity, but we do agree about most of the (positive) changes I’ve made during the past 35 years or so she’s been with me. Well, if she’s happy, so then can I be…
The quote is from some writings my older brother gave me before he ‘passed’. He told me they were mine to use and add to in a way that might help others, written as a direct result of his Lessons learned.
Happiness. Quality of Life. Wellness. Comfort. We all struggle with the concepts of Happiness and Comfort in life as individuals, and I’d like to offer up a truly great resource for Learning First and being better prepared for “Life’s Tests” in a way that really can lead to happiness! For me, the Good Book is that source; it’s a Practical, Every Day Common-sense wellspring that offers us Lessons that gives us a chance at passing Life’s ‘Tests’.
What do we want in our lives; what do we want to be like? How do we want to be seen or remembered?
With that in mind, the best I can do during my coffee break is offer up some definitions, some supporting scriptures for those definitions, and let you pursue at your convenience and pleasure what you want to do with it.
Oh, and did you know that if we follow the Good Book recommendations, our lives will still be better for it even if we aren’t “Christians”? The guidelines are the same for all of us, the rewards and consequences always commensurate with our behavior… It’s just the end of things that will be… different. Think about it! G-d is fair and just to all and He is actively involved in our lives.
Here are a few positive traits we all might want others to see in us; there are other traits that are good, too! And… there are others, behaviors and traits we desire that others not see in us, that can be addressed in the future.
- Humility – To reject the appearance of greatness: G-d tells us that if we live in humility (Tit 3:2, Ephesians 4:2, Philippians 2:2-5) He (Isaiah 66:2) gives us value, gives (Proverbs 3:34) grace and (Proverbs 11:2) wisdom, guides (Psalms 25:9) us and He hears (2nd Chronicles 7:14, Isaiah 65:24, 1st John 5:14) our prayers. This doesn’t mean we can’t accept accolades or acknowledgment of successes or good deeds… just… don’t use it to place yourself always at the head of the line… Leave the boasting behind.
- Repentance – To confess and turn from wrong-doing: With G-d’s help, we judge (1st Corinthians 11:31-32) ourselves, pray for forgiveness (Acts 3:19) renounce wrong-doing, seek reconciliation (Romans 5:9-11) and live right (Acts 26:20); He forgives (Psalms 103:3, 12-14) us, restores (Jeremiah 15:19, Zechariah 3:7) us, and helps (Psalms 119:36) us to serve him. What is repentance? Looking “non-spiritually”, it simply means to turn around and “go the other way”… Wouldn’t you want to turn around if you discovered the road you were traveling on ended up in a “you-are-going-to-die-no-hope” dead end??
- Courage –To support the innocent and defenseless: G-d says (Jeremiah 2:34-35) those who “… have the lifeblood of the innocent poor “ on their clothes will see His judgment. Defend the innocent and poor (Exodus 23:2-9, Deuteronomy 24:17, Psalms 82:3-4) but don’t pervert (Ephesians 4:25) justice in doing this. The real hero is the one who has the courage to do the right thing at the right time, no matter the (Personal) consequence.
- Perseverance – To endure in the face of opposition: Encourage each other (Hebrews 3:14) to continue serving G-d and remember; He guards, (Pr 2:8) protects, and gives us (Colossians 1:11) strength to persevere. If we ‘stick with it’ we will see (2nd Timothy 2:11-12, Proverbs 2:7) victory! Never quit! We don’t know if tomorrow will come, so, make the best choices we can, finish out today and each day we are given… It’s a winning strategy!
- Honorable Behavior – To act in a way that does not destroy dignity: “Never return evil (Luke 6:27, Matthew 5:39, Proverbs 24:29) for evil“. Our aim is to respond (Luke 6:31-38) appropriately, act with honor (Romans 12:10-21) and trust in G-d who takes care (Ge 12:3, Proverbs 20:22) of us. When we return evil for evil we hurt ourselves. That doesn’t mean we can’t defend ourselves, and it most assuredly doesn’t mean we continue to accept abuse. We do not have to respond with cruelty when seeking Justice… “Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision…” *1
- Edification – To promote the greatness of others: Show esteem, respect (Philippians 2:3, 4) and consideration for others; be fair and even-handed and help them. “… Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend or stranger…” *1
- Devotion –To seek to know the Living G-d (El-Chaim): Caleb sets a wonderful example; in Hebrew his name means ‘doglike’ or ‘completely devoted;’ he was “G-d’s man!” (Deuteronomy 1:36, Numbers 14:24, Joshua 14:6-15). Ezra too, (Ezra 7:7-10) shows us that G-d takes a direct hand in our lives as we devote ourselves to serving Him.
- Self-control –To refrain from malicious, filthy and false speech: Remember that we are made (Gen 1:26-27, Ephesians 4:29-31, 5:1) in G-d’s image; our words have impact and are a reflection (2nd Corinthians 3:18, Colossians 3:8-10) of whom it is we represent. When we engage (Romans 1:28-32) ‘wrongful’ speech we imply that we are… unrighteous!
- Purity –To purge mind and body from immoral sensuality: The core of success for our commitment to G-d is (1st Cor 4:2,) living-faithfulness. This applies to us both as individuals and as a <believers> (1st Cor 5:7-11, 6:13-20) community. (Ephesians 4:3, Acts 15:19-20, 29) (Lev 18:6-18)
- Contentment –To be thankful and joyful in the present state: be joyful 1st Ti 6:6, Heb 13:5, Ps 105:3 “… When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.” *1
- Obedience –To fulfill the Covenants of G-d: G-d encourages us (Joshua 1:5-9) to obey and seek after Him; He is faithful, (Deuteronomy 30:11, Mark 2:27, Acts 16:21, Titus 3:1-2) and will never forsake us! Our ability to obey G-d only comes with our active trust in His word. First it’s practical, common-sense, and given to us for our good. The Good Book tells us G-d’s word is true from beginning to end… Our feelings can lie to us, but His word does not lie. Obedience in spite of feelings is a good path to choose… And a tough test for many of us!
- Witness –For Good, or Bad, we are all living witnesses (Mt 28:19-20, Mk 12:30-31). When others look at us what do they ‘see’? What we say (Ps 19:14, Is 12:4-6) and do impacts the world around us; G-d preserves others (Gen 18:22-33) for our sake. How we treat (Lev 19:18-19, Dt 15:11) each other, and how we interact with ‘strangers’ (Lev 19:14 & 25:35, Dt 27:18-19) in our midst is ‘vital (Mk 5:20-23) fertile ground’ for nurturing others desire to find our G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Next post, perhaps we can look at the things we definitely don’t want others to see in us…
Oh, and … “If only I’d known…” isn’t… a good… epitaph…
*1 Chief Tecumseh