That I can’t change myself Unless I accept who I am, and am willing to hear the Truth about myself*1
As I sip my coffee and bite into my coffee-companion bread, I remember how much I knew I knew as a ‘smart’ young adult! Today, I’m reminded about my thought processes and attitude, as that biased, naive, clueless, young man when ‘listening to or overhearing’, on occasion, young college students in conversation with one another – and it reminds me of something Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) has been credited with saying, “… when I was seventeen I couldn’t bear to have my Father around while we were discussing important questions but when I was twenty-five it was wonderful to see how the old man had improved. Some college students think their opinions on subjects are final – poor chaps, they sure have another guess coming.”*2
Some years ago, after completing an Essay Style Exam, I began thinking about a possible future-review of my essay answers for better, personal, understanding. As a young man, I had cause to recognize that there might be a bit of an ‘unpleasant side’ to my nature… As I considered and wrote in my answers on that exam, I was reminded about them and – that it had taken a while for me to begin to address… and I don’t think I’ll ever stop working to find the ‘better’ side of ‘me’. Why? Well, it’s just the right thing to do…
As happens with many others, it took ‘real‘ life experience for me to begin to understand my personal ‘short-comings‘. It took some tough losses… a lost love, lost friends, a false friend or three, and a couple of really tough, no nonsense friends to help me accept who I was and to begin turning away from the “ass” I seemed intent on becoming.
Changing was not easy, fast, or smooth, but after nearly 36 years of marriage to one woman… My wife tells me that, for the most part, it’s been a positive change. Yes, I do understand that, for my toughest critic, I won’t get a real ‘pass‘ on that until my ashes are scattered…
She did encourage me when she told me that she wouldn’t recognize me today as the man she met 36 years ago… I’m certain she wasn’t referring to the powerful, sleek “panther” she met, and married, over the fat old ‘cat’ lounging on the living room sofa…
Nevertheless, I’m thankful that there is such a thing as “The Good Book“, and that it’s practical common sense ‘advice’ makes it… easier to bring us to correct our direction as we travel Life’s paths.
For all of us, there are at least some personal things we don’t desire to have known about ourselves. Are any of the traits listed below some of them?
When we recognize unhealthy habits or traits within ourselves, what do we do to ‘fix’ it? If we see a bit of ourselves in the following, it’s not hopeless; 2nd Peter 3:8-9 encourages us that G-d is patient with us and gives us a chance to ‘change’; Psalm 103 also encourages us that HE hasn’t treated us as our sins deserve – HE is patient with us but… we shouldn’t wait until tomorrow. Why? Well, we haven’t been given ‘tomorrow’, yet, and really don’t know that we’ll see tomorrow!
Well, here’s a few things we might recognize and want to ‘correct’ from within! By no means is it a full list, and not meant to be; just something for us to consider:
Sedition – Action, or speech that is meant to usurp authority or incite rebellion
Numbers 16 – The incident, mentioned here, with the man ‘Korach’, offers a graphic example of the results of sedition; Korach wanted control. He was an extraordinarily wealthy man… And he wanted more… He stirred up discontent (sedition) against Moses. While his target was Moses, his actions were (treason) against G-d. The results for him and his followers were… not good.
Acts 5:33-39 – Here, Gamaliel is speaking about the results of treason against Roman law, and giving caveat against participation in pursuit of punishment (treason against G-d) towards the innocent.
Romans 13:1-3 – Obey governing authority; to resist (treasonous behavior)lawful governing authority is wrong. I’m not talking about lawful protest, but I do believe that unlawful rioting is firmly labeled under seditious actions.
Backbiting – Saying mean or spiteful things about a person who is not present
Rom 16:17-18 “…watch out for those who cause divisions … avoid them… “
Proverbs 6:16-19 Tells us sowing discord among brothers (or family, or friends) is … unhealthy.
James 4: 1-11 “Where do all the fights and quarrels…come from? …They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you.” In verse 11 he says, “Don’t speak evil of one another.”
James tells us that at the heart of this are… selfish desires. When he writes, “You want things (but can’t have them) so you are ready to kill,” It’s possible he was referring to (Deut 27:24) the social crimes of evil speech, or ‘rumor-participation’. Deliberate slandering or propagation of rumors (even if true ) is character assassination or… killing in secret. It’s something which brings a curse on an association, group of friends, family or even a community!
Proverbs 25:18 “Like a club… sword and sharp arrow Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor.”
Pr 19: 5 & 9 – “The false witness will not go unpunished…and will not escape.” (9) “A false witness will not go unpunished, and …will perish.”
Arrogance and Pride – Demonstrating overbearing Pride, along with showing Disdain or contempt towards others
Pr 16:18, 19 –“Pride goes before destruction… a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a humble spirit… “
James 4:6 – Here, we’re reminded that G-d opposes the arrogant while he gives grace to the humble.
Gal 5:22-23 – Meekness (patient assertiveness) is one of the fruits of the Spirit – qualities that we must possess rather than arrogance. Many assume that ‘meekness’ is an undesirable character trait; that is a case of mistaken identity! It is a ‘patient strength‘ and demonstrates a really special level of personal control! We are told to “…beware the wrath of a patient man”, and I believe the reference is to the ‘meek’… man.
Pr 8:13 “…I hate pride…arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech”. Arrogance is not a character trait we want, and it won’t be pleasant for us to discover that our arrogance will cause us to fail when facing true strength.
Disobedience to, and Disrespect Towards, Parents –
Pr 17:6, 25 “A foolish son is a source of grief to his father and sorrow to his mother”
Pr 19:13 “A foolish son is the calamity of his father…”
Pr 19: 26 “One who robs, brings violence or harm to his father and chases away his mother, is a son that causes shame, and brings reproach…”
Dt 21:18-21 – “Even when young we see serious trouble for disrespect of parents…”
Col 3:20-21 – “Please the L-rd… respect and obey parents; please the L-rd… treat children with respect also.”
Ephesians 6:1-4, This is a promise that good things come from giving honor to our parents.
Reference to children is included for a particular reason; in treating our own children with respect we actually give honor to our parents and to G-d!
Even when we’ve been through a “rough” upbringing, the recommendation is to do our best to give ‘Honor’ to our parents… How can we do that?
Does not talking about ‘our mistreatment’ in front of our children and grand-kids make sense to you? Think about it – we bring honor to our family name, and pass that along to our heirs! We… bring a halt to a ‘bad‘ inheritance and honor G-d.
We help ourselves when we ‘separate out,’ or make a distinction for ourselves between two things – We absolutely cannot live with the conflicting emotions of “Love and Hate” towards the same individual; it will, emotionally, at least, tear us apart! So…
1. “If we were mistreated, we can indeed HATE the behavior!”
2. “When we do that, we can begin work on our ‘feelings’ towards the errant parent(s).”
Hey! Never said , “It’s easy!” But, it most certainly is a target behavior, and it is doable.
As adults we’re past the ‘disobedience issue. When we work out the “disrespect towards…” issue, we’ll find we’re really walking towards a path of peace for ourselves.
Disrespect of Elders
Ex 21:15-17; Lev 20:9 – Abuse of parents whether it is verbal or physical is disobedience of parents, disrespect for elders and contempt of G-d; the penalty is severe.
Lev 19:32 – I believe the heart of “showing respect” towards the ‘elder’ is within this instruction; by not doing so we dishonor G-d who is the source of wisdom.
Revenge/Spite – Demonstrating ill will or hatred and Returning evil with evil
Lev 19:18 – “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as (because he IS like) yourself. I am the L-RD”.
Rom 12:19 – ‘Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for G-d’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.’
Ex 23:1 – “You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.”
Taking revenge may seem like it’ll bring us personal peace, but does it really do that? Will it really bring us closure? I think that is why the Good Book advises us to… seek justice and to …not pervert Justice. If the ‘Law’ doesn’t help, then there may be options , other than revenge, but be aware – Some ‘paths‘ can create changes within our psyche that are not ..’pleasant’.
Prejudicial or Judgmental Behavior – Basic, harmful or unfair bias in thinking and seeking ones own ‘brand’ of justice
Mat 7:1-5 Attempting to displace G-d’s justice with personal desire to see suffering for the wrongdoer isn’t a good path for us to take.
Ps 103 emphasizes G-d’s love for all of us; this Psalms reminds us that He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. At the same time… it is a guarantee that the evildoer will see…G-d’s Justice.
John 7:24 There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment; identifying wrong-doing is not wrongful judgment of the person; but don’t displace the rule of Law!
One last thing; when we decide to change, it’s an internal decision, and we’re trusting G-d’s word is true (that’s faith). When we, having decided to change, start taking physical actions, and doing good things rather than bad, that is the ‘works‘ part of our decision, and brings Light to our new way of living… and that is a good thing!
*1 – Taken from a collection of ‘observations’ my older brother, “Skeet” gave me to use and add to…
*2 – note; Samuel Clemons’s father died when Samuel was 11 years of age. This quote was first seen and credited to Mark Twain approximately 5 years after his (Mark Twain’s) death