The world in which we live seems to be more take than give. The focus is more on what I can take from you than on what I can contribute; in a conversation, it’s more talk than listen; and in the marketplace, it’s more sabotage than service.
Mark Twain aptly said, “The principle of give and take is the principle of diplomacy— give one and take ten.”
The words of Twain are the motto of many, and they are akin to a concept called reciprocity. While the word may be little spoken, it is more than lightly practiced. Reciprocity is the ledger book of the mind that keeps a tab on indebtedness—Who do I owe and who owes me?
Reciprocity is the tally sheet of guilt and entitlement:
- A person who believes he has received too much and given to little may feel a sense of guilt.
- When a person thinks, he has given too much and received too little he may believe he is entitled to more, i.e. more money, recognition, etc.
If you are dissatisfied with your lot in life, I encourage you to consider three questions before you take any action:
- What is it that I wanted but did not get?
- What is it that I got but did not want?
- Am I thinking in terms that embody the Christian ethic of the Golden Rule?
While turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor as yourself, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, are laughable to some, they are principles that need to be removed from the shelf, dusted off, and put into practice.
As Paul said, we need to, Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together. . . Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts—these are poison. Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you (Ephesians 4).
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.
It seems to me that friction and factions are striking a note of discord much too frequently. Everyone is asserting their rights, and no one is willing to play second fiddle. As a result, society has lost the sweet sound of harmony.
This is evident whether you are looking inside of the church or outside of the sanctuary, and it was one of Paul’s major concerns when he wrote the letter to the Philippians. Paul knew that sweet songs of harmony are sung in the key of humility.
Humility is the love song of the church, and Paul penned the lyrics in the second chapter of Philippians:
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.~ Philippians 2:1-4
One verse of this song seems to summarize all of it: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”
A good understanding of humility is important, so I encourage you to give a little thought to these wise words :
- C. S. Lewis: Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
- Thomas Merton: Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.
- Andrew Murray: Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.
- D.L. Moody: A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility
The difference between the genuine and the counterfeit, is the difference between a juice harp and the music of the Boston Pops. One is noise, and the other is the hum of sweet harmony.
You can listen to the difference for yourself by clicking on each of these words: Juice Harp and Boston Pops.
Eyesome is a word that I had never seen or heard of until yesterday, and it means, “Pleasant to look at.” When I discovered its meaning, I thought of the words of Peter when he spoke of the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (I Peter 3:4).”
I see fewer eyesome people who are noted for their “incorruptible beauty” and “gentle and quiet spirits.” Instead, there seems to be a proliferation of people who proudly exhibit a spirit that is reckless and impetuous. This sort of person is less eyesome and more of an eyesore with a spirit that is rude, crude and arrogant.
What can you learn when you focus your eye on some of the Scripture below?
- In Ephesian 4:1-3, Paul said I “urge you to live in a way that is worthy of the calling to which you have been called, demonstrating all expressions of humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another in love. Do your best to maintain the unity of the Spirit by means of the bond of peace.
- In his advice to young Timothy, Paul instructed him to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness (I Timothy 6:11).”
- Paul emphasized the importance of gentleness when he wrote to the church at Philippi: “Let your gentleness be known to all men (Philippians 4:5).”
To be perceived as more eyesome and less of an eyesore, I encourage you to give some thought to Psalm 90:17: “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us.”
The “beauty of the Lord” does not speak of any physical feature, but it does mean that God can make you an eyesome creature. When His beauty is upon you, He will begin to develop the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious” in His sight.
In yesterday’s post to this blog, I wrote about the choices we make. Today’s post considers ego-centrism and how it can prevent you from making wise decisions:
• egocentric memory (the natural tendency to “forget” evidence and information which does not support our thinking and to “remember” evidence and information which does)
• egocentric infallibility (the natural tendency to think that our beliefs are true because we believe them)
• egocentric righteousness (the natural tendency to feel superior in the light of our confidence that we are in the possession of THE TRUTH)
• egocentric hypocrisy (the natural tendency to ignore flagrant inconsistencies between what we profess to believe and the actual beliefs our behavior imply, or inconsistencies between the standards to which we hold ourselves and those to which we expect others to adhere)
• egocentric blindness (the natural tendency not to notice facts or evidence which contradict our favored beliefs or values)
Now that you are aware of the detrimental influence of ego-centrism, let me suggest some questions you need to ask yourself:
• What does the Bible says about my situation
• Who can help me understand the Biblical principles that apply to my situation?
• Am I the only one who has this interpretation of the events?
• Do I have all the facts, and have I given honest consideration to all viewpoints?
• Is it so personal and emotional that my interpretation of the event is biased?
• What motives are influencing my decision?
• What are my blind spots?
After asking yourself the questions above, I suggest you give prayerful consideration to the verses that follow:
• Proverbs 2:6: For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
• Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
• Proverbs 16:2: All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord evaluates the motives
• Proverbs 18:1-2: One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment. A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions
• Proverbs 18:13,17: The one who gives an answer before he listens—this is foolishness and disgrace for him . . . The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.
I’ll end with this footnote: To make good decisions and to resolve personal issues, you need to let go of your ego.