Editor: Richard (Dick) Innes
Published by: ACTS International
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Vol. 17 – No. 0415 January 24, 2015
Thought for the week: "The United States of America did not create religious liberty; religious liberty created the United States of America." – Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Golfer Arnold Palmer has won hundreds of trophies but he never flaunts these. In his office is only one trophy on display. It is a small cup he received at his first professional win at the Canadian Open in 1955.
On his office wall is this lone framed plaque that reads:
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win but think you can't,
it's almost certain you won't.
Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.
Life's battles, challenges, successes and/or failures are all fought, won or lost in the mind.
"Keep your heart with all diligence," said Solomon, "for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
The heart in the Bible refers to the total mind: the intellect, the will, and the emotions. And that's the "mind" we need to guard with all diligence, and daily commit and trust to God.
While many friendships,
like footprints on the sea shore,
come and all too soon are gone,
God's love is like the timeless sea,
though ever changing
it still remains the same.
Like the pulse beat of eternal time,
with infinite patience
and untiring regularity,
it gives itself unendingly.
While I believe that good things tend to happen to people who consistently choose the high road, the correlation between ethics and success is a loose one at best. Thus, it's pretty hard to sincerely promote ethics by appeals to self-interest.
What's more, when self-interest is the controlling justification for moral behavior, moral reasoning is replaced by a pragmatic cost-benefit analysis that invites rationalizations and condones selfishness. When people are kind, honest, or respectful only when there's a pay-off, or obey rules only when they think the risk of punishment is too great, ethical behavior is just an investment.
Judging by the amount of lying, cheating, and other dishonorable conduct out there, it's not generally regarded as a good investment. Too often honesty and other virtues impede rather than improve chances for success. For those who are unwilling to pay dues for their integrity, ethics simply costs more than they're willing to pay.
But there is an undervalued benefit of good character, a benefit we can promote in good faith to our kids, students, and employees: people who struggle to be good and decent have better relationships. Traits like honesty, responsibility, compassion, and respectfulness may seem like expensive luxuries, but they're priceless assets when it comes to building enduring and rewarding relationships with our spouses, children, friends, and co-workers. For most people, good relationships marked by love, respect, and kindness are the best road to happiness.
When you think of it, that's really quite a pay-off.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
As Robert Edwards said, "Don't place too much confidence in the man who boasts of being honest as the day is long. Wait until you meet him at night."
I recently heard a man trying to convince his acquaintances how honest he was, which reminded me of the time I heard another man arguing about how humble he was.
When I hear statements like this, I can't help but think, "If I have to convince you I'm a gentleman, you can be pretty sure that I'm not. If I have to tell you how humble I am, already I've lost it. And if I have to repeatedly tell you I'm being honest, it's probably a good sign that I'm not. As William Shakespeare so eloquently put it: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
I don't have to talk to lie. I can do it through my body language and facial expressions. I can lie by smiling or being saccharine sweet when I'm angry, by laughing when I'm hurting or sad, by being aggressive when I'm afraid, and so on. I can lie just through my tone of voice, or by pretending that I'm feeling or thinking something that I'm not.
Friends who don't speak the truth cannot be trusted. You can't feel safe or comfortable in their company. You'll never know where they stand or where you stand with them.
As the Apostle Paul encouraged us: "We will lovingly follow the truth at all times-speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the head of the body."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be open-faced, genuine, authentic, and real—always—and be like Jesus in all my relationships. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name. Amen."
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