Tuesday, June 03, 2008

# 251: The Best Things in Life are Free

Let us examine what is best for humankind; things that are free which give real and lasting meaning to the way we live. Since this is a Biblical blog, most if not all, that will be written herein, will stem from adherence to Biblical precepts.

Wisdom: No doubt, some are born with the ability to think and act wisely. But I believe most who have wisdom acquired it a little bit at a time. Since all holy wisdom comes from God, He is the one who gives wisdom. Another way of putting it: Wisdom that is free of charge can be gotten by clinging to all that comes from the mouth of God: the Christian Bible. To condense what that is can be summed up in two sentences: to actively worship by believing and obeying all that He teaches, to have an active desire to love Him as He requires, and to have genuine faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; at the same time, to desire the very best, spiritually and materially, for all people, especially the needy, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, friend or foe. That is wisdom that money can’t buy.

Godly wisdom is to think of all the outcomes which could possibly result before acting on the spur of the moment. The appropriate action should be, if possible, what is the best for all concerned parties. Remember, wisdom that is from above will always attempt to include the word “love” in the equation; without divine love, self, most often, will be the winner and not God—which is not wisdom, but worldly foolishness in the eyes of the Lord. Those who follow this rule will acquire true wisdom free of charge. It is not strange to say that Godly wisdom may sound like stupidity to most who don’t know Jesus Christ and what He stands for, even though His name may constantly be on their lips.

The greatest free gift of all is the Salvation from damnation that God offers to everyone by His grace, through His Son Jesus Christ. This free gift cannot be had by our own goodness or effort. There is no way a person can be good enough to say, "God saved me because I was good and deserved it." It is given freely when a person truly believes in a way that makes Jesus Christ their Lord (boss) and Savior. Isn’t that wonderful? Eternal life free of charge. There is a catch, however: The only evidence that a person really has possession of this gift is obedience to all that is taught in the New Testament. In other words, there is no obedience without the producing of good fruit. John 15:8. "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

Another priceless freebie is a Divine love that cannot be conjured up by our own effort. This is the selfless, powerful love that gives us the ability to love when love is not deserved, and in a realm were ordinary human love cannot function. This is a love that many "christians" do not possess, not to mention pagans. Godly love must be given to us directly from God. How do we know we have it? When the welfare of others is more important than our own, Divine love is the evidence that we truly have faith in Jesus Christ and actually belong to Him—when we live in a way that love for self can be considered as hate in comparison to our concern for those in need. Then we know with certainty that God’s Holy Spirit is living in us. That free gift of agape love gives us freedom from self-concern. That is Christianity in its purest form. Luke 14:26. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple."

Another attribute we all need is to have peace with ourselves, with others, and especially with God. The world could be in turmoil and our peace would remain intact. How do we gain this peace that defies all reasoning? We can’t buy it with money or influence. It is free and comes from God. It is similar to the peace that Jesus Christ had. He knew His destiny, who He was, and who He belonged to. When we truly know our destiny, know who we belong to, and live accordingly, one has one of the most valuable gifts in existence. This kind of peace is what is missing in the world today. Without that peace, we will be continually groping around at everything that comes along, hoping to find something that will permanently satisfy our emptiness.

There is much temporal happiness in the world, which comes and goes depending on circumstances. But what we all need is a joy that withstands all conditions, the bad with the good. This is easier said than done. Some might ask, "How can someone be joyful when they are going through a living hell?" The answer cannot be understood unless it is experienced. The worse we have it, the closer we get to what we are longing for. What I mean is, when things are so bad, we give up all hope for any good to come to us in this world. Then the day can’t come soon enough to go to a much better place to be with our Lord.

The more highly people think of themselves, and possibly with good reason, the less patience they will have with the failings of others. And isn’t that what the majority of Americans are striving for? It seems like everyone, in their own way, wants to be a big shot. Well, that is not the way it is in the Christian community, or more rightly so, the way it is supposed to be. Patience is a virtue that trouble and hardship bring. There was an old man who always prayed to God for more patience, and the more fervent his prayer, the more trouble came his way. He said to the Lord, "Lord, I pray for patience and all I get is trouble." The Lord responded , "The fruit of trouble is patience." In other words, even though patience is free, it comes by way of hardships. When we are able to put ourselves in the shoes of others (empathy), patience is not far off. When people have Godly patience, they can be reassured that their life is pleasing to God. Pray for more patience.

Are you and I kind? Let us not answer that question too quickly. Rather ask ourselves this question: Could we be kinder than we are to people who really don’t deserve our kindness because of the ungodly lives they may possibly be living? If a person is not kind, one can bet their bottom dollar that they do not belong to Christ. For those of us who are not kind, let us ask ourselves this question: why not? Most likely we are secretly selfish, and lack God’s love in our lives. That may be a hard answer, but nevertheless it is most often the truth. Let us seek God’s love so that we can be kinder.

Another thing that is free for the asking is hope. When someone is living a wretched or mediocre lifestyle, a realistic hope can give that person new life. I don’t mean a “hope-so” type of hope, like counting on winning the lottery or something of that sort. What I mean is, if you had a rich uncle who was seriously ill and his last will and testament was made out to you, now that is realistic hope. That type of hope makes life more bearable. Almighty God offers every one of us a hope that exceeds all other hopes: a hope of eternal life. Even though this hope is free, it demands that we live according to God’s rules. Hope becomes more valuable and valid when life is not going well. In fact, when life is all peaches and cream, hope is not necessary; why would anyone need hope when they have it made? And even if there is hope, it, most likely, is a shallow type of hope. That may be the reason eternal life may be nothing but beautiful, empty words to the wealthy. When there is hope, life can endure all things, even in extreme situations. Without realistic hope for a better life, life is a dead end. That could be the reason why Jesus said, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." Luke 6:20.

Goodness is a virtue that sums up much of the Christian life. One doesn’t have to pay for goodness; it is free for the taking. As a matter of fact, without goodness, there is no Christian life. Goodness is a direct result of love for God, but mostly for all concerned. What I mean is that one can’t be good to one person and then say, “I won’t be good to that person, because I don’t like him/her.” True goodness that comes from God is impartial. The love God has for us can be translated into goodness. Luke 18:19. "‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone.’" Yes, our God is a good God. And He is, or should be, our only role model. Ephesians 5:1. "Be imitators of God . . ." As we learn of Him, we must start to put it into practice to the best of our ability. The main way love can be made visible is to be good to those in need.

Thankfulness is all but missing in the world today, whereas it should be most prevalent. This is what I mean: We have so many things to be thankful for, but we take them for granted; that is called complacency. Volumes could be written on this subject; therefore, these few paragraphs won’t even scratch the surface. Being thankful in a conscious way, especially in the spiritual sense, is absolutely free and can enrich our lives more than money. That seems to say that when we are not thankful, we are robbing ourselves of many joys that are not available to many of us. For instance, does anyone deserve what God so freely gives us through faith? Absolutely not. How often do we think about the great privilege of actually being a child of God?

Once a person repents before God of their wrongdoings and accepts Jesus Christ as their Boss and Savior, they are freely forgiven of all past sins. There are many, many virtues we receive freely from God; that list is too long to explore at this time. Therefore, let me go to the physical benefits we now enjoy in this 21st century which we never give thanks for. Let us compare all the benefits we now have that were not available in the 15th century or before. Let me give a short list of things we would be without: no running water, no automatic hot water, no central heating, no indoor toilets, no electricity—that means no computers or other electronic gadgets, no gas- or electric-powered transportation, no telephones, no garbage collection, no government programs to help the needy, no fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter time (except in warmer climates), no supermarkets or department stores, no paved streets, virtually no health care or much-needed medicines, no trains, planes or cars (walking would be the main form of transportation), all clothing is washed by hand, cooking, for the most part, has to be done outside. This list could be endless. Are we thankful for all these everyday things and more that we now take for granted? I don’t think so. Try it; start being thankful to God for the everyday things we now have that make life easy. You will be surprised how much that type of attitude can cheer up a person even on a down day.

Of all the attributes in the spiritual life, prayer is my weakest link. Though I do much praying, I could do much, much more. Why is something as easy as prayer difficult for me? I don’t know why. But prayer is a powerful tool to get the attention of God’s ear. I mean prayers followed by action. How much richer our lives could be—I don’t mean material riches—if we would only pray more. It costs us nothing to pray, only will power. It is no wonder the lives of most Christians are mediocre. They lack active prayer. After today, I am going to make every effort to pray much more, not for things for myself but for the benefit of others and the Christian cause. Why don’t you bloggers do the same?

Compassion and empathy are virtues that are vital to getting closer to God. I personally have a natural form of empathy for the hurting (especially children who are handicapped, and also for adults), which is good, but it hurts and produces many tears. This form of empathy bothers me because my hands are tied, in most cases, to do anything to help. Another reason this blog was started is that I hurt and have compassion for the millions, including some of my relatives, who believe they are Christians but don’t know what the New Testament teaches as to how to live in a way to please God, along with a few atheists. If these people don’t somehow wake up to the truth, they will be going to a place of torment for eternity. This bothers me more than most can realize. Repeating, that is why this blog is mostly an emphatic warning bell to many who may think they are saved without giving hell a second thought. The possible reason for this lethargy is that they must believe hell is not real, saying to themselves, "Certainly God wouldn’t send me to a place like that; He is a loving God."

One of the most valuable gestures anyone can give that is absolutely free is a smile. A smile tells people that you like them. Remember, if one has the joy of the Lord, they have a reason to smile. Smile especially when someone is talking to you. Also try to smile when you are talking to others; this will take practice. When you are walking along the street or wherever, or when you are approaching someone, give them a smile; most likely, you may have made their day. And if not, you are at least expressing what is inside of you; hopefully the Spirit of a joyful God. In other words, a smile is the most valuable and the only thing we can give to a passing stranger. Try it; you may be surprised. Along with that, a smile, although it may be not genuine, can make our day more bearable.

The word “holy” in a Christian's point of view is to be separate from the ordinary. God says, "Be holy, for I am holy." There is much said in the New Testament about separating ourselves from the things of this world. Christians are to be involved with the things of God and Christ. And when we are involved in worldly matters, we are robbing God of time which is supposed to be dedicated to things that promote the holy cause of Jesus Christ. We are not only free to do that, but we are commanded. If we don’t, that may be evidence that we are not holy, and, most likely, do not possess God’s Holy Spirit. Think about this: God cannot be mocked. What I mean is, when we say we are Christians and don’t live the way the New Testament teaches we are supposed to, we, most likely, are pseudo- christians. Holiness is free, but it will take a lot of holy will power and self-control to live a holy life.

Holy will power and holy self-control, which again are free, are the mainstays of the Christian life. This is not only for Christians, but for all walks of life. How do we get these precious attributes? Again, all good gifts come from God. When we are one with God and we know it, God can do extraordinary things through the most ordinary people. If everyone in the world had holy will power, this planet would be heaven on earth. Even though my Christian life may be lacking in many avenues, one thing I don’t lack is will power and self-control. I think because of living in poverty and ignorance as a youth, those attributes were necessary to survive in this dog-eat-dog world. Because of what I lacked in wealth and knowledge, my self-control and will power were automatically developed. Even though we don’t have to pay for them, they take much effort at all times. I sometimes ask myself, Why did I get so involved with the things of God? I truly can’t answer that, but my guess is that what I lacked in physical niceties, I made up with spiritual values. That means even though I have little of material value, I believe I am one of the wealthiest people in the world because my eternal treasures, which are real, are in safe keeping. That is enough of my autobiography.

In conclusion, the things that have real and lasting value are free of monetary charge. Hence, the saying “The best things in life are free” is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


Anonymous said...

I have realized that in life, all of the things I was programmed to believe are "important", are for lack of a better word "crap". Everything that people value;(Money, belongings, the approval from others and need for others) are all worthless. The only thing that is valuable is making your best attempt to have a pure spirit so your connection with The Lord is as strong as possible.
When I look at this life like a game, the rules are so simple; Love and care for others more than yourself, see the Good/GOD in everyone. Live life as close to nature as possible (the way we were intended to be.)
People are rarely, if ever taught these simple rules in their youth, and they are programmed to complicate life with money, "success", sex, addictions, "education" and a lack of care for others as they step their way "up" in life.
WHY DO WE AS HUMANS MAKE LIFE SO COMPLICATED? Why can't we do the RIGHT things all of the time? Why do people do things they KNOW are wrong? How are good parents supposed to cope with the challenges their kids will face in this CRAZY world?
The parents I see seem to encourage these modern behaviors, everything from the "music" they listen to, blatent disrespect for others, homosexuality etc., ITS ALL ENCOURAGED. Most of the kids are growing up with one or no parents. They are living with "adults" who lead a "singles" lifestyle. I see a very grim future for the world and it seems as though AMERICA is leading the way down the tubes as an example for the rest of the world.
I'd like to live in a state of CONSTANT appreciation, our LORD is great, what he intended is great. I admit though that my analytical side has a hard time becoming blind to the harsh realities of our present existence. Yeah, I'm sure Obamas gonna turn it all around HAHAHAHA, it just keeps getting better.
Any how, I appreciate what you say in your blogs and understand the frustration that sometimes comes out in your writings. It seems like your positive side has a hard time tuning out the harsh reality of the current state of humanity. I'm going to start praying more too! God Bless You.

JC said...

Thanks for your realistic comment. The only thing I can say is Amen and Amen to your every word. Give me ten men/women like you and we could conquer this rebellious world for Jesus Christ. Let us continue to pray that God will do just that. jc

Unknown said...

to be absent from the body is to be present with the lord