Editorial: February 2012
All of us have been blessed with millions of gifts. However, everyone is denied a few things. If your focus is on things you do not have, you will always be unhappy. If you choose to focus on the things you have, you will be grateful and will develop an irresistible desire to share, contribute and give. This will make you happy.
The most precious things in life come for free. For example, the life we live, the body we have, the air we breathe. But most people live lives feeling deprived and deficient, when you can be totally fulfilled and abundant. For success in life, we should shift our focus to 'how can I add value to others,' instead of 'what can I gain.' All selfish people are unhappy and you will be happy to the extent you turn unselfish.
In every situation you have a fundamental choice. You can be unhappy, or you can be cheerful. You can have the best of things, but still be miserable. On the other hand, you may have nothing, but still be happy. The difference is in the attitude.
What the world offers is temporary, fleeting. If you understand the transient nature of the world, you will be happy. Enjoy the world, always remembering that it will pass. Give only the right value for what you have. When you search for the permanent, the journey becomes thrilling, irrespective of what you have, or do not have. When your attitude changes, your life will change from drudgery to revelry and mediocrity will change to excellence.
The mark of godliness in the life of Daniel was his excellent attitude. There was no jealousy in the heart of Daniel against those who were appointed as governors. He was in the kingdom long before they had come on the scene. But he was not threatened, nor did he feel competitive. We read that he possessed an "excellent spirit" (Dan.6:3). Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and the king appointed him over the entire kingdom.
His colleagues set up a spy network against Daniel. The search was to find out something to accuse him. Their search in the realm of 'government affairs', could find "no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption" (Dan.6:4). They could not find one shred of damaging evidence against him. Instead, he was found faithful in his work. Negligence was absent. Daniel was a man of personal purity. Solomon says, "A righteous man who walks in his integrity, how blessed are his sons after him" (Pro.6:7). "Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?" (Pro.20:6). Can others count on you to get the job done even when the boss is not around?
On the surface, we may look like people of integrity and honesty; but it is not unusual to find a lot of corruption among Christians. But Daniel was an honest person, with nothing to hide. Even when the tables were turned against him, he was consistent with God. Daniel did not turn to prayer in panic. Day in and day out, year after year, he was on his knees three times a day. Though he was one of the top officials of the land, he found time with God on a regular basis. When you are in trouble, remember that God is still on the throne. David says, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice" (Psa.55:17).
Charles Swindoll says he is convinced that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. Our attitude is much more important than our past, our education, our bank balance, fame or failures. It is our attitude that fuels our fires or assaults our hopes. "When my attitude is right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great." Still we spend more time concentrating on things that cannot be changed. Learn to rejoice in difficult situations.
In his letter to Philippians, the Apostle Paul did not mince words. He said, "If therefore there is any consolation in Christ, if there is any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfil my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" (Phil.2:1-2). He is pleading to exercise the God-given ability to put our minds on those things that build up, strengthen, encourage and help ourselves and others. He wants us to choose not to focus on self (Phil.2:3-4).
There are some inescapable laws of life that can make us irritable grumblers. Some of those laws, commonly called Murphy's Laws, are: "Everything takes longer than you think; if anything can go wrong, it will; the other lane always moves faster; friends come and go, but enemies accumulate." It is essential to have a positive, encouraging attitude to survive in a world saturated with Murphy's Laws. Our minds can be kept free of anxiety, if we dump the load of our cares on the Lord in prayer. However, this is usually the last thing we try doing. We will start enjoying health and happiness only when we stop blaming. As long as you blame others, you will be a victim for the rest of your life.
Several years ago, due to food scarcity, the Government had imposed restrictions in Mumbai on food served during receptions. The only item permitted to be served was ice cream. Mr. Bhonsale, a friend of mine, invited a large number of his friends and their families for the wedding reception of his son. Guests started arriving at the appointed time. But the ice cream did not reach the venue. Mr. Bhonsale continued talking with the guests, cracking jokes, absolutely unperturbed. About an hour later, the ice cream arrived. When it was about to be served, the volunteers were shocked to find that the supplier had forgotten to bring the spoons! Still Mr. Bhonsale remained unmoved! Friends, who stayed close by, went to their homes, brought some spoons and rescued the situation for Mr. Bhonsale, who kept his cool throughout. What would be your attitude in such situations?
Paul and Silas decided that they would not be paralysed by self-pity when they were imprisoned. They started "praying and singing hymns of praise to God" (Acts16:25). As they prayed and sang, the unbelievable happened. The gates opened. The prisoners were listening. Calmly they spoke words of encouragement to the jailer. God used their attitude to change the entire situation. The right attitude can transform our circumstances. You need godly wisdom to develop this attitude. That is why James asks those facing trials to ask of God for wisdom (Jas.1:2-5).
"God specialises in things thought impossible. He does the things others cannot do." "Nothing is too hard for Him" (Jer.32:17). Impossible circumstances and un-crossable rivers are not unusual. But the Lord asks, "Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jer.32:27). "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Lk.18:27). Not only does He do the impossible, but He does abundantly beyond all anyone could ask or think. This is exactly what Jesus did when He fed the five thousand (Jn.6:5-13).
The ill-fated Franklin expedition to the Arctic Ocean sailed from England in 1845. The two sailing ships were loaded with lot of things they did not need: a 1200-volume library, fine China, and sterling silverware for each officer with his initials engraved on the handles. Surprisingly, each ship took only a 12-day supply of coal for their steam engines! The ships were trapped in vast plains of ice. None of the team survived. It is reported that two of the officers pulled a sled loaded with a lot of silverware for more than 100 km across the treacherous ice!
These men contributed to their demise by carrying what they did not need. Don't we do the same? Evil thoughts that guide us, bad habits that drag us down, grudges that do not let us go? The Word of God cautions us, "Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us" (Heb.12:1). Remember to keep out of your life anything that would crowd Christ out of your heart, and develop a godly attitude. Jesus told Martha, "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part" (Lk.10:42).
It is not wrong to find pleasure in the good things money can buy. But we should never rely on them for happiness. If we think our fulfilment depends on material possessions, we are crushed when we lose them. But if our joy is found in the Lord, nothing can disrupt it, not even economic distress. It all depends on our attitude.
God sent His Son to become flesh and live in this world so that He might set before us an example in our nature; He was like us in all things, except for sin. Such an example was necessary so that we might never be at a loss about the will of God, having a glorious representation of it before our eyes. The example of Christ is as appropriate for the believers of the 21st century as it was for those of the first; it is as suitable for a child as for his grandparents. Example is better than precept.
"What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God?" (Mic.6:8). This should be our attitude of heart. Be, then do. God's requirement is fairness, magnanimity and a lowly heart (Deut.10:12). Only through redeeming grace and power can these requirements be met!
Christ is presented to the saints as the grand pattern of obedience and example of holiness with the promise that as we contemplate Him, we shall be changed into His image (2Cor.3:18). "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1Cor.11:1).
A Christian who makes the greatest impact on a watching world and who furthers the cause of Christ is one whose actions harmonise with his words. James spoke of the "wisdom from above" which is "pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (Jas.1:3-5,3:17), as you pass through trials. The wisdom of the world is foolish (1Cor.1:20), earthly, unspiritual, and of the devil (Jas.3:15).
A camera may not lie, but the computer can. A computer can manipulate images, to create a picture of an event that never happened. Images can be inserted into or removed from photographs. Centuries before such modern technology, the Apostle Paul warned Timothy about counterfeit reality inside the church. He warned that in the last days, people would be self-absorbed, "having a form of godliness, but denying its power" (2Tim.3:5). He warned that "evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived," and emphasised the need to live a godly life (2Tim.3:13). May God stamp eternity on your heart for you to realise that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. May God help us to develop such an attitude, acceptable to Him.