Editor: Richard (Dick) Innes
Published by: ACTS International
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Vol. 19 – No. 1617 April 21, 2017
Thought for the week: "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." – Albert Einstein
Well-known for his competency and ingenuity as a carpenter, my husband was
fixing our cottage dock. He removed his watch and placed it on the dock so
it wouldn't get wet. To make sure it wouldn't fall into the water, he
decided to anchor it around a nail. He held the nail against the wood in the
center of the band, and with one deft blow he smashed his watch to pieces.
So give to the needy sweet charity's bread, For "giving is living," the angel said. But must I keep giving again and again? My peevish and pitiless answer ran. "Oh, no," said the angel, piercing me through, "Just give till the Master stops giving to you."
Years ago Harry Emerson Fosdick told about a church in Denmark where the worshipers bowed regularly before a certain spot on the wall. They had been doing that for three centuries—bowing at that one spot in the sanctuary. Nobody could remember why. One day in renovating the church, they removed some of the whitewash on the walls. At the exact spot where the people bowed they found the image of the Madonna under the whitewash. People had become so accustomed to bowing before that image that even after it was covered up for three centuries, people still bowed.
Tradition is a powerful thing. The Pharisees had learned to substitute tradition, custom, habit for the presence of the living God. Traditionalism rears its head in many ways, in many times and in many places.
A certain downtown businessman became fond of the little boy who shined his shoes every day. He did such a good job that one day the businessman asked him, "Son, how come you are so conscientious about your work?"
The boy felt complimented. He looked up to the man, and said, "Mister, I'm a Christian and I try to shine every pair of shoes as if Jesus Christ were wearing them."
The businessman saw something genuine in the shoeshine boy. Soon after that he began reading his Bible. When he decided to be a Christian himself, he credited his decision to the little boy who shined every pair of shoes "as if Jesus Christ were wearing them."
What's inside us comes out in our social and moral behavior. Here is the other extreme:
Another boy was raised by a mother who showed him no affection, no love, no discipline. He was a "loner" in school. The girls teased him and the boys beat him up. He joined the marines but only found abuse there and, eventually, was dishonorably discharged. He married and tried to have a family, but his wife hated him. He lost all sense of self-worth. Maybe you've guessed his name.
One day—it was November 22, 1963—he went out into the garage, took a rifle, drove into Dallas, and put two holes in the head of our former President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Yes, his name was Lee Harvey Oswald. One who lacks self-esteem and has a poor self-image is likely to be negative, anti-social and often deplorably immoral.
According to legend, a Russian countess was driven to the theater by her coach on a bitterly cold evening. To be sure she wouldn't have to wait afterwards, she ordered the driver and footman to remain outside until she returned.
She cried during the play when a loyal servant was being mistreated by an uncaring lord. When the performance ended, it was snowing heavily outside and a small crowd had gathered around her carriage. She demanded to know what was going on. The driver fearfully told her that the old footman who had stayed with the coach as she ordered had frozen to death. The lady was appalled.
How could a sensitive woman who cried at the plight of fictional characters be so callous about the comfort and safety of her own servants? Sometimes people see only what they want to see and know what they want to know. It's a form of willful blindness that afflicts many of us who profess grand principles of caring and respect that we ignore when we deal with people in our own lives. I've seen parents who want their children to be happy, self-confident and honest, yet brutalize their kids with relentless criticism and confuse them by cheating on their taxes or lying to get them into better schools.
Sometimes well-intentioned coaches ignore injuries, emotionally abuse young athletes or work them as if they were in a slave-labor camp—all the while convincing themselves it's for the athletes' own good.
And I've worked with executives in companies that advocate employee well-being and family values who look the other way when employees, either out of fear or the desire to please, work excessively long hours and neglect their families, causing stress and domestic conflict.
We all have moral blind spots. The challenge is to have the humility to find them and the character to fix them.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15).
An article in Parables, Etc., shares how "Author Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
"When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry.'"
By the time I was five years of age I had learned that "big men don't cry," so I learned well never to cry. As an adult, however, I came to realize that I had a problem because I couldn't cry. So I asked God to give me tears back! Whew! He did!
Not so long ago a friend from church lost her teenage daughter. She was well on a Friday. The following Friday was her funeral. This friend had already lost her son during the Vietnam war. Another friend and I visited her on Saturday night. It was incredibly sad. I had nothing to say. At times like these words can seem so empty and meaningless. I simply sat on the floor and wept with her.
Rare are the friends who know how to weep with those who weep. May God help us all to learn how to be this kind of a friend.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you not only for the gift of laughter, but also for the gift of tears. Please help me to always be sensitive to the hurts and pains of others and learn how to weep with those who weep, as you did when your friend, Lazarus, died. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."
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