Inspirational Image of the Day

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant; Make me perfect in every good work to do your will, working in me that which is well pleasing in your sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Notes on the Scripture

What good does boasting do for us? We do it to make other people regard us more highly, but it doesn’t really have that effect. It mostly just makes other people like us less. It makes us appear conceited. It is a self-inflicted wound for our image. Even worse, it makes other people hope that we fail.
Illuminated Letter S|Illuminated Bible

o, why do it? Mostly because it makes us feel better about ourselves. If we have feelings of inferiority, we boast to assuage that awful feeling. Psychologically injured people are most likely to brag about themselves or their accomplishments. Or perhaps we feel like we really are better than everyone else, and want more respect and obeisance from them — but this attitude is even more likely to make enemies.

If you are a Christian and feel an urge to boast — which we all do, at least sometimes, in some places — dig down into yourself and talk to God about it. Find the source of your urge. It is possible, with enough work, to heal even terrible mental wounds we have carried from childhood. Christ has offered to take our anxieties on Himself; He has actually requested that we give our pain to Him, for his capacity is infinite.

We should not be afraid to take advantage of the benefits of our faith, for that is what God wants! So go ahead and dump your problems in God’s lap. Ask Him to take them.

Boasting, for a Christian, is nonsensical. Christianity is the ultimate non-hierarchical religion, for we all receive one great gift, and the pride and possessions of this life become nothing more than vanity to us. Still, life is so much better when we stop playing one-upsmanship games. Instead of swinging through a range of self-image, we have a steady, fulfilled knowledge of our place in the universe. It is possible for us to almost completely stop thinking about ourselves, in the sense of ranking ourselves.

Unleavened bread, which Jews eat at Passover, is simply bread that is not inflated with hot air. Leavened bread is full of hot air. This is perfectly good for bread, but for people, it is counterproductive. (If you are not sure you want to become “a new lump” — well, the translation is admittedly unfortunate.)

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

Heavenly God, you are the King eternal, immortal and invisible. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God; the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In times long past did you lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands: Yet they will perish, but you will endure; yes, all of them will grow old like a garment, as a coat you will change them, and they will be changed; but you are the same, and your years will have no end.

You alone are God, and do not change; and because of this, we may hope to be preserved. Are you not from eternity, O Lord our God, our Holy One? The everlasting God, even the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who does not faint nor grow weary? There is no searching out your understanding, mighty Lord, but by our praise we may glorify your Holy Name, now and all our lives.

Psalm 37:7-8 (GW)
Let go of anger, and leave rage behind; Do not fret — it only causes harm. Psalm 37:7-8

James 2:1-5 (ESV)
Gold Rings and Fine Clothes

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?

Notes on the Scripture

Often you hear (or say) “cleanliness is next to godliness”, but there is little support for the saying in the Bible. If anything, it is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament. Early Christians, especially the very fervent, often took to the countryside and refused some form of personal hygiene or adornment. St. Francis of Assisi, for example, who was due to inherit considerable worldly goods, renounced all of it, including the clothing; he went barefoot. John the Baptist would have been kicked out of any restaurant in New York. On the other hand, nothing in the Bible forbids bathing, or (in the New Testament) shaving, or any basic hygiene. It is just that such matters are matters of the world and have nothing to do with godliness.

Obsession with personal adornment, on the other hand, is one of the great areas of overlooked sinfulness in modern society. Vanity is a powerful urge, the servant of mighty Pride, king of the deadly sins. The fashion industry is a testament to the power of vanity; even worse, its adherents are ludicrously convinced of its importance. Cosmetic surgery has become a flourishing business.

It is hard to resist. Even if you personally don’t have a great problem with appearances, living in a culture where the importance of fashion and appearance goes unquestioned presents a powerful force to comply. The Amish will tell a woman, “you look very plain today”; they take a lack of personal vanity as a sign of devotion, and the culture supports minimalizing pride in appearance in favor of pursuing rewards of the Spirit.

It is often hard to grasp how very non-Christian society is, even in “Christian” countries. In the matter of dress and appearance, even very sincere Christians will make compromises and rationalize conduct and beliefs that damage their faith. It is a good area of meditation and prayer, when you feel called to examine your sins, to examine your conduct and attitudes about personal appearance.

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

You, Lord, through your works have revealed the everlasting structure of the world. You, Lord, created the earth. You are faithful throughout all generations, righteous in your judgments, marvelous in strength and majesty, wise in creating and prudent in establishing what exists, good in all that is observed and faithful to those who trust in you, merciful and compassionate; forgive me my sins and my injustices, my transgressions and my shortcomings.

Do not take into account every sin of your servant, but cleanse me with the cleansing of your truth, and direct my steps to walk in holiness and righteousness and purity of heart, and to do what is good and pleasing in your sight and in the sight of my rulers. Yes, Lord, let your face shine upon all your servants in peace for our good, that we may be sheltered by your mighty hand and delivered from every sin by your uplifted arm; deliver us as well from those who hate us unjustly.

Give harmony and peace to me and to all who dwell on the earth, just as you did to our fathers when they reverently called upon you in faith and trust, that we may be saved, while we render obedience to your almighty and most excellent name, and give harmony and peace to our rulers and governors on earth.

Proverbs 15:28 (NKJV)
The righteous heart reflects before answering,
but the wicked mouth blurts out evil.

Notes on the Scripture
Thinking Before Speaking

When I was very young, the quotation by Davy Crockett seemed to me to be the stupidest thing a person could say. It seemed to say practically nothing. Until a person has felt the hard hand of experience, he cannot see the meaning of it, must less the importance.

But the older I got, the more sense it came to make, until it eventually became profound. (Which reminds me of the quip, “It is remarkable how one’s parents grow smarter as they get older.”)

The quote says two things, the first of which parallels the quotation from Proverbs. If you want to maximize the damage you do in your life, learn to say whatever you think. If we do this enough, we can begin to recite rationalizations we have memorized to make it appear to be a virtue: “I say what I think” or “if I seem blunt, it’s because I’m honest.” Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you ever start a sentence with the words “don’t take this the wrong way”, stop talking. Whatever it is you are about to say is going to hurt the feelings of the person you’re about to say it to.

But this is about more than people’s feelings or saying something stupid. The Bible tells us that reflection before answering is an act that comes from a righteous heart; spewing out your thoughts, unfettered, is the habit of the wicked. Proverbs is an instructional book, a book of wisdom, and this is something that we must learn, for it does not come naturally. But we have a duty, as Christians, to learn it and practice it.

We find it commonly in situations where we think somebody has insulted us, or has said or done something stupid or harmful. We get angry and prideful, and (like all emotions) anger and pride can quickly become sinful.

We hear this throughout life: Think before you speak (or act). Count to ten. Hold your tongue. But just because we can repeat the phrases does not mean we have learned them. Holding our tongue is not something that we learn once and then live, because like our fight against all forms of sinfulness, it is something that needs to be relearned and rehearsed every day, for the temptation will spring anew in full power.

We should remember how much time Peter spent in 1 Peter developing the theme of blessing those who persecute us, who speak ill of us. If we do not “reflect before answering,” we will blurt out evil.

The second part of Crockett’s quote also reflects Biblical teaching. We cannot let our reflection turn into hand-wringing inaction. We are constanting exhorted to put what we have been taught into motion, to show Christ in our daily lives. “Let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

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