Whether it is in our homes, our place of business, our religious institutions, or our government, we expect those who are in authority over us to do what is best for us. We expect them to have the wisdom and understanding to lead us in such a way that our lives will become better than they were before. Whenever a leader puts his own agenda and his own self-interest ahead of the welfare of those in his care, those under him are sure to suffer. Even worse than a leader who allows his own selfish desires to interfere with his responsibility to lead, nurture and protect those under him is the leader who deliberately deceives, manipulates and misleads. It would be better for the people to have no leader at all than one who abuses, oppresses and takes advantage of them.
We like to think of Jesus as the ultimate model of perfection – even though He shared in our humanity and we humans are weak and imperfect. And Jesus truly is perfect! The Bible makes it clear that He never sinned – not even once! The Scriptures also say that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:2-3). In light of this, would it surprise you that at one point Jesus was not perfect? That there was something He had to learn?
All of us would like others to think well of us. All of us wish to be accepted. Unfortunately, we do not always understand what it is that wins the respect and acceptance of others. Some think that they can buy their way into popularity or acceptance. They set out to accumulate things, thinking that their possessions will give them an entrance to the society they desire. Possessions, money or wealth may generate envy in others, but they will not win you respect.
We like to think that we are in the right. Even when we think thoughts or entertain positions which are questionable we, more often than not, are able to convince ourselves that the position we take or the things we say really are true. When we take up a cause, we do so because we are convinced that it is the right thing to do. Since we are right it follows that other people should agree with us, they should share the same opinions and endorse the same things we do. If someone does not agree with us it means that he is wrong, is misinformed or, perhaps, is even our enemy.
There are a great many different kinds of terrain and landscapes in this earth in which we live. In one place are rolling grasslands. In another there are snow-capped mountains. Still other places boast forests or broad rivers. Lakes capture the deep blue of the sky. Still waters mirror the sunlight, moonlight and starlight. At times the skies are crystal-clear; at others they are filled with swirling clouds. Seashore or desert, hill or valley, there is something which all places on earth have in common. Each place, has a beauty all its own. Each type of terrain or sky is magnificent in its own way.
When God created the universe, He looked at all He had made and proclaimed that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). God’s pronouncement included mankind. Man lived in perfect harmony with nature. It was no struggle to raise food to eat. The earth produced bountifully without great effort. Man also had nothing to fear from the wild animals. There was no competition between them. They shared their environment in perfect harmony.
Have you ever been in a room that was totally dark? Perhaps you woke in the night when the electricity was off. No stars or moonlight showed through the window. Even though it was your own room and you were perfectly familiar with the arrangement of the furniture, you still were afraid to move about lest you trip and fall over something you could not see.
As frightening as it may be to not be able to see anything within your own home, at least you know where you are. You are in a familiar room. Your house has not moved. But suppose you were in a ship on a dark night. You do not know where you are except that you are close to the coast. You can only see a few feet and the howling wind is driving you along. For all you know, you may be moments from being dashed against a rock you cannot see.
There is a saying that good things come in small packages. There is some truth to this. Often it is the little things which make life pleasant. A kind word, the laugh of a child, the sound of someone singing, a ray of sunshine peeking from behind a cloud – all these things can lift the heart and bring a smile to our lips. A friendly touch, a note of appreciation, the greeting of a neighbor can lighten our entire day.
Suppose that you hosted a huge, elaborate and expensive party for no reason but to show your love and appreciation for your friends and family. What would your reaction be if none of the people you invited came? Suppose that that instead of thanking you for your invitation your friends and relatives responded with insults and abused the messengers you sent to deliver the invitation? Would you not feel disappointed? Would you not feel that they had betrayed your friendship? Would you not be angry? Would you not wish to take revenge?
It is easy to complain. In fact, most of us are rather good at it. If something happens which we don’t like we usually have a few choice words to say about it.
Conversely, we tend to take our blessings for granted. Instead of being grateful for the good things we have and the good things which happen to us, we think of them as something we deserve. In turn, this kind of thinking kills gratitude. Who is thankful for things which are his by right?