A close friend of mine, Sam Titus, sent me a book to read. It was entitled Insightand it was written by Dr. Tasha Eurich. Tasha did a wonderful job exploring the topic of self-awareness and illustrating why it is so important. Tasha defines self-awareness as “the ability to see ourselves clearly—to understand who we are, how others see us, and how we fit into the world around us.” I was pleased to see that she recognized in her research with people that “humility is a key ingredient of self-awareness.” She also noted as an organizational psychologist that self-aware people enjoy more successful careers and better lives because they have developed “an intuitive understanding of what matters to them, what they want to accomplish, how they behave, and how others see them.”
2 John 6—And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love.
The first Biblical reference to love God is recorded in Exodus 20:6. Moses teaches the Israelites to keep God’s commands and thereby demonstrate their love for Him. So, when John defines love in his letter to his readers, he is not sharing with them a new concept. But, as we all know, it is hard to walk in love with God. How do we strengthen willpower to be better God-lovers and, in the process, improve loving others and ourselves?
Joe works hard at work and by the time he gets home he is exhausted. Too often he is impatient with his children and snaps at his wife. When he loses his temper and yells at her it is not because he wants to be a jerk or to act in such an unloving manner. The fact is his willpower is nearly sapped. Unfortunately, because of this, he is also insensitive to the fact that his wife, Alice, is also exhausted from watching high-energy children and operating at the tail end of being sick. Her willpower and ability to understand his feelings is also at a low end.
3 John 11—Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.
The preceding passage is one of identity. John makes a simple distinction to his reader Gaius. Choose what is good and by doing so define yourself as a follower of God. John illustrates this in the next verse when he applauds Demetrius as being a man with a good testimony. I suspect Gaius knew Demetrius.
In his book Younger Next Year cowritten with Chris Crowley, Dr. Henry Lodge states that “Over 50% of all illness and injuries in the last third of your life can be eliminated by changing your lifestyle in the way we suggest.” The major way they suggest is to exercise forty-five minutes a day six days a week. Four of those workouts are aerobic and two involve weight training. The reason most people grow weak and more susceptible to disease is directly attributed to their failure to exercise!
Luke 14:26, 27, 33—If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not say good-bye to all his possessions cannot be My disciple.
John 5:15—The man went and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Never underestimate the need for approval. A man is sick for 38 years. Jesus sees him and knows his situation. He asks him if he would like to get well. Instead of answering “Yes!,” the man shares a pool of woes. You can read about it in John 5:1-7.
I had the privilege for several weeks of working with four Army generals. In discussing the importance of a good reputation, several of them shared why it was vital to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Their conduct was measured not just by standards but also the perception of those standards. Aside from their own moral and spiritual convictions what they were willing to do or not do was tied directly to the people they served. I was encouraged that powerful men modeled integrity with humility.
I make it a habit to read the Bible daily because I want to grow in my relationship with God and I need the wisdom His word gives to help me live in a God-pleasing manner. Sometimes Scripture jumps from the pages and slaps me. Such was the case recently when reflecting on 1 John 1:3,4.
This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Exodus 24:9-11--Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of Israel’s elders, and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath His feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire stone, as clear as the sky itself. God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank.
It must be difficult to be a professional basketball coach. It seems with each passing year that an increasing number of players are disrespectful to their coaches, referees, other players and the fans themselves. What should be a poetic team exercise of unselfish sportsmanship has turned into a circus of “I-isms” where a player’s attitude and action state, “It’s all about me.”
It must be difficult to be God. Daily He observes unruly, disrespectful children who seem more than willing to grieve His Spirit, ignore the commands of His Son and disdain His appointed leaders. What should be a marvelous demonstration of unity and fruit-bearing instead is the First Church of Me.
Have you ever felt sorry for yourself? I have and I’ve noticed something quite interesting. Whenever self-pity is at work it’s because I don’t have something I want. Self-pity is the logical result of a self preoccupied with expectations that may or may not be realistic or even right. I have also noticed that the solution to self-pity always comes from a reminder from God that He is all I need. Usually His prompts are gentle. He speaks through His word, or His Spirit brings to mind the blessings He so faithfully provides. I don’t believe I have ever had an extended, self-pity party. God is too awesome and nothing good ever comes from stewing, sulking, brooding or moping. Even the sound of those words should make us want to avoid them!
Each year senior military officers attending the Army War College choose a gift to present to the school. Because of differing tastes, this exercise of selecting a gift proves to be the most contentious challenge each class will face. Typically, students pick a reputable artist and commission that artist to paint a historical event the class chooses. Civil war themes are by far the most popular and sell the most prints. One year when the artist revealed his sketch, one southern student on the selection committee complained that there were no confederate soldiers present. Another member objected that no black Americans were depicted. So they sent the artist back to his canvas. Imagine their surprise when the clever painter produced a beautiful portrait of black Union soldiers guarding sullen Confederate prisoners!
Dick played in my soccer league years ago. I hadn’t seen him in at least five years. So I was surprised twice on Sunday morning when I received a call from Young’s Funeral Home informing me that he died and that he had listed me as his minister.
Before I write about self-control I must share a disclaimer. I struggle with this area personally. I wrestle against impure thoughts. I don’t always use my time wisely. I say or do things I shouldn’t. In short, I have a long way to go to be like my hero—Jesus. It is recklessly foolish to think I can control myself by my own doing. My sin nature guarantees the impossibility of self-earned perfection. What is a fallible man to do?
Winston Churchill once said, “A fanatic is a person who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” I’m not sure Sharif is a fanatic but he’s definitely passionate about his interests. On a United flight from Portland to Denver, I listened as he shared about his organization--Commonway. The logo on his business card proclaims “Creating a World Which Works for All.”
There are mornings when I wake up when I don’t want to read my Bible. I don’t want to pray. Surprised? No you’re not—‘cuz you have the same feelings. Admit it. There are days we get out of bed and put on our selfish clothes, brush our selfish teeth, shave our selfish whiskers, eat our selfish breakfast, drive our selfish car so we can sit at our selfish desk to be consumed with all those thoughts of what we feel like doing the whole selfish day. And we feel justified in skipping the time we ought to spend with our Lord. Why? Because we are busy! And if you’d care to go deeper, because at the center of our gnarly bodies is a heart that pumps: thump, thump, rebel, thump, thump, rebel! It’s a whole lot easier to do meaningful work than it is to meet with an invisible Friend.
Bruce Thielemann tells the story in Christus Imperator of a king long ago who organized a great race within his kingdom. All the young men in the land participated. A bag of gold was to be given to the winner, and the finish line was within the courtyard of the king's palace. During the race the runners were surprised to find in the middle of the road leading to the king's palace a great pile of rocks and stones. But they managed to scramble over it or to run around it and eventually to come to the courtyard.