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Posts Tagged ‘Proverbs 21:21’

FORTUNE COOKIE WITH BLANK FORTUNE

‘Cracked open a fortune cookie not long ago and discovered this bit of wisdom:

“It’s not the years in your life,

but the life in your years

that counts.”

Come to find out, that’s not from Confucius or any other Chinese sage.  It’s from a beloved, former U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln.

Many folks might interpret this proverb to mean:

Live each day to the fullest; a full life is a meaningful life.

But what brings fullness to the day? And what makes a life meaningful?

The answers to those questions lie in another collection of proverbs, not found in fortune cookies, but in the Bible:

  1. A meaningful life comes from finding favor with God and with others (Proverbs 3:4; 21:21). 

Proverbs 3:3 names the qualities that garner favor: faithfulness and love.

It’s true.  Those two character traits play out in goodness, generosity and grace. Without fail, that kind of person experiences great satisfaction in her relationships. After all, that’s how God designed us (Acts 20:35).

“A full life cannot be measured by the quantity

but rather the quality of one’s relationships

with others and with God.”

–Warren Mueller

  1. A meaningful life comes from living wisely (Proverbs 8:35).

And just how do we do that? By applying integrity to our actions, discretion in our conversations, and prayerful, Spirit-led discernment in our decisions.

“Wisdom is the power to see

and the inclination to choose

the best and highest goal,

together with the surest means of attaining it.”

–J. I. Packer

And wisdom leads to peace of mind, contentment, and a clear conscience—important foundation stones for a meaningful life.

  1. A meaningful life comes from internalizing God’s ways (Proverbs 11:28, 21:21). 

These proverbs, (11:28 and 21:21), provide a corollary to the previous one. A wise person follows the course of conduct established by the Father of Wisdom and revealed in the Bible.  He made us; he knows the best way for us to live.

Countless millions have devoted their lives to the accumulation of stuff, the pursuit of fame, and the climb to a position of power.

Yet King Solomon (who had it all) proclaimed: “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).  Did you notice that four words out of seven in that verse are the same?   “Meaningless!” I hear a bit of frustration in Solomon’s voice, don’t you?

Wouldn’t it be wise for us to avoid the mistakes he made? Maybe we should post that verse on the fridge, to keep us grounded in what really matters: God’s purpose for our lives.

“No real meaning exists

apart from linking our lives

to God’s purpose.”

–John Maxwell

  1. A meaningful life comes from reverencing God (Proverbs 14:27; 19:23). 

And reverence includes honor, respect, adoration, and awe. Embracing these attitudes toward God leads to deep satisfaction, complete peace, and true joy, because:

“The man who has God as his treasure

has all things in One.”

–A.W. Tozer

  1. A meaningful life comes from trusting God (Proverbs 16:20b).

God alone knows me better than I know myself. He alone is aware of what’s going on in the lives of those around me. And he alone can see into the future. Why do I think I’m capable of moving ahead on my own?

Even when trouble comes to call, I can rest assured that such experiences have purpose and meaning (Romans 8:28).

I would do well to remember: 

“Relinquishment is a prerequisite to fulfillment.”

–Eugene Peterson

  1. A meaningful life comes from an attitude of humility (Proverbs 22:4).

Humility is the proper perspective of oneself, especially in relation to God. He is all-powerful, all-wise, all-seeing, and more. Reminding ourselves of his magnificence is one way to foster humility.

Another way is to be thankful. A full, satisfied life is grounded in humble gratitude.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving,

turn routine jobs into joy,

and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

–William Arthur Ward (italics added)

M-m-m. Living thankfully, joyfully, and blissfully aware of each blessing. Yes, that does sound like a highly satisfactory way to live.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Service, Wisdom, Obedience, Reverence, Trust, Humility, and Gratitude.  That’s a long list, Lord.  Perhaps the full, meaningful life is out of reach for me.  Oh, but if I consider the interrelatedness of these qualities, the reach is shortened considerably.  Obedience includes service, and reverence naturally leads to humility.  Humility includes gratitude, and trust leads to wisdom.  Most important of all, YOU want all of your children to experience life to the fullest. Oh, how  I praise you for your direction and provision to make that happen! 

(John 10:10; Philippians 1:6; 2 Peter 1:3)  

(Photo credit:  www.kitchendaily.com.)

 

 

 

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“Take up one idea.  Make that one idea your life — think of it, dream of it, live on that idea.  Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone.  This is the way to success” — Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902).

Ever have a boss who seemed guided by this philosophy? He may not be familiar with the person who wrote these words (Swami was a Hindu monk.), but the same principles influence his decisions.

 

This kind of boss expects employees to work long hours to achieve his personal goals.  Ideas from others are not well accepted, because he is, after all, the expert.  He’s read all the books on management theory, marketing strategies, and profit maximization.  Suggestions are superfluous.

But, there is a new form of executive leadership garnering attention.  September’s issue of Sky Magazine ran an article, “The Enlightened Leader,” that highlights this innovative leadership model.   Workshops, webinars, even courses are available for training.

Included in the curriculum are these four topics:  1) Character , 2) Purpose, 3) Integrity, and 4) Values.

How ironic that business experts are returning to such ancient principles–Biblical principles.  For example:

1) A person of character is trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, and caring.  Someone with character pursues righteousness and love; then he finds life, prosperity, and honor (Proverbs 21:21).

2) A person of worthwhile purpose is not focused on the bottom line of the financial spreadsheet.  He/she takes to heart Paul’s advice:  “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.  Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.  Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.  Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:3-4, The Message).

3) A person of integrity walks securely (Proverbs 10:9).  He’s not wishy-washy, making decisions based on what’s expedient for the moment.  “The integrity of the upright guides them” (Proverbs 11:3) to be wise and caring.

4) A person with moral values lives by an ethical code of behavior, summed up by Jesus in the Golden Rule.  “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).

It’s tempting to respond with a smug comment like, “It’s about time the experts came around to God’s way of handling business!”  Except…

…I still have character traits that need refinement.

…I do not live up to God’s purpose for me each day.

…Integrity still needs further development in my life.

…My choices do not always reflect my values.

It doesn’t matter if I am a leader of a large organization or a leader in my home.    I am called to have a positive effect within my circle of influence (Matthew 6:13-16).  And that circle is surprisingly wide when I include extended family, friends, neighbors, business associates, church acquaintances, etc.  In fact…

“…Sociologists say that even introverted people will influence an average of 10,000 people in their lifetime” (The Maxwell Leadership Bible by Dr. John C. Maxwell, p. x).

So what’s the first step toward success?

Perhaps commitment—commitment to God as a willing student in his course of leadership.  Commitment to prayer throughout the day, as choices present themselves.  And commitment to persevere toward wisdom, because:

“Blessed is the man who listens to me [wisdom], watching daily at my doors…For whoever find me finds life and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:34-35).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Thank You, Father, for the absolute truth of your word.  New ideas come and go, but your wisdom that leads us to success never fails.  Forgive me for the times I have ignored your word.  I want to be a woman of godly character, fulfilling your purpose with integrity, and reflecting your values.  That’s the kind of success that will provide lasting satisfaction and fulfillment in my soul.  Thank you for continuing to work on me.  Amen. 

(photo & art credits:  www.signsforyourlife.com, http://www.averyemployment.com, macondesigns.wordpress.com, http://www.signsforyourlife.com, calcuttaherald.wordpress.com.)

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