One of the first things I did when I decided to find my way back to God was to read the Bible. This is something I had never done. I remember once as a teenager, perhaps when I was in college, picking it up and starting to read it but I didn’t get very far. This time I had more motivation and actually read the whole thing … twice.
One of the first things I noticed was that the Bible is full of good advice. I am not just talking about spiritual advice, although there is plenty of that, but just plain old common sense advice on life. Whether it be relationships, work or business there is something for everyone. I look at the Bible as a collection of writings with good advice for everyone. Even if you are one who doesn’t believe the Bible is real, that is is a elaborate myth written by people with some kind of agenda to promote religion, it is hard to argue that there is a wealth of knowledge inside it.
Yesterday’s gospel reading is a good example:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1 -2 (NIV)
What does this passage tell us, especially the last eleven words? Time’s up. It tells us that we will get back what we put into something. This is true whether we are dealing with people, work, faith or even writing blog posts. If we do everything half-assed then this is what we will get back. If we treat others like dirt, we can expect to get treated like dirt in return.
In these times, especially here in the US, individualism, Hedonism and minimalism are the norm. Here is a quote from Matthew Kelly’s Book “Rediscovering Catholicism”:
Individualism: When most people today are faced with a decision, the question that seems to dominate their inner dialogue is “What’s in it for me?”
Hedonism: Hedonism is the philosophy that emphasizes pleasure as the ultimate goal in life. The motto, the creed, the catch cry of the hedonist is, “If it feels good, do it!”
Minimalism: A minimalist is always seeking to exert the minimum effort and receive the maximum reward. (You can get a free copy of this book here. I recommend both Catholics and non-Catholics get it. )
These three terms certainly described me for most of my adult life. I am definitely the product of the late sixties through the early eighties when these traits took over our country. Although in my defense, once I had children my individualism turned more to a “family-ism” where I tried to do everything for them. I truly believe that had I not ran away from the church and the teachings of Jesus, had I studies (or even just read the Bible) I would not have fallen for these three traits and become the sinner I did.
Back to Matthew 7, when we only care about “What’s in it for me?” we don’t care what we do or who we hurt to get what we want. It is also the same with “If it feels good, do it!” I could write a book about my experiences with that one but I don’t write porn, not that I didn’t in another life. And it should be evident that minimalism isn’t really the best course of action. When you do as little as possible, when you only care about what is in it for you or doing only what makes you feel good, you will get back what you put into any situation.
If the measure you use is to lie in order to have as many sexual partners as you can, then guess what? Others will lie to you. If you cheat, you will be cheated on, if don’t give 100% at your job, then your job won’t give 100% back to you. When we strive to be materialistic, hedonistic, a minimalist of an individualist, we spend more time worrying about those things than we do about the truly important things like our health, family, friends and our faith.
I’ll leave you with one more passage from Matthew.
“For this reason I say to you, [n]do not be worried about your[o]life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the [p]air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his [r]life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will [v]care for itself. [w]Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25 – 34 (NASB)
Isn’t this good advice, even if you leave the source out of it?
Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Feel free to comment below.