4 Principles for Life
- Don’t expect people will treat you the way you would like
All of us want others to treat us well. Indeed, we often do good to others with the expectation that they will reciprocate or at least be appreciative of our kindness. Nevertheless, we need to recognize that this will not invariably occur. There are times when even after selflessly and wholeheartedly caring for others we are repaid with apathy or worse. I have seen this happen to many good people.
It is said that the pain caused by those we love will be felt more acutely than the pain inflicted by someone with whom we are not close. It is strange but true that the disrespectful treatment we receive is often from people whom we love and care about. One of the ways those offenses comes is in the form of anonymous letters. Regrettably, this is not unknown in churches. I am familiar with several gracious and godly church leaders who have been targeted by some of their own community members through those invidious letters.
Never underestimate the damage a jealous person can inflict. And jealousy is far spread than what we think or know,
In summary, we cannot control how others respond. Likewise, we cannot always expect others will treat us the way we would like.
- Your own goodness shouldn’t be based on how others treat you
Think of the times when you were at your worst behavior. I suspect much of it might have been in response to some bad experiences you had in your relationship with others. We all have heard about the kindergartner who said, “He pinched me, so I bit him back.” We may have also witnessed otherwise mature individuals who nevertheless have held a begrudging attitude toward others because of past offenses they have suffered.
Offenses may come in many different forms and spring from a variety of motivations. Sometimes people behave unkindly because of the difficult straits in which they currently find themselves. In such situations, we must certainly not add to their burden through a harsh response.
We must also recognize that although we cannot control the actions of others, we may and must manage our own response. It is axiomatic that we desire others to treat us well.
Christ famously said, “Treat others the way you want them to treat you.” Consequently, your goodness should not be based on how others treat you but rather on how we would like to be treated.
- Prepare for the worst
The best role model for preparing for adversity I have ever seen is my wise wife. I think one of her life mottos is to prepare for the worst. I have never known a person who is as gifted in this regard. On several occasions, her preparedness was a lifesaver for our family.
One of the verses which I find thrilling is from the book of Jeremiah: “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? (Jeremiah 12:5 NASB)
The aforementioned passage was an admonition from the Lord to despondent Jeremiah about the trials yet to come. In our own regard, difficulties in life surely lie before us. It may be a health issue, relational problem, job loss, trouble with children, dangers, etc.
Proverbial wisdom says “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (24:10 NKJV)
Though we don’t know what will be the specific nature of future trials it is assured that they will come in one form or another. Recognition of this fact should not leave us depressed. Rather as the above proverb says it is a sign of strength to be preparing for worse things. People are shocked when tragedy strikes because they didn’t understand where in the world it came from. On the other hand, when one is well-prepared he is able to better resist the unexpected trials which are common to life.
- How you finish is more important than how you start
We all have heard about the importance of making a good first impression. I am not a big fan of this idea, perhaps because I am not skilled at it. Additionally, many people have been misled by a deceptive first impression.
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning.” Ecclesiastes 7:8
Those words are from someone who started his life journey well, then sumptuously pursued all the pleasure the world can offer, and finished the latter part of his life living in regret. Shockingly, the above words are from Solomon, the wisest king who ever lived.
Too many talented people who began strongly have failed terribly. In many instances, the underlying reason is pride. Pride breaks a person down. If you are successful or if you are talented don’t let pride steal your continued success.
In a former era the Apostle Paul wrote from a prison in Rome: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” His earlier life had consisted of persecuting the budding Christian church. However, at the time he wrote the above-mentioned words, Paul was sitting in a prison and those words which he penned would eventually form part of the sacred Scripture. Paul was the most prolific author of books in the Bible. He poured out his life for the cause of spreading the message which the Lord Himself had commended to him. His faithfulness to that call resulted in him boldly declaring to his readers “I have finished the race.” Paul finished well.
First impressions and noble beginnings are certainly advantageous but of much greater importance is how you fulfill an important task. Focusing on completing the goal should give hope and motivation to be faithful in pursuing one’s life mission. Nothing should prevent one’s light from shining. May this motivate us all to diligently pursue meaningful things.