As those of you who are familiar with me know from my blog and Facebook, I love the Bible; God’s Holy Word. I believe it wholeheartedly, completely, that it is inerrant and infallible, and that not one word in it was put there apart from the leading and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Some people teach that it’s either one or the other, but I’ve always wondered why it couldn’t have been both. I think that the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to use any means He wishes to get His point across, but that’s just me. I know what all the naysayers say, the irreligious, the religious studies professors, the Ph. D’s, all those in Academia who talk of theories, interpretations, and all the stuff they teach you in college courses to make you think and question things, including your beliefs, and everything you’ve been taught. I also know the arrogance with which some of these scholars and highly educated people try to stuff all their knowledge and all their beliefs down some people’s throats without an acknowledgment that some people (even quite young people) have been able to come to their own conclusions from nothing more than their own personal experience and observation.
I’m not into that personal kind of haranguing people into believing what I believe. (Well, that’s not exactly true. There are some people like my lovely wife and wonderful daughter who would disagree enthusiastically with this statement, but since I’m writing this, and they’re not here, I’ll say that I’ve always tried to be fair, honest, and truthful in what I say to people, and I believe that’s accurate.) I’ve never seen that trying to force someone to see your point of view works very well; especially, with those who aren’t inclined to agree with you anyway, and who have supposedly already come to their own conclusions (my daughter at 16). I’ve always felt that one is more likely to catch more flies with sugar than actually kill with napalm. Forgive the analogy, but I think you know what I mean, and if you don’t I’ll just put it out there. I think you get a lot further with people when you speak to them with kindness and respect, and a willingness to listen without feeling that you have to make every point in your arsenal of knowledge. Communication shouldn’t be a battle between people, but a sharing of ideas and viewpoints in which hopefully both people walk away thinking that just maybe they don’t have or know all the answers. I’ve always thought that walking away from a conversation in which I’m left to dwell upon and question the things I think I know has always been good for me. It made me think, and not just blindly accept what someone else says (even if I thought they knew more than me) it was still good to come to my own conclusions because it made me more certain in what I believed. And to the chagrin of some people, there’s nothing wrong with having some confidence in yourself. You do know that there is a difference between confidence and arrogance, don’t you?
Well, anyway, enough about me. So what about what I’ve learned from the book of Philippians? Let’s start with the basic idea that the book of Philippians has taught me more about a man, and how that man relates everything he knows to what he believes, and how that man lives his belief out in the daily living of his life. That man is the Apostle Paul, and from him (whether you believe in God or the Bible or not) there is plenty to learn about life and how one should live. More than one person has patterned their life by following his example, and have become highly successful because of it; not necessarily in achieving great wealth or fame (or what the world likes to view as success now) but more than successful just the same, and to be honest I would love to have his resume to present rather than my own feeble one.
Among a great many things I’ve learned from reading this book of the Bible and examining the life of this man, I’ve learned the following in no particular order. First of all this man had a great memory. I don’t mean a capacity for remembering facts and places though it’s certain he did, but rather that he had great memories of people who mattered to him, whom he loved and knew intimately, who he knew had helped him time and time again, and who had sacrificed (sometimes at great cost to themselves) for him. A man who has those kinds of memories is never really alone or lonely. Those kinds of memories stay with a person all their lives and bring joy even in the midst of trials and tribulations and grief.
And in that, there’s something else I’ve learned. The Apostle Paul lived his life to the fullest in every imaginable, conceivable way, both in the good and the bad things he experienced. I mean when you think of the range of his life from being blinded on the Damascus Road in his encounter with Jesus Christ to being stoned, whipped, and deserted at sea, I think it’s safe to say that the man lived a full life indeed, and to my amazement, did so joyfully. Don’t you think that there’s something to be learned from a man like that? If you’re not sure, I will give you an example of what kind of lesson this has for everyone, and it’s a lesson that sadly isn’t taught so much anymore, and it’s this. A great memory of the important events in your life and the people who mattered most teaches you gratitude and gives you a feeling of thankfulness that never, and I mean never, goes away. It’s a valuable thing to learn.
There’s more to come if you’re interested, so check back to see #2, and what else I may have picked up. Who knows you might even enjoy it. 🙂