The true joy of life

English: George Bernard Shaw, Nobel laureate i...

English: George Bernard Shaw, Nobel laureate in Literature 1925 Deutsch: George Bernard Shaw, Nobelpreisträger für Literatur 1925 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as I live it is my privilege – my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I love. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

-George Bernard Shaw

Wow.  I can’t help but think that this is what Christ desired–to be thoroughly used up by God, for us, when He died.  And because of this God gave Him the name that is above all names…

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:5 – 11 NIV 1984

We are exalted to have the attitude of Christ–to become obedient to God, to not struggle for our own rights, to humble ourselves before God and towards our fellows.

I am amazed living in our world today that someone might find their true joy in sacrificing for others.  Our world is obsessed with self, with the individual (as long as it’s me!).  Commercials try to convince us that we need to do X or Y because we “deserve it”, as if there is something inherently important in ME versus YOU or US.  We have to be better than our neighbour, instead of working WITH our neighbour or FOR our neighbour.  We are encouraged to do our own thing instead of working together or doing something for someone else.

I’m just thinking of all the commercials I’ve seen on TV or on the internet or heard on the radio over the last week.  Most of them, of course, usually pushing you to materialism through selfish considerations.  Check it out yourself.  The ones that aren’t inciting us to stuff our bellies with food products that aren’t good for us are exhorting us to be the most popular, the most beautiful, drive the best car, etc, etc, etc…

This is the opposite of George Bernard Shaw and the passage in Philippians–it’s a think of me society instead of a think of you society.

We need to change our thinking.  It will be hard.  The propaganda is all around us.

But do you know what we’ll find?

That the true joy in life really IS in giving your life for others.

The Attitude of Gratitude

The idea for this post was shamelessly stolen from the message at church this past Sunday (Sorry Pastor Ralph, but good message!).

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Cicero, (106 BC – 43 BC)

Yes, it was Thanksgiving this weekend here in Canada, and, yes, I’ve already written a “Thanksgiving” post. I was thinking of holding on to this idea until the US Thanksgiving in the end of November but…well…I ‘m not good at keeping presents that I’ve purchased early either!

What is gratitude?  It’s being thankful for what we do have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have.

“It’s not having what you want.  It’s wanting what you’ve got.” 
–Sheryl Crow, Soak Up The Sun.

I am a single person.  This is what I have.  I need to focus on enjoying this gift God has given me.  God DOES NOT give bad gifts.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:11, NIV

“Those who have nothing are better at giving things away because they are used to having nothing.”  Pastor Ralph, Sunday 09 Oct 2012. 🙂

I was in Africa last year working on building an orphanage for a group of orphans.  We were way up in the mountains north of Nairobi, amongst some of the poorest people.  But let me tell you of the incredible generosity of these Kenyans–two families that we didn’t even know gave up their homes to us and moved out so that the “rich, white people” from Canada would have places to stay!  They didn’t have much, no electricity, no bathroom, no kitchen as we know it, no heat, no showers, no washing machines, but what they had they gave graciously, with no question.  And the women came to cook and clean up after us!  What they had they were grateful to God for–what beautiful spirits they had!  They relied on God for their day to day needs and He provided. They had little but they knew how to live with little so they gave what they had back to God for our benefit, with gratitude in their hearts.

It should be easy for me to be single, seeing as I am not “rich” in dating history–I don’t know what I am missing.  How can it be hard to live without something you’ve never really had? Why is it hard sometimes to rejoice in what I do have instead of focusing on what I don’t?

It likely is easier for me not really having ever dated before (I thank God for this!).  But having an Attitude of Gratitude to God is not always easy, especially in this world that seems to be obsessed with worldly love and relationships.

Pastor Ralph reminded me that we need to 1).  change our focus (from what I don’t have to what I do have), 2).  change our actions (I need to invest in the lives of others and then I will feel fulfilment from God), and 3).  change our way of thinking (from worldly things to “whatsoever is good…” Philippians 4:8 (NIV).  Out of my gratitude to God, ministry will flow.  If I can be thankful in whatever circumstances I find myself, not only will those circumstances be easier to bear, but God will be praised.

This doesn’t mean that things won’t happen in our lives that are terrible, or sad, or disheartening to us.  But we should not let these circumstances determine our attitude.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
Charles R. Swindol

I guess my prayer for all of us is that we strive for a heart of gratitude, remembering that it is our attitude towards our situation and life experiences that can significantly impact our emotional and spiritual life.  We need to also remember that it is this attitude that will set us apart from those around us thereby allowing us to carry God’s healing and grace into their lives (and our lives as well).

(See, Pastor Ralph, I do pay attention in church on Sundays!)