Persistence, Part One

Persistence pays. It’s a costly investment, no question about it. But the dividends are so much greater than the original outlay that you’ll almost forget the price. And if the final benefits are really significant, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated to begin with. A primary reason we are tempted to give up is other people . . . you know, the less than 20 percent whose major role in life is to encourage others to toss in the towel.

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Insensitivity, Part One

My kids pulled a fast one on me one Christmas years ago. They teamed up, pooled their vast financial resources, and bought me a little motto to set on my desk. It was more than cute . . . it was convicting. In bold, black letters it read: DIETS ARE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE THICK AND TIRED OF IT. At first you thmile . . . then it makes you thad. Especially if you’re not thick of being thick!

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Getting Involved, Part Two

Yesterday, I told you of several appalling cases in which hurting—even dying—people cried out for help only to be blatantly ignored by passersby, both Christians and non-Christians. What’s happening? Why the passivity? How can we explain the gross lack of involvement? John Darley and Bibb Latane wrote an insightful article in Psychology Today a number of years ago, titled “When Will People Help in a Crisis?”

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Stay in Circulation

During the reign of Oliver Cromwell, the British government began to run low on silver for coins. Lord Cromwell sent his men on an investigation of the local cathedral to see if they could find any precious metal there. After investigating, they reported: The only silver we could find is the statues of the saints standing in the corners.

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Knowledge versus Wisdom

When we first looked at the sayings of Solomon and the wise men of Israel, we began with Proverbs 1. It occurs to me that it would be worthwhile to return to it as we consider for the final time our tendency to substitute knowledge for wisdom. This is not only a daily grind; it is a lifetime challenge! How easy it is to acquire knowledge, yet how difficult and painstaking is the process of gaining wisdom.

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Helpfulness

As we consider Agur’s fourth and final animal illustration, we must wrestle with an unusually enigmatic proverb. We typically encounter this problem whenever a statement depends heavily upon a shared cultural experience that no longer exists. For example, the American expression “He came to me with his hat in his hand” depends heavily upon the shared experience of the Great Depression.

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A Deadly Substitute

Yesterday we discussed wine and strong drink. The chief concern of Solomon and the wise men was not the substance we call alcohol, but addiction to alcohol or the compulsion to drink it. The same concern exists for any other substance on which someone becomes dependent. Mind-altering drugs, of course, create similar problems, only quicker and more intensely.

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Moderation versus Addiction

As we stated yesterday, substance abuse isn’t limited to sleazy back alleys; you can find addiction almost anywhere. The penthouse suite owned by the high roller, nice homes where small children play, efficient offices where business is regularly transacted, military barracks where boredom reigns, professional sports teams where competition is fierce and money is plentiful—the problem knows no economic or social boundaries.

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Prosperity: Not Too Little, Not Too Much

As we conclude our examination of balance or the lack of it, let’s return to where we started. A wise man of Israel reflected on his wealth and its effect on his relationship with God. He then formulated this prayer asking the Lord to help him maintain a wise balance: Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches;

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Choose Joy

Psalm 100 wastes no time with preliminaries. Rather than try to convince the reader to praise the Lord for His goodness and our many blessings, the composer issues three commands in the first two verses. The Commands. Shout joyfully to the LORD (100:1). This is quite a beginning! The Hebrew gets straight to the point. In fact, the term “joyfully” doesn’t appear in the Hebrew.

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