2010-10-20

Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 5 On Christian Virtues

What are the main virtues of Christians? What is Jesus like? We have the fruit of the Spirit described in Gal 5:23-24 as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know the 9 descriptions can be grouped, even as one word, LOVE, as LOVE is defined by Paul in 1Co 13:4-8 Love is  patient,  kind; rejoice at righteousness and truth and bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love is  not envy nor boastful  nor arrogant nor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.

In Lao Zi's Dao De Jing Chapter 67, we have descriptions of 3 virtues of Love, Frugality and Putting Others First. Here is the details:

天下皆謂我道大 似不肖。夫唯大故似不肖。 若肖,久矣!其細也夫。
我有三寶 持而保之:一曰慈, 二曰儉,三曰不敢為天下先。
慈故能勇,儉故能廣,不敢為天下先 故能成器長。
今舍慈且勇,舍儉且廣,舍後且先,死矣!
夫慈以戰則勝,以守則固。天將救之 以慈衛之
My translations:
All people under the heaven think that the Great Way (of Heaven that I preach) is useless or foolish. That is because greatness seems like folly. If it is useful, in the long run, it will be narrow and small. 
I have three treasures that I keep with me all the time. The first is love. The second is frugality (thriftiness, self-control). The third is not wanting to be first in the world. Love enables me to be brave. Frugality enables me to be generous. Not wanting to be first enables me to perform well and become the leader.
The people nowadays discard love and bravery, discard frugality and generosity, discard being last and fight for first, it will surely bring forth death!
Love will bring forth victory in attack and strong protection in defense.
Heaven will save such people and protect them with love.
 The 3 virtues corresponds to the teachings of the Bible well.
  1. Love: (Love is the Greatest)
    This is very obvious. Lao Zi added bravery with it. Loving others causing us to risk our lives to save them. This is precisely what Jesus did for us. He died on the cross to save us from the punishment of our sins. In addition, Lao Zi stress that Love always win whether in active or receptive mode. God also save and protect such people that act with love.
  2. Frugality or Self-Control in spending: (Generosity is blessed)
    Because we exercise self-control in our spending, we shall have much to give away and be generous.
    Psa 37:21  The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;
    Psa 37:26  He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing
    .
  3. Not-Seeking to be First: (Servant Leadership)
    He is always thinking about others and putting others first. He is always serving others. No wonder that such people who put others first become the rightful choice of a leader.
    Mat 23:11  The greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Mat 19:30  But many who are first will be last, and the last first
In summary:
Love bravely, be frugal to be generous and put others first are virtues for greatness.

Previous: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 4 On Giving to Abundance
Next: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 6 On Wealth from Righteousness 

    2010-10-18

    Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 4 On Giving to Abundance

    Giving is a virtuous character of the believer. Giving resulting in abundance of returns is taught by Jesus in
    Luk 6:38  give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
    The last sentences of Lao Zi's Dao De Jing verse 81b teaches this too. Here is the detail:

    聖人不積。
    既以為人己愈有。
    既以與人己愈多。
    天之道利而不害。
    聖人之道為而不爭。

    My translation is:
    Wise man do not accumulate things for himself.
    The more he help others, the more he has!
    The more he give to others, the more he gets!
    The way of Heaven is always beneficial and never harmful.
    The way of the Wise is to work for others and yet claim no glory or rewards.
    Such concepts are very difficult to receive and believe by modern man in this competitive world. This resulted in some translator of Dao De Jing to include his warning that Lao Zi's teachings cannot be followed mechanically.

    As believers, because the similar verse of 'giving first and receiving multi-folds return' is taught in the Bible and by Jesus in particular, we can believe and practice accordingly.

    You will see from my posting that Biblical truth is my reference point in interpreting and learning from the Chinese Classics. The Chinese Classics often bring forth additional and finer ideas that I would have missed in the Bible. Hope you will benefit from such ideas too. Click on the Label Chinese Classics to find such similar posts.

    Previous: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 3 On The Golden Rule of Love
    Next: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 5 On Christian's Virtues

    2010-10-17

    Five Habits for Effective Christian Living

    We grow through the years. We learn more and more as we journey through life. Nevertheless, some of the old things, better termed 'the foundational things', do not change but rather gets more solid as they stand the test of time.

    I started blogging to share in May 2006, but I am believer since 1969. A key message that I preached in a series of messages in Apr 2006 is still as relevant today. It was titled "Five Habits for Effective Christian Living". I used to preach in Mandarin in those day and here is a key summary slide of the message with English and Chinese words.


    The Foundational Principle - "Abide in Christ"
    The basic principle for the 5 habits is to abide in Christ. By developing the five habits, we get to know more and more about Jesus and grow up to be like Him. (See Eph 3:16-22, Rom 8:29-30). We are transformed from the inside out. We think, feel and act like Christ.

    The Five Habits Are:
    1. Know the Truth
    2. Believe the Truth
    3. Talk or Confess the Truth
    4. Walk/Do the Truth
    5. Share the Truth (Group Victory)
    6. Resulting in the Growth in the Truth
    Here is a slide that show how the Word of Truth is internalized from the book of the Bible into our mind and deep into our hearts. It also shows how we use the 5 senses of our body to build up the inner man of the heart. Our body are not to be despised or cut off but rather be our instruments for righteousness, holiness and glorification of God. Our body is the temple of God testifying for God and impacting the world.


    Don't see thing from one point of view. Don't live life by following the fashion and hype of the day. See thing systematically. See the forests and navigate a path through the trees and live victoriously. Develop the balanced life with the 5 habits.

    2010-10-12

    "I am and I change not" - True Character

    In my previous post Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 3 On The Golden Rule of Love, we talk about "Love your enemy" and "being faithful even when others are not".

    How could we do that?
    1. Loving the one that betrayed you.
    2. Being faithful when the other is unfaithful.
    The secret is revealed in the 2nd part of the verse

    • 2Ti 2:13  if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself.

    Because God is love and God is faithful, he cannot act otherwise. True character is not changed by external things. It does don't change because others do something bad to him. The common saying that a tiger does not loose its stripes.

    God's name is the "Great I AM" and Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Jesus does not love us less because we sin. Nor does he loves us more because we do good. Our goodness or badness have impact on us and not on God's love for us.

    Our reactions then to external circumstances and to the things that our 'friends' do to us is a measure of our character. What are we made of? Of the old life of selfishness and self-centeredness or the new life and identify of Jesus Christ? This the degree of maturity with Christ likeness as the reference standard. We can look at it from the negative side - how we react to bad situations. We can also look at it from the positive side - how we behave when we are successful and wealthy. Will we be led astray to think that we achieve it and become arrogant and proud? Or will we live with a grateful heart and manage the success and wealth wisely as God's good stewards? According to the Parable of the Sower, it seems richness is a bigger test than persecution.

    The key lesson we want to learn from this
    Be true to our new identity in Christ and act accordingly from it.
    Be not influenced by what happened to us to cause us to react outside of our character.

    Loving our betrayer and being faithful are our Christ-like character and are only natural for us to behave that way.
    (note: Truth, Righteousness and Justice are also Christ's character. We love the man in the sinner and not the act of the sinner. There is the need to point out and correct with love. Love is not without justice, truth and righteousness).

    Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 3 On The Golden Rule of Love

    For Christians, the golden rule of love as commonly cited is:
    Mat 7:12  "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
    But I find that there is one even more powerful than that. It is this:
    Mat 5:44  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Mat 5:45  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
    Among the Chinese Classics, we can find the passive equivalent of the golden rule in Confucius Saying in Lun Yu "What you don't want, don't do it to others" 己所不欲,勿施于人”《论语·颜渊篇》. Chinese manners are more passive and do not impose on others. Imposing on others is considered rude.

    Confucius was also more restrictive in the second part of 'love your enemy'.  In LunYu 14:34 或曰‘以德報怨、何如’ Someone asked,"What about repaying injury with kindness?"
    子曰‘何以報德、以直報怨、以德報德’ Confucius said,"Then how do you repay kindness? Repay injury with straightness (justice) and kindness for kindness".

    For the more powerful equivalent of "Love your enemy", we have to go to Lao Zi's Dao De Jing verse 49.

    The Chinese version is:
    聖人無常心。 以百姓心為心。
    善者吾善之。 不善者吾亦善之 德善
    信者吾信之。 不信者吾亦信之、 德信
    聖人在天下歙歙焉, 為天下渾其心。
    百姓皆注其耳目, 聖人皆孩之。 
    The wise man has not the normal heart for oneself. His heart is for the hearts of the people.
    Those that are kind, I am kind to them. Those that are unkind, I am also kind to them. Hence, kindness is gained (i.e. unkindness is transformed by kindness. A stronger translation is - that is the meaning of the virtue of kindness)
    Those that are faithful, I am faithful to them. Those that are unfaithful, I am still faithful to them. Faithfulness is obtained.
    (Bible : 2Ti 2:13  if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself. )
    Wise man consider the society and restrict and muddied his own desire.(i.e. no desire for his own)
    The people focus their eyes and ears to see and hear. Wise man guide and care for them as children. (See Joh 10:11  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . 1Pe 5:2  shepherd the flock of God that is among you)
    If we replace the 'wise man' with Jesus, it matches the Bible well.

    Lao Zi repeated this in Verse 63 報怨以德  "Repay hatred with kindness"

    I must say that Lao Zi did understand the ways of the Creator better the others including the famous Confucius.

    Previous:Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 2 On Creation
    Next:Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 4 On Giving to Abundance

    2010-10-11

    Entrepreneur Leadership - Kingdom Principles in Business

    Participated in the Chinese FGBF Singapore Kallang organized Asia-Pac Entrepreneurship Conference as speaker and audience. I learned and benefited much. Since the conference was in Mandarin, I will share some of learning here in English so that it can benefit the English speakers.

    The content presented below is my own learning from what I heard and may not be exactly what the speaker say. If there be any error, it is due to my perception. We see things with our colored glasses and may only want to hear what we like. As I am writing on the mind-map while listening, my notes are incomplete too. With that as a warning, let me share what I learned.

    From Dr Ma, learn the following keys:


    From Dr Jerry Chu, I learn the following keys:


    Dr Ian Chung pointed out that mindset of the CEO should be:



    The other topics are rather technical in nature and not shared here.

    My sharing is on innovation can be found in my mindvalue-blogs and website - BVITS Innovative Thinking Methods. The spiritual aspect of my talk is shared in this blog.

    For related posts, see
    1. Kingdom Laws & Principles
    2. Business by Jesus

    2010-10-10

    Grace Based Growth - A Balanced View

    We have short term memory and we are easily stirred and excited by the things we heard and things that happened to us recently. We so easily forget the good things that God and others had given to us. We are easily led by the latest hype. Now and then, we need to go back to the fundamental belief, to examine whether we have growth in the right way. We have to see whether this latest hype is just a fad, a recast of a lie, or a new revelation of God built on the already known foundations of Biblical truth.

    A key issue, addressed in many of my past postings, is about Christian growth and the related issue of work, performance and accountability. See for examples:
    1. Facing The Reality of Life - Continued Judgments
    Whether we like it or not, reality exists and is independent of our wishes or likings. Our lives will be judged, now by people like our parents, friends, colleagues, bosses and society, and eventually by God. Heb 9:27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. The BIG question is, will we pass?


    2. The Positive Answer is Ensured by Grace of God in Jesus
    The answer to the Big question has been answered by God in the positive long time ago through and by Jesus. In Jesus Christ, the answer is "Yes, we pass". We don't have to live in fear and doubt. We can live in peace and joy because of Jesus and not due to any thing that we do to earn it. It is merely by acceptance of the gift of Jesus. Hence, Paul, stressed twice, in Eph 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Eph 2:9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    If we insist we want to do it, then our action is simply an action of faith in Jesus' word by the acceptance of the grace extended. It is simply a response of faith with thanks giving.


    3. The Beginning is the First Step - It is the Start of Growth to Glorification
    Paul did not end the 'grace by faith' in Eph 2:9, but continue with Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. It clearly shows that the grace did not end with our salvation (saved) but is to continue to complete His "workmanship". We are to continue to walk by the grace given to reach the His masterpiece(that's us) that He pre-planned long ago (Eph 1:4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world). In short, we are saved for God glorying works through grace.


    4. From Calling, Justification to Glorification
    Let me emphasize this journey of growth by quoting from Paul Rom 8:29-30 showing the stages of growth:
    • He foreknew 
      • He predestined -> to be conformed to the image of his Son
        • He called
          • He justified
            • He glorified
    Grace is for the whole journey beginning from transformation, all the way to glorification and conforming to the image of Jesus.
    Grace is given for transformation and growth
          from being (new identity in the inside, rebirth, now 2 Cor 5:17)
          and to become (outside, image, behavior) like Christ Rom 8:29
    5. The Measure and the Ultimate Growth is Be Like Christ

    Since the ultimate state of growth is 'to be conform to the image of Christ', then the measure of growth will be "Likeness to Jesus". Do we believe, think, feel, decide and act like Christ? How often did we behave like Christ. The answer should be 'all the time' (100%) because we have the Christ in us with the enabling power of grace. But in the growth process, as children, we may be 10%-40%, as young man, may be 40-80%, and as father (80-100%). 1John 2 tells us much about the characteristics of the 3 stages and how to grow from one stage to the other.

    6. Two Common Errors on Growth

    1. Like Christ by Self Effort - leading to burn-out and abuse
      Emphasis is put on following the commandments of the Bible without the leading the of Holy Spirit. It is work for Christ and not work with Christ. It is work that I think it is good for Christ rather than getting to know the will of Christ for the moment and then work out in faith.
      (Note: reading the Bible, communication with Jesus are spiritual disciplines that are the will of Jesus for every believers. But as to when, how long, how often, it is something that the Holy Spirit will guide. It is the more the better in general).

    2. Already Attained - No growth needed.
      This group see that they are complete already in Christ and hence don't see any need for any spiritual discipline. Any discipline is seen as fleshly work. They move by inner feelings and seen anything strenuous as of the flesh, legalism and will quit. They will quit also any time that don't have the feeling as well. Suffering is not in the vocabulary as Christ has already paid all.

      They don't understand the tripartite nature of man. See The Tripartite Man, Salvation of Tripartite Man - The Details.

      For a more in-depth study, see Degree of Grace - From Grace-less to Ultra-Grace
    7. Doing Growth Rightly - The Unified Model

    We have mentioned the John's 3-Stage model above. Peter has a 8-stage model in 2Pet1 that I titled Normal Christian Life Style.

    For a more in-depth coverage, see Christian Transformation & Growth -The Unified Model

    8. Don't be Deceived, Growth Comes Through Abiding in Jesus through Obedience
    Growth does not come by being idle. Growth comes connecting to Jesus and by obedience to His words. 

    Jesus said the secret of growth and fruit bearing is abiding in Him. Joh 15:5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. See also We can do Nothing apart from Jesus.

    John reminded us that abiding is obedience. 1Jn 2:6  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 

    Evil is overcome by the abiding word as in 1Jn 2:14  ... young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.