Basic Principles for Living Well - Proverbs 21

Living well is not a complicated things. The basic principles are quite obvious. It is only when we try to out-smart such basic principles that we get into great difficulty and suffering. What are these basic principles? Proverbs 21 tell us.
The 8 Basic Principles:
Proverbs 21 give us eight basic principles that we can follow to live a good life.  Here is an outline in mind-map format:
1 God Overrules - God is in charge. 
Follow Him. Don't think you can cheat God.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, Psalm 111:10.

The very first principle for living is that there is a God and God is in charge of all. You can never out-smart or cheat God. To men, a king seems to have all the power but he cannot go against God. Consider the Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, he finally gave in to God and let Moses and his people go. His change of mind and his pursuit of them only ended in the death of him and his troops.

Chinese has a simple saying, "人在做,天在看." meaning "when men are doing, God is watching". There are longer version of the saying, such as,
“小心报应,不是不报,只是时机会到,人在做天在看, 举头三尺有神明,”
Be careful of the retribution. It is just that the time has not come.
What men are doing, God is watching.
Lift up your head and know that 3 feet above there live a God.

Proverbs 21 ends with v31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.
Which is similar to
Proverbs 16:9 [CEV] We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go.
An equivalent Chinese saying is "谋事在人,成事在天"
Planning belongs to men but success is from God.

See also Man plans and God gives the Outcome - Proverb 16

So life should begin with knowing God and His ways and to live life accordingly.

2 Live Rightly & Justly
Life becomes meaningful when we do the right things and also uphold justice.

3 Arrogance is the beginning of Evil
Watch it! Mock not. This is a surprise to me. Thinking oneself is so great will lead us into thinking others are meant for us use or really abuse. The early sign of warning is the way we speak and behave. We look down on others and mock them. We say nasty things about them. Watch our words and see if there are arrogance in them.

4 Wealth - Get it Rightly and Use it Wisely
The Bible does not condemn wealth. It is the love of money and not money itself that is the root of all evil. Get the money in the right way and then use them wisely too.
See also How to Get Wealth and Go for Something Even Better...

5 Evil & Its bad Outcomes - So Stay Away from Evil.

6 Quarrelsome Wife makes life miserable - Choose Your Wife and Friends carefully.
Stay away from negative and complaining people. If you are strong enough, then perhaps you can help them change with your love and wisdom. Surround yourselves with positive people.

7 Making Peace with Gifts -Do it discretely. Give face.
Living peacefully with others is a key for happiness. Chinese has a saying, 家和万事兴, when there is harmony in the family, then every thing will blossom. One good way to restore peace is to seek forgiveness or to befriend with gifts and acts of kindness. Repay evil with good says the Bible. It will convert an enemy to a friend. However, please do it quietly and discretely. It is a matter between you and him. Your gifts or acts of kindness must be from his point of views. Find out what he likes first.  Don't over do it as it may become an insult. e.g. giving too much money or too expensive gifts becomes an insult.

8 Speech - Don't talk too much. Don't lie nor boast.
Our tongues are most difficult to control yet they are easily the main cause of endless quarrels, misunderstanding and fights. Control our urge to speak. Make sure our words are encouraging. Make sure we earn the rights to speak, especially of correction.

The Details:

By following the principles here, we can live well.

Lim Liat (c) 27 Jan 2016


How to Get Wealth and Go for Something Even Better - Proverbs 22

The Bible tells us that wealth has power. It even shows us how to get wealth the right way. The ability to get wealth is not decided by God but rather by us! It shows us to go for something better than wealth, tell us to start young and a solid foundation. All these wisdoms are in Proverbs 22.
Digesting Proverbs 22
Proverb is a book that is more like a list of PowerPoint bullet statements of wisdom. For ease of understanding, we did to re-organized them. In the midst of Proverb 22, v21 sticks out to say " Have I not written for you thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge, ".  But it is v21, we only have 20 verses wisdom. If we go back to Proverb 21, it has 31 verses.  It is not easy to find out where and what the 30 saysings are. But, the more important and useful things for us to do is to read the verses and get the wisdom there in.

The Outline of Proverbs 22
I reorganize the list of sayings and come out with logical flow as show in the mind-map below:

This Proverbs tells us much about wealth, its power and how to get it in the right and wrong ways. v2 tells us that the rich and the poor share one thing in common - that is they are all created by God. So I put this verse at the start to establish the key point that God is fair and there is no favouritism with God. God did not destine someone to be rich or poor. It is all up to us. Yes, people born into rich families have a better start than those who are born into poor family. But we know of the many stories of how the rich 2nd and 3rd generations spent away their wealth and become poor. On the otherhand, there are many rags to riches stories.  We are what we do with the gifts and talents that God gives us. So pass the bug to blame God but take up the responsibility and accountability for our own.

God teaches us how to get wealth. It starts with getting wisdom. Wisdom begins with knowledge of God and to trust Him. Trusting Him means knowing His standards of right and wrong and being faithful in obeying his teaching. Obedience is the consequence of our trust in God. If we don't obey Him, it shows that we don't really believe in Him. We think we can out smart God.

So, we know something that is more foundamental and important than wealth. That is God's stasndard of right and wrong. We must not only know them but also to teach others. When people ask us is this right or wrong? We can give them the right answer.

Knowing right and wrong is best to start when we are young. So, we must train our children to know and to internalize the Godly values. We train them up by teaching and also by correcting. We watch our children behavior and when they do wrong, we must correct them by showing them their errors and also by reminding them of the right things to do. Just saying what is wrong without telling what is right is of no help. Don't assume children will know when we just say it once. Children learn more from our own behavior. Do we behave as what we preach to them? Some children is able to listen and some children need some punnishment. Deal with the children according to their personalities. One more thing, after the punnishment, remember to hug them and love them to clearly send out the signal that they are loved and only that particular behavior was bad.

The foundation for wealth is actually living rightly. Living rightly brings you honor and influence that exceeds what wealth can bring. A good name is more desirable than wealth. But wealth has it influence and can be of good use. Except, we must seek it in the right way. With the wrong way, by cheating and bullying, we just end up loosing our wealth and even our souls.

The chapter ends with a list of danger and what not do.

The mindmap for Proverbs 22:

Lim Liat (c) 23-1-2016


New Living for the New Year - Philippians 3:13

Instead of just living on New Year Wishes, it is better to make sure it will be a fruitful year by examining your values and living out the new values. The key for a good year is Paul's admonition in Php 3:13b "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead." Let's see what he meant that we may live it out to our benefits.
Here is the mind-map:

The Key Verse:

  • Php 3:13b "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead."
What to forget? What to go for? How to forget? How can I apply to my life?
These questions are addressed below.

What to forget? 
We must find out what Paul meant from the context of his letter. He counts as loss and garbage those things that he valued much before knowing Christ such as his Jewish birth, the circumcision, his status as a Pharisee, his adherence to the Laws, and even his passion in guarding his beliefs and persecuting the church. Those were the things he strived to gain his righteousness, to be accepted and justified from God. He told us he has a new values system, Jesus Christ. Everything should be judged by Christ's point of view. Knowing Christ is more important than anything else in the world.  Paul's experience was like that of Nicodemus, who was also a Pharisees and a ruler of the Jews. He came to see Jesus and saw Jesus as a teacher to teach men to be better. But Jesus destroyed his thinking that being better is still not good enough. Jesus was more than a teacher. He was the Savior that was to be lifted up to die for and to save men. Nicodemus needs to start all over again with a new birth in the Spirit of God. His past efforts, even of worldly greatness, is of no use for his salvation. He must count them as losses in order to gain Christ. He must put his faith in Christ to save him.

What to go for? 
In Paul's new found knowledge of Christ, the very key concept is "righteousness of God is by faith in Jesus Christ". It is not by man's effort to justify and save himself. It is not possible and it is useless. For henceforth, we must see things and value things from Christ's perspective. We are to live out the new creation, as children of God, within us. While the verse started with "forget", it actually ends with "remember", the goal, our destination that Christ has given His life for! We are called to remember the purpose of Christ's death and the new status that He has achieved and given to us. It is to remember the purpose of the past deeds.

How to forget? 
Very often, telling us to forget something actually reinforces the memory of that very thing to forget. So there are proper steps to bring closure to our past hurts or even past glory. Past successes lure us to live in the good old days. Past hurts caused us to make wrong decisions. Bitterness will poison our spirit and our body. We need to bring closure to both. With the new found faith in Christ, we have a new beginning and a new power to bring closures to our past so that they don't haunt us. We are to extends our new birth into the past to heal the hurt and to have a new valuation of our so-called successes so that we can live freely and victoriously in the new life.

How can I apply to my life?
To know Christ and to experience in resurrected power is about reading his Words, communion with prayers, and also putting the Words and guidance in actions. Only in walking out His ways do we experience His grace and power. Live not in fear anymore but in faith in Him. Living in faith is not just a moment of a decision but a journey of the life of putting our trust in Him and His values. Then we are able to always rejoices no matter what. Then we are able to be his good testimonies bringing glory to Him. His glory is seen in our behavior on earth.

Wishing you a better new year founded on the new life by faith in Christ.

Lim Liat (c) 4 Jan 2016