By W.G. “Bert” Enostacion
The values on what our Lord Jesus imparted in Matthew 16:24, was a simple “detachment” from self as the way to happiness that lasts. If we want to keep a warm and healthy relationship with others, we should adopt another axiom instilled by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:1-5, that of putting others first and placing ourselves last. Paul pleaded, “. . . let this mind be in you as also in Christ Jesus!”
Just very recently, Kenneth Marrs in one of his sorties around, admonished, “. . . when we are faced with a choice, we choose for ourselves the worst, leaving the best for others.” His piece of advice runs counter to modern attitudes of brethren, which drive people to keep on asking, “what is in it for me?” before getting involved in anything or before giving anything away.
For us to be happy, we do need to give ourselves away, a simple but vivid application on what our Lord said as “self denial.” The Chinese proverb about lifetime happiness and the Christian virtues of “taking up one’s cross,” tells us the same basic message: to give of ourselves and to be detached of ourselves are the sure way towards lasting happiness. Detachment first applies to material things for ourselves.
They are basic and necessary, but we cannot be avaricious of them, for putting our heart on them, and counting on them as the measure of the success of our life would leave us holding on to wealth that slips inexorably out of our hands; moreover, it leaves our hearts empty and our spirits in a void.
Neither can we put our fate on the accumulation of honors, praises of lips, and symbols of fame and adulation by the masses; neither on the self-satisfaction of good feelings and of self-pride; neither on the dominion and “lordship” over others of our ideas and preferences. Like wealth, honor, emotions, power and glory pass, many times sooner than we like to imagine. They may all be vital and important, up to a point. But we cannot be so attached to them that we are blinded from the pursuit of the good of others; for it is this noble pursuit, which makes us fly away from the narrow cage of self, which also makes us bigger, far better and happier!
The Need of Generosities and Understanding
It is by going out of ourselves, to the family, to friends and most of all, “unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10; 1 John 3:16-18), that we broaden our horizons and expand our field of vision and interest. We see and treat our brethren not as “stepping stones” to the satisfaction of our appetites, lusts, and pride as well as to the realization of our ambitions as with regards to those who have possessed the “crab mentality”; but rather, as objects of love and affection, in whom we can invest our variable time and generosities Thus, we make ourselves available to them. We look for equal time to them. We give ways by which we can steal a piece of heaven for them even whilst they are here on earth with us. Through small details of service, we try and build up ever bigger positive reserves in the “spirit of Christ” for the spirit of peace. How long we have been separated from each other? I don’t want to think of it.
We manage to keep our relations with them always warm, full of attention and affection. Good feelings can be sustained only by concrete expressions of warm and tender caring; to reinforce their strengths; to give in to their lives; to draw them out particularly when they are feeling down; to help them in their struggles to be better. Often, we have to put ourselves in their place, and then to practice the “Golden Rule” of doing to them what we would want others to do unto us. In this way, we will always be positive and creative, knowing that others go through changes of circumstance and therefore are in need for help, advice and emotional reinforcement.
We cannot love others with our heart alone. We also have to give them a piece of our mind and share of our spirit. By taking a deep interest in their changing circumstances, we show genuine understanding of the predicament they may find themselves in. When they have gotten off the main road, we feel sorry and feel their frustration (1 Cor. 12:26), and with compassionate love, delicacy, and patience we ex-tend a guiding hand if and when they decide to make a turn and get back on to the right track. When they slow down their pace of improvement on the gospel efforts, we can show them how to catch up and take on a more healthy speed, with love and comfort. Always we ex-tend to them a sincere friendship that never fades nor wavers, good examples that inspire, benevolent hands that share, and many possible grace from our prayers that uplift.
Our Need of Openness and Sincerity
Divisions destroy a nation; factions create hatred and stimulates by envy and jealousy! The Apostle Paul laid down some thoughts in 1 Corinthians 6:7 to “suffer yourselves to be defrauded!”
Friendship keeps us ever open to family, friends, and brethren. We are transparent to them. We keep that attractive simplicity in our feelings for unity among all and peace with no reproach. We let them know where we stand, how we feel, and why we draw the line of importance and essential points. Within proper bounds, we keep no secrets from all and the less barriers we allow to stand between them and ourselves, the better the flow of communication, the easier the over-all relationship.
Ordinarily, we speak out of our mind. We tell the truth. We remove as much guile as possible from our interaction with them. Our “no” is a real negative reply, and our “yes” connotes nothing other than real affirmations. We know how to stand our ground and take whatever consequences it may for doing so. We state our opinions always clearly and politely, and we are smart enough to distinguish the many points where we can easily change our mind after listening to others, and the few essential points where we cannot give in, not even by an inch, because principles and convictions of faith are involved.
Our oneness to family, to friends, and to our dear brethren, makes us readily submit to their opinions, preferences, and wishes. We do not hang on to our own as though these are all carved in stone before which everyone else must bend. Indeed, part of the excitement of life lies in the diversity and differences presented to us by others whom we put our trust and confidence without any mixture of animosity. We certainly can enrich our life by picking and choosing those many elements, better than the ones we started out with, from this rich menu of peace, love and genuine understanding, coming from our Lord into ourselves.
We trust that those brethren in our midst who nourish axes to grind to learn from this thesis. Submitting to others in this regard does not make us smaller, poorer, or worse off; however, taking up our own “Cross” is far better. Such humility only raises us to a much higher level, where we end up bigger, richer in spirit (matured!) and far more wiser.
We noted a jubilant Jim McDonald after witnessing a joyful embrace of brethren, who for long stayed in opposite direction, with teary eyes he said: “Bert, its a good day today.” It really is! It’s a victory for peace and unity! As the Psalmist penned, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133:1).
Now once again, brethren could renew their relationship and could work hand-in-hand in fellowship with one an-other again. The once lost love and affection with each one has been obtained for good toward the Master for the gospel for a better tomorrow. Then and only then, can we count our faith as matured and our work as progressive today and in the coming new millennium and beyond.
Brethren, for the sake of unity, why not inhale “the spirit of peace?” It’s the only fat that is non-fattening! Amen!
Guardian of Truth XLI: 21 p. 17-18
November 6, 1997