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Giving and receiving, two sides of the same coin

Published 1:22pm Monday, July 2, 2012

I have termed this kind of column random thoughts, but it might be better to think of them as occasional thoughts. Not only so because I present them occasionally, but because they have been occasioned by something I observed or experienced. Here, then, is another installment.

There is such a thing as the reciprocity of giving-receiving. We cannot give selflessly without being willing also to receive, and we cannot receive responsibility without also being willing to give. We do not receive by giving or give after receiving to divest ourselves of social obligation but to perpetuate opportunity.

Thinking about Ecclesiastes, I see many values in accepting Solomon’s advice on how to live “under the sun” even for those who have the perspective from above the sun. We still live down here. There is a believer’s way of applying his realistic description of the secular world. I think we can apply such disturbing expressions as “eat, drink, and be merry” in this way: The anticipation of tomorrow’s unpleasantness does not impose unpleasantness today.

While the past can be neither relived nor revised, it must be remembered so as to escape its mistakes and preserve its accomplishments.

I am convinced history has shown us that conspiracy or other evil intension are seldom the cause of major problems, and the simplest explanation is usually correct: old fashioned incompetence and irresponsibility.

Hindsight is infinitely clearer than foresight. We cannot learn from the past until it is the past, but once we have learned from the past, it can inform our foresight.

Let’s create solutions for the future, not merely fix blame for the past.

When friendship is bought at the price of agreement and conformity, it is only an allusion that suffers inevitable conflict without the possibility of resolution.

What we need is not so much intellectuals as thinkers or, at least, common sense thinking.

It is more important for conservatives to read liberal ideas than yet more conservative ideas. The latter does no more than reinforce bias, while the latter enables one to become intelligently conservative. So, too, is it important for liberals to read conservative ideas and for the same reason.

The claim that 9/11 is “God’s punishment of America for its godlessness” is the same error committed by both North and South during the Civil War in their appropriation of God’s will to serve their own purposes.

“What’s wrong with our country” is not “abortion and homosexuality,” as I have heard preached, but the general failure of professing Christians to become “salt and light” in society.

Any successful farmer knows a farmer has to work a farm to make the farm work. Fewer, like the rest of us, recognize you have to work a marriage to make a marriage work. So, too, do all personal relationships need to be worked for them to work. We learn what works and do it, just as we learn what does not work and do not do it.

Even when we are right in the center of the path God has laid out for us and along which the Holy Spirit is leading us and we are headed in the right direction at a reasonable pace, this path sometimes dips deep down into valleys. When it does, God’s continuing voice may be not as clear and his presence felt not as warmly. Nothing has changed in our relationship, but it is only that foreign factors (unavoidable and, so, necessary, in the corrupted moral topography of this world) have intruded at this point and at this moment. No matter. If we keep following the Spirit’s leading on God’s pathway and headed in the direction of our destination, this same path will yet rise to a more normal level. The clear signal from above and the warm closeness we lost momentarily will return. Further, ahead are not only additional valleys but some mountain tops as well. Whether on the usual plateau, several valleys, or occasional mountain tops, it is the same Lord and the same Spirit as long as we are on the way. How we feel this will vary from the depths of the valleys to the heights of the mountains, but our relation will never vary. Our confidence is found not in the feeling of the moment but in an established relationship.

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