Thursday, May 4, 2017

Putting Enduring, Practical Principles to Use

The person with a well-used Bible rarely has a misused life.
“God will never give you a principle in His Word that you cannot implement.”

A longtime friend made this statement during a retreat recently. Sounds bold and all-encompassing, doesn’t it? What, no exceptions? Well, he didn’t stop there, adding, “When you follow biblical principles, you can never go wrong.”

There are those who would beg to differ, but my friend, Albert, spoke from a vast storehouse of personal experience. A survivor of the ravages of World War II as a boy in the Netherlands, and then more than three years of treatment for tuberculosis, he and his wife eventually immigrated to the United States, where they raised a family and he forged a successful business career.

However, his life has hardly fit the proverbial “bowl of cherries” description. In addition to suffering from a variety of other health maladies, some nearly fatal, Albert’s had his share of business setbacks. And yet, since committing his life to Jesus Christ at the age of 40, he’s found that any time he has encountered a biblical principle and determined to apply it, it’s proven to be sound and practical.

Principles he’s implemented range from decision-making, indebtedness, giving, avoiding surety (becoming obligated for the debts of others), communications, leadership, even rejecting bankruptcy as an option in times of severe financial reversal.

One of the paramount principles Albert has followed comes from 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” With that as the foundation for approaching each day, thoughts and actions can be guided by what the Lord teaches in the Scriptures about right living, working and playing.

I have made the same discovery over the years, both firsthand and through the insights of hundreds of people I’ve had the privilege of interviewing for articles and books. God doesn’t promise any of us pain-free, worry-free lives. Existing in an imperfect world, we’re all affected by its brokenness. But following the truths and principles presented in the Bible helps to make our journey over the bumps and potholes of every day a bit smoother.

Although the Scriptures were written and passed on thousands of years ago, they remain relevant and meaningful – if only we’re willing to consider them with open, receptive minds. As Hebrews 4:12-13 declares, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

If we’re looking for direction, wisdom in how to successfully navigate the challenges life inevitably presents, we’re wise to embrace the biblical principles God has graciously provided. Israel’s King David, who experienced his share of stumbles over the course of his own life, observed,
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your (God’s) word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have had hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9-11).

How can we know for certain? What if we try to implement a biblical principle, especially one that seems counter-intuitive to the world around us, and we wind up in a ditch?

God doesn’t seem at all worried about that. In one particular area – generous giving – He even invites us to put Him to the test: “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’” (Malachi 3:10).

Speaking with the voice of experience, Albert said, “A loving father will never ask you to do something that is not good for you. And our God is truly a loving Father.”

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