We live in a world full of controversy and strife about "privilege" and "under-privilege." When you mix this with religious and racial differences, you have a recipe for all manner of strife and controversy that retards social and personal progress. How can we get beyond the controversy and strife in order to make our lives matter? There are five simple rules of conduct that can help us to do so.
Even without the advice of Proverbs 10:4, 22, it should be common sense that the person who is idle or lazy will always be poor. This would be applicable for anyone of any religion or race. An unproductive life will not receive the benefits of productivity. I have known of lottery winners and high salaried sports figures who have been reduced to bankruptcy and poverty once they have wasted their wealth in non-productive pursuits. "A fool and his money are soon parted." So, the first rule is this: Be productive. This is a positive energy force by which benefits can and will accrue. Know for a certainty that we will always have poor among us because of the bad, wrong, or selfish decisions people make.
There are some who claim to be rich, but who are very poor, and there are some who claim to be poor, but who are very rich. "Rich" and "poor" in this statement have to be understood in terms other than monetary wealth. Being well-educated provides a source of personal wealth that enables one to sustain his/her personal lifestyle through appropriate employment. It also provides the individual with the mental capacity to solve problems, make plans for the future, organize resources, and execute those mental and physical resources that ensure success. When things fail to materialize as planned, it enables the individual to understand where the problem lies and to execute a contingency plan. The second rule, then, is: Build the mental wealth that cannot be taken away from you. It is intelligent to learn how to succeed by properly training your brain to work for you. If you fill it with negativity and resentment, you will be cultivating an environment in which your true potential will be retarded.
Do not work to become rich and quit relying on your own wisdom. When your mind is set upon becoming rich, it focuses on a goal that is basically unrealistic. Some try various kinds of "short cuts" to riches like playing the lottery, using get rich quick schemes, getting involved with unlawful practices that enrich one at the expense of others, et cetera. These are selfish pursuits.
If your own wisdom leads you down this path, you will become a slave who is ultimately unprofitable. Those who will assist you in this kind of pursuit are trying to trick you into that kind of slavery to themselves. They will use you as long as you are useful to them. You are not really that important to them. Rule #3 is: Avoid selfish pursuits and acquire wisdom from sources that are reliable and honest. Do not become anyone's slave.
One very instructive proverb is this: The eye is never full. Think about the implications of that statement. One mistake that many people make when they begin to taste success is to attempt to acquire personal wealth too quickly. I know of people (myself included) who began to cheat against their future wealth by bogging themselves down in credit. They want to get so much "stuff" as a testimony of their new found wealth that they tie it up with debt. When you get to the point that you are able to make only the minimum payments, then you become a slave of a financial system...and your eye. You can do the same thing when you rely too heavily on government welfare. Rule #4 is this: Avoid decisions that will make a slave of you. Learn how to control the tug-of-war with your eye. It is a fight well worth winning.
Finally, realize that there is a higher power at work in creation that can assist you in making your life matter. I know that many take issue with such comments, but there are numerous individuals who will attest to the fact that such a higher power has been involved in their lives to their benefit. One of the most impressive experiences that mankind has had suggests that when this higher power is neglected and excluded from the minds and hearts of mankind, things go terribly wrong in so many ways.
This higher power is the source of truth, and it does not bring its blessings upon those who resort to falsehoods and selfish pursuits. They might appear to be prosperous and successful, but that is merely temporary and effective only for the present life. Rule #5 is: Seek out this higher power and pursue a personal relationship with it because it is not limited by race, color, creed, political persuasion, or human philosophy and wisdom.
Ask yourself if there are any racial overtones in these rules for making your life matter. To whom does any perceived "privilege" apply in these rules? Is it possible that so much political and social diatribe as found in claims of "White Privilege" and whose lives matter among us is merely humans leaning too heavily upon human wisdom and understanding -- even though they might attempt to mix in "righteous indignation"? I fear that such is the real cause of the problems that exist among us.
It appears that the late cartoonist, Walt Kelly, was right. For many years, he drew a little swamp opossum named Pogo who had numerous adventures in the great Okeefenokee Swamp in southeast Georgia. From time to time, Pogo would gather his swamp friends upon a raft to pole through the Swamp to find and destroy "the enemy." It was not until Kelly decided to retire that Pogo and his friends actually found "the enemy." When they did, Pogo -- brandishing his wooden sword -- exclaimed: "We have found the enemy, and it is us!" How poignantly observant of Walt Kelly! Make your life matter!
Larry E. Ford
Author of "God: Accused or Defended?: Solving the Unsolvable Paradox"
Larry E. Ford has been a minister for 50 years. He holds bachelor's degrees in German and theology, master's degrees in theology and education administration, and a professional certification in English and literature. In 1994, he produced and hosted a local Georgia AM radio program called "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth" and later hosted "Plain Truth with Larry Ford" and "Lessons from the Bible." Also in 1994, Ford became the CEO and Pastor for The Seventh Day Christian Assembly, a non-Adventist organization that offers free Christian educational outreach materials, including a 12-lesson Bible study course and a quarterly magazine, "Spirit and Truth." For more information, visit www.larryeford.org.
"God: Accused or Defended?: Solving the Unsolvable Paradox"
By Larry E. Ford