You Didn’t Build That!

President Obama and Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney have been battling back and forth about the Imagemeaning of President Obama’s words to small business owners: “You didn’t build it.”  While the President and some Democrats state that Romney and the Republicans took him out of context, Romney & the Republicans insist that the President meant what he said, that Government built people’s businesses.  My intentions are not to take a side in this debate, but to ask, “Who really should be credited with the building of our lives (whether in business, family, physical or spiritual)?”

The issue in question in this debate is “who deserves the credit for our ‘success’?”  Is it the government?  Is it the small business owner?  Is it friends and family?  Is it the customers? Who?

In looking at this debate, why would we even leave out God, who ordains our steps, who gives mercy and grants success/victory and oversees failures/defeat, who causes nations (& businesses) to rise and to fall, who places kings on their thrones and removes them based on His will?  To give credit solely to the small business owners would be to ignore God and would resort to pride of the owner (I built that by myself!).  To give credit fully to Government would be to ignore God’s hand of providence and control (You couldn’t do it without me (that is, Gov’t)!).

Psalm 127:1-2 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city,the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

As we look at such debates and conflicts of “who takes the credit,” we must always look to the Scriptures to discern truth from opinion.  Builders (small business owners / mothers & fathers, etc.) build and put forth their efforts to do so.  These builders are subject to the laws / taxes of their states where God has placed them and who allow businesses to receive government grants.  It is God who knows the steps of business owners.  It is God who places them where they are.  It is God who gives them the health, the knowledge, and the skills to build.  It is God who grants success.

Let us not be so quick to give credit where it is undue or take credit where it is undeserved.  This is all in vain.  But let us together give full credit and glory to God who builds the home, the business, and our lives and be grateful to Him for all that He has provided for us.  Certainly, He deserves the credit.

SUCCESS!

When I was in Jr. High School, one of the cheerleaders accustomed to the cheer “S-U-C-C-E-S-S, that’s the way we spell SUCCESS!” spelled the word “success” wrong on her spelling test.  She was not successful, at least not in spelling that word.  Many years have passed and I’m sure she ismore successful now.  What about you?  Are you successful?  Are you successful in life? In marriage?  In parenting?  In your job?  What are the standards in which you measure success?  Here are a few standards that were sent to me by my spamfather (aka father-in-law) Bob:

At age 4 success is not peeing in your pants.

At age 12 success is having friends.

At age 16 success is having a drivers license.

At age 35 success is having money.

At age 50 success is having money.

At age 70 success is having a drivers license.

At age 75 success is having friends.

At age 80 success is not peeing in your pants.

We all have different standards of success in life.  Success may mean different things to different people.  But what does success mean to God?  Does God define success by our standards of having 2.5 kids, a white pickett fence, spouse, dog, cat, and a job that pays well?  No.  I believe He might define our success as being

S-inners

U-nder

C-hrist’s

C-ross

E-very

S-ingle

S-econd.

Success in His eyes is to believe in Christ’s death on the cross and have our lives demonstrate this belief through our actions.  We will not be perfect in this.  Being perfect is what Christ had done.  That is His success.  Not ours.  Ours is to believe and live out our beliefs through obedience.  And when we fail, we return to the cross and believe.  His success in living, dying, and raising from the dead will always trump our failings.  It is all that matters.  Did your marriage fall apart?  Did you lose your job? Did you only have 1.5 kids?  Don’t let these things bring you down.  Only the Accuser wants to point out your failings.  Only the Accuser calls you a failure.  The present and future chapters have yet to be lived.  So partner with Christ to live your life successfully!

Gameshows and Faith: Jeopardy

Growing up, I remember watching the game show Jeopardy with Alex Trebec (with a mustache).  It astounded me how the contestants possessed so much knowledge about things that were utterly useless.  Well, maybe that is debatable.  Some people would find the knowledge of the substance that has the same qualities of a thingamajig that feeds off a whozeewhatsit very useful and intriguing.  Personally, I can barely remember my plans for the weekend after I had just been told by my wife an hour earlier.

I’ve heard it said that “knowledge is power.”  There is so much invested into the education system, so much pressure for students to finish high school well and go to college to get an education to be successful in life.  Though I think it is wise to get a good education to make ends meet in the world we live in, I can’t help but wonder why we as believers put so much emphasis on aquiring knowledge for success in this life, yet put so little effort aquiring the knowledge that leads to eternal life.

Think about it…how much effort, time, money has been invested in education versus the amount of time, effort, and money invested in aquiring the knowledge of God that leads to salvation?  I think sometimes we (Christians) become too comfortable in the knowledge that we already possess: that faith in Christ leads to salvation.  Then, upon acquiring this knowledge and believing in Christ, we think that going to church on Sundays is enough for us, because we cannot invest the time in small groups, reading Scriptures or a Bible based book to help us know Him better…. 

It’s really easy to be so busy that learning takes the back seat.  Believe me, I know.  After a busy day of work, all I want to do is rest, not work the brain more.  However, the pursuit of the knowledge of God and of knowing Him better is an important one.  To cease this pursuit is like being married to a person who says “I do” but then does not choose to try to understand or be with the other person except during obligatory times.  They choose instead to live their lives self-centeredly.  Prov. 9:10 says that “…knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  We all want to be understood, because to be understood is to be known and loved.  But it takes a lot more time and effort to understand.  Pursuing the knowledge of God is understanding who He is:  His desires, His motivations, His love, His devotion, His faithfulness…Him.  When we understand Him better, the result is that we understand ourselves (our identity, worth, purpose, etc.) even more (not that understanding ourselves is the goal – just a result).

While pursuing knowledge, Paul reminds us in I Corinthians that knowledge, in itself, “puffs up.”  Without love, knowledge is useless.   The reason that we go to school is to acquire further education so that we can use it, right?  The knowledge from an education is useless unless you use it.  The Knowledge of God is useless unless it inspires you to love.  

So, brothers and sisters, let’s try not to be comfortable in the knowledge we already have, but seek to pursue the knowledge of God through reading, prayer, small groups, etc.   You may not win Jeopardy by pursuing the knowledge of  God, but you will certainly win God’s praise.  Pursue the knowledge of God and love deeply…you will not be disappointed!