Creative Insights for Daily Living

Inspirational Thoughts by G. Lloyd Christensen (Copyright by G. Lloyd Christensen)

Vision is the ability to rejoice in the achievement of short-range goals, but simultaneously setting more short-range goals to reach a long-range goal.

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How we look at life will determine our happiness or misery, whether we look at life with faith and hope or with despair and worry. It is a tragedy for a person when he burdens himself with despair. The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life stumbling around in the darkness of despair and never see the star of hope. Doubt is a destructive force activated by despair. Despair is a self-inflicted burden which destroys the hope for something better and also destroys the spiritual motivation to do the work necessary to bring about success in life, particularly spiritual success.

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Despair clouds one's vision, and his life becomes destructive, rather than creative--and creative life comes through the power of faith. Despair sees nothing great in the present and breeds pessimism about the future. Since despair breeds a lack of faith in the future, there is no promise seen for the future and no goals are set. Despair is negative thinking. People in despair are miserable people who worry a great deal about what happens to them, and who have the habit of looking for the worst in others, a habit of finding fault.

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He who doesn't set short-range goals in conjunction with long-range goals may spend the whole game of life trying to kick a 109-yard field goal.

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Determination is the spark that ignites the flame of initiative. The determination which moves us forward is always born of self-confidence.

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Determination is the fertilizer that brings opportunities to fruition. In some old proverbs, there is the phrase, "wake up to find yourself famous." It may be said that so few wake up to find themselves famous because so few wake up to make themselves the opportunities that might make them famous. They fail to plan out each day when they get up in the morning.

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Determination and decision are twin brothers. Where one is found, the other is usually there, too.

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Indecision is an overtime period in the game of life. A basketball player who fails to concentrate enough in a game, to know how much time is left, often loses the game for his team. His team may be behind by a point or two with just a few seconds left, but the game is not won or is not at least tied up because he dribbled up the court at a slow speed. Or how about what happened twice in the National Basketball Association playoffs one year? The game is tied, but a "superstar" player thinks his team is ahead. With fewer than five or 10 seconds left, he just dribbles the ball near the half-court line, to run out the clock. But to his dismay, when the buzzer sounds to end regulation time, he comes to realize that he just sent the game into overtime. For people who haven't learned how to make decisions, or who are too lazy to make decisions, almost every moment of life is a tie game. No decision only sends the game of life into overtime. They just dribble the ball near the half-court line rather than getting on the ball and scoring points in the game of life.

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Achieving short-range goals is scoring points in the game of life. A victory in the game of life is the achievement of a long-range goal. Victories in the game of life are few and far between for the idler, for the procrastinator, and for the man who makes no decisions. Every moment of life, however, need not be a tie game. He who sets a worthwhile goal makes the first decision necessary to attempt to score points in the game of life.

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Indecision is the leaning tower of despair.

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Concentration means having a goal so clearly in vision that one does not waste time in indecision, but instead makes decisions that lead to the achievement of the goal--and not make any decisions that conflict with the goal. A goal set with sincerity and enthusiasm is in reality making decisions ahead of time. When one is faced with a decision to make, the decision that was made in the form of a goal serves as a guideline in making the decision. Indecision is an overtime game because one has not learned to compete against himself.

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"What nation is most likely to succeed in a difficult enterprise? Determination." (Youth's Companion, Boston, Mass., Sept. 15, 1864.) What nation is most likely to fail in a difficult enterprise? Procrastination.

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Indecision kills the energy of the personality. Indecision is aimless drifting through life. Indecision straddles the fence of ignorance. The man who flounders in indecision lives in a dungeon, the dungeon of doubt. Indecision is a tie vote to a knotty question--do or don't--do something or don't do something– make a decision or don't make a decision. No decision to obey the laws of God is a decision against the laws of God. The man who can't make up his mind will not have the success material to make up anything else. Decision not only means making up one's mind; it also means making up one's life.

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Failure is not one, but a series, of procrastinations.

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Procrastination is the will to fail. It means laziness. Impatience and hesitation, parts of procrastination, cause a person to give up and concentrate on negative thoughts. Procrastination is the art of reincarnating your brain back to yesterday while the rest of your body moves into tomorrow. Procrastination is a perpetual daydream of what might have been.

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Rationalization is a fanatical inventing of excuses. An excuse is often the self-justification used to protect one's pride.

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Procrastination is the art of making excuses before one even fails. The man who invents excuses is most always guilty of infringement on someone else's copyright. Procrastination is the pirate of other people's excuses, whereas initiative is the inventor of ideas of action that turn into organized success methods. Creating excuses is not creativity. Rather, it is destruction of the mind, destroying the embryo of self-reliance and initiative. If an alibi is an invention, then it is an invention with a patented faulty mechanism built right in. If all of a man's excuses were laid end to end, an alibiography would be written.

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Discouragement looks at the depth of impossibilities rather than the height of possibilities.

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Discouragement is the cancer of self-depreciation which eats away the embryo of appreciation.

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Discouragement is dedication to destructive purposes, because it is thought transformed into destructive energy. Discouragement makes nothing happen except bigger depths of bitterness.

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Discouragement is damnation in a pressure cooker.

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Discouragement is morale stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels.

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Discouragement is failure on a rampage.

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The greatest source of courage is God. Foundations of courage include a good self-esteem, spiritual motivation, the ability to make decisions and accept the consequences. Courage is a combination of the lights of happiness, intelligence and purity in one's mind. Courage is the offspring of preparation and knowledge. Setting worthy goals–and making diligent efforts to achieve those goals–builds one's courage, which in turn decreases discouragement. Discouragement is the failure to recognize the opportunities that will lead to the achievement of one's goals. A man who is grateful for his opportunities is more likely to be enthusiastic than the one who fails to thank God for his opportunities. Gratitude for opportunities is creative of initiative to utilize opportunities and also to create more opportunities.

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A person who is discouraged almost all the time may be closing in on the absolute zero level on the thermometer of positive mental attitude. Discouragement is undisciplined fear. Discouragement is a poor engine driven automatically by ignorance.

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"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance; against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23.) Did you notice that Paul wrote the word fruit and not fruits in verse 22? He speaks about the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruits of the Spirit. The analogy here is that of a fruit tree. What grows on an orange tree? Oranges, of course. What grows on an apple tree? Apples, of course. Now what grows on the tree of the Spirit of the Lord? The fruit of the Spirit. Each piece of fruit that grows on the tree of the Spirit includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. On the tree of the Spirit, there is not the fruit of love growing on one limb, and some other limb growing the fruit of joy and on another branch growing the fruit of peace. Rather, each piece of fruit has within it all of the characteristics of spirit of Christ–love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

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Serving without humility is serving without charity. You just cannot have true charity without humility.

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The love of God within a pure heart is a dairy farm that produces the milk of human kindness. This dairy operation is powered by the fuels of gratitude and humility. The milk of human kindness, in turn, is the fuel we need to keep our trains of thought working on the tracks of service.

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A false definition of charity has become predominant in the world, saying that charity is only the giving of money. But true charity is the giving of our time and talents in the service of others. Service with our time and talents will have a much greater impact on the lives of other people than the giving of money. And as we serve with our time and talents, hundreds of little things done anonymously, as directed by the Holy Spirit, will be much greater in the eyes of God than doing one big thing to be seen by others. Service or giving which is done to be seen of others is not true service, is not true Christian giving. Remember what Christ said to others as He served, "See that thou tell no man." (Matthew 8:4.)

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William M. Anderson, Sr., noted that the root words of the word benevolence are bene volens, which "means to wish well–it is the expression of kindness." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 2, 1923.) If we sincerely and honestly wish well for others, we will do good unto them. If a person says, "I wish you well," but does not do anything to contribute to the "wellness" and happiness in other people's lives, then he is not sincere or honest in making such a statement. "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2:15-17.)

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True Christlike service takes spiritual initiative. If all we do is sit around waiting for somebody else to tell us about someone in need or somebody who would be blessed by our service or helpfulness, we are likely to live our lives in the dungeon of self.

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Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40.) When we serve our fellowmen with the pure love of Christ, we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ with all our heart, might, mind and strength. In a sense, the Savior is saying to us, "Inasmuch as ye have served one of the least of these my brethren with my pure love, ye have done it unto me with all thy heart, might, mind and strength."

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W.W. Holmes said, "We are not depositories or reservoirs for God's blessings. We are channels of His grace. The strong owe a debt to the weak. The healthy owe a debt to the sick." (Lake Charles American-Press, Lake Charles, La., Nov. 26, 1920.) Blessings from God are not given for our selfish purposes. Blessings from God are meant to be shared. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." (Luke 12:48.) For unto whomsoever great blessings are given, of him shall be much required to share the blessings. Anyone who tries to "deposit" God's blessings, including talents, gifts and powers, solely for himself, does nothing but bury them and they wither away. Talents, gifts and powers from God stay alive and grow in us only as we use them in service to mankind.

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Hardness of heart is caused by the hardening of the arteries of love.

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Happiness is the sunshine that radiates forth from a pure heart, a heart of righteousness. Happiness is the light of the glory of God in one's eyes. The light of the glory of God shows the way to peace. People with true spiritual joy are they who desire for good in one another's lives. Spiritual joy increases faith in self and confidence in others. Spiritual joy is the light of the eye of faith.

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When we do acts of kindness motivated by the power of the Holy Spirit, kindness functions like a bank. The kindness bank grows when all transactions are administered by the power of the love of Christ. But when selfishness tries to be president of the kindness bank, the funds dry up and the bank is eventually closed. Selfishness and kindness cannot abide in the same heart at the same time. Small acts of kindness can lead to many more small acts of kindness, both by us and by those who have been recipients of acts of kindness–particularly when there is gratitude or appreciation for the kindness. When someone does an act of kindness to you, let it serve as a means of spiritual motivation to do an act of kindness to someone else. Happiness is the sunshine that radiates forth from a pure heart, a heart of righteousness. Happiness is the light of the glory of God in one's eyes. The light of the glory of God shows the way to peace. People with true spiritual joy are they who desire for good in one another's lives. Spiritual joy increases faith in self and confidence in others. Spiritual joy is the light of the eye of faith.

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"Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18.) Where there is no vision of kindness, the people perish in unkindness; that is, where there is no vision of kindness, the people perish spiritually because of negative attitudes toward others, unkind acts toward others, because of bitterness and resentment. The vision of kindness permits us to see not only the present condition of other people, but the vision of kindness also enables us to see people as they can become. As we follow the example of Jesus Christ's kindness, we can become instruments in His hands to bring out His kindness in the lives of those around us. To catch the vision of kindness, we must enlarge our soul by exercising our faith in Jesus Christ and asking in prayer that God fill our hearts with the love of Christ.

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Love is the logic of godliness.

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As followers of Christ, we are called to plant the seeds of kindness. We are called to water the seeds of kindness with the fountain of living waters. Our watering of the seeds of kindness ought to be like a stream that broadens into a river of godly influence, motivating those around us to be kind to others. Jesus Christ is "the Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6.) Jesus Christ is also the Prince of Kindness, because the Savior is the source of the spirit of kindness.

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"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Matthew 7:12.) The Golden Rule begins with the word therefore, meaning that what Jesus Christ said right before He spoke the Golden Rule is applicable in living the Golden Rule. "Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; For every one that asketh receiveth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8.) To live the Golden Rule, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, important questions to ask are, "What would Jesus Christ, our Savior, do to this person? If I treat this person negatively, if I am deceptive or dishonest to him, if I am critical toward him, would I want to be treated that way by him?" We must ask for and seek the Lord's Spirit for the power to resist the temptation to be negative, deceptive, dishonest or critical toward other people.

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Do we build bridges of faith and bridges of love in our relationships with other people, or do we build walls around ourselves? Do we build bridges that carry us over the filthy rivers of cynicism, skepticism and unforgiveness, or do we build walls that surround ourselves in the prison of selfishness, the prison of hate?

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"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40.) Jesus, saying that the second great commandment is like unto the first great commandment, is not commanding us to love our neighbor with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. Rather, He is blessing us with the understanding that when we love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind, we will show that love to different people at various times when He directs to help or serve them, and that direction comes when we listen to the promptings of His Holy Spirit.

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In the Third Epistle of John, John commends Gaius, saying, "Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church." (Verses 5-6.) What does it mean to bear witness of the charity others have shown unto us? It certainly must mean a spirit of gratitude, expressing thanksgiving for those who have lifted our burdens, always being appreciative for Christlike acts of service. This appreciation can, in turn, motivate us with a desire to ask God to fill our hearts with the love of Christ.

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When there is kindness in the heart, that which is said unto others will be motivated by the heart of kindness. Seeds of kindness firmly planted in the heart during good times will provide the power to resist temptations to excuse ourselves for unkindness during the bad times–times when foul moods or negative attitudes could sprout into rudeness or bitterness toward other people. "In her tongue is the law of kindness." (Proverbs 31:26.) All of us need to have the law of kindness in our tongues, so that all way say to others is righteous, pure and kind. "Let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." (1 Peter 3:10.)

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Give of yourself, but only your better self.

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"It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20: 35.) "God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7.) It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but when one receives, he must receive it in cheerfulness. It can be truly said that not only does God love a cheerful giver, but He also loves a cheerful receiver. How many times have we said something like this to someone who has given us a gift, or performed an act of kindness or service unto us: "You didn't need to do this. You shouldn't have done this."? By saying this, what do we mean? Do we feel that we are unworthy to have received the gift or that act of kindness? Or are we making a judgment on the person who gave us the gift or performed the act of service, judging them to have been financially or physically hurt by having done what they did for us? Or are we suspicious of their motives? Do we think there were selfish motives behind it? Others may question our motives, but if we will refrain from judging the motives of others who have given us a gift, we will be happier ourselves. Let the Lord be the Judge of other people's motives.

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George W. Truett said, "It is the business of everyone to be happy, and if one is not it is his business to keep it to himself and not be attempting to impose unhappiness upon others.” (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 12, 1924.) When someone attempts to impose his unhappiness upon us, we come to feel that we cannot say anything to him, for fear that he will blow up in a temper tantrum, or say negative or unkind words, or do other things to impose his misery upon us. Looking at it from the other end of the spectrum, let us remember what Truett said when we find ourselves in the spiritually weak state of discontent or grouchiness. Let us remember that if we feel discontented or grouchy, for whatever reason (such as physical tiredness, frustration of failure, or feelings of inferiority), we have no right to impose our unhappiness upon others.

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Henry F. Cope wrote, "He who is too busy to enter into the little joys of others gives the world no great joys." (Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., April 18, 1909.) He who is unwilling to do little things for others to bless their lives will not experience much joy in his life. Simple acts of service day by day will multiply the happiness of both the unselfish giver and the grateful recipient of the service. There is no true happiness in a life lived solely for oneself. Christ often said, "O ye of little faith." It takes great faith to do the little things that matter most in life. Some people try to do big things with little faith, and the result may be nothing done or something done to be seen of others.

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"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (Matthew 5:5-7.) When a person is meek, he gains great desires for righteousness in his life--he craves for the spiritual food of righteousness. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he is motivated to do works of meekness. The works of meekness are mercifulness in action. In the New Testament, a question is asked: "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?" The answer is that such a man is he in whose life are the "works with meekness of wisdom." (See James 3:13.) The spirit of meekness is doing things with an eye of faith, that we may have the inspiration to do good unto others. The spirit of meekness is also the self-control that overpowers the "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" attitude. Meekness is the talent to make others happy.

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R.J. Briggs said, "Selfishness is the freezing point in the moral temperature of the world." (Austin Daily Statesman, Austin, Texas, Oct. 24, 1904.) And T.B. Larimore said, "Christian charity is never affected by the temperature of its surroundings; it never freezes." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Dec. 7, 1890.) One cannot bring the warmth of God's love into other people's lives without first having that warmth in his own heart through self-sacrifice. Acts of Christian love, charity and kindness are the opposite of being frozen in selfishness and self-pity.

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"The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter." (Deuteronomy 28:56.) Where the fruits of kindness are not found in one's life, there are no seeds of kindness in the soil of his life. If the soils of our lives are not the ground of tenderness, we may be prone to losing our tempers in our homes and speaking evil of other people.

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Persistence is not just a long race toward a long-range goal. It is many races, one after another, to achieve short-range goals that in turn lead to the fulfillment of a long-range goal.

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Perseverance is a matter of regenerating one's enthusiasm to achieve short-range goals, rather than the endurance of extended discouragements. Obstacles are conquered through self-confidence based on perseverance and purpose.

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Hustling secures a key to the door of success, perseverance locates the lock, and determination unlocks the door. The failure is he who, after finding the key to the door of success and unlocking the door, reverses his steps and locks the key inside. The "room for improvement" is often reached by using the key of success to unlock the door of opportunity.

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The room for improvement is the biggest classroom of the school of experience.

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Perseverance is the life of determination. Determination is awake for opportunities on the highway of progress. Determination is a constructive state of mind. It is the child of faith in self. Determination is the accepting of responsibilities courageously. It shoots down excuses for not trying. Determination is the quality of a winner who, by actively working toward his goals, will not accept defeat. Determination strides forward by taking decisive action. The greatest progress comes through perseverance and determination to achieve one's righteous or worthy goals.

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To become a G.I.A.N.T., remember this: Goals Ignite Ambitions and Noble Traits.

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Positive attitudes breed contentment and encouragement–both self-encouragement and self-motivation, and encouraging and motivating other people. Negative attitudes prevent us from realizing our real problems, causing us to always blame others for our problems or to blame society.

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Self-pity concentrates on the success of others, in bitterness and jealousy claiming that they violated the rules of the game. This is self-pity's cover up for not competing against his own past performances.

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Self-pity is the result of a person being disappointed in his ability to govern himself. Self-pity attempts to cover up his mistakes and then boasts as if the mistakes had not been made.

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A person of self-pity tries to "keep up appearances" in an attempt to appear great in the eyes of others, and he also tries to make himself the center of attraction. But as he fails to become the center of attraction, he may try to act or appear as if he has power and authority over others, which power and authority he really does not have. All these actions are a sign of a lack of self-discipline and self-control, and amount to nothing more than the showing off of one's immaturity or mediocrity.

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Wading through self-pity is a fast way to get stuck in the mud of jealousy.

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William W. Seegmiller wrote, "Self-pity is the highway to self-destruction." (Reflector, Denver, Colo., Jan. 15, 1940.) Believe in yourself. Thoughtful faith in yourself is an intelligent self-confidence, a creative self-esteem. Self-respect is the highway of spiritual construction, paved with constructive purposes. Self-confidence means letting the mind dwell on goodness and success. Self-confidence brightens the outlook and lightens the mind from worries. Gratitude to God for our blessings dispels worry and in turn increases self-confidence. Self-confidence is self-respect's hope. We must beware of overconfidence, however, and we must also beware of self-depreciation.

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A person with self-pity always gives you the benefit of the pout.

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David P. Gardner said, "People are not excellent because they achieve great things--they achieve great things because they are excellent." (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 9, 1978.) And Carlysle H. Holcomb wrote, "Don't believe that everybody else is happier than you. Happiness comes from within and self-pity keeps it from coming out." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 26, 1953.) People are not mediocre because they fail to do great things; they fail to do great things because they are mediocre. Humility is not self-toleration of mediocrity. It is, rather, the foundation of spiritual motivation to set worthy goals and improve oneself. Humility is not judging oneself as mediocre because of comparisons to others. Humility doesn't mean feeling low because of such comparisons.

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Confidence is half the battle, but many a man loses the other half of the battle when, with overconfidence, he stops to pat himself on the back. Self-pity is the giving up of the battle before the battle begins, by crawling in the rut of self-depreciation.

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To climb the ladder of success, one must build his own rungs of opportunity. Opportunities to serve God and one's fellowmen are necessary rungs in the ladder of spiritual success. We must climb with faith in Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. The eye of faith enables us to understand or see the way of righteousness, to "walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:8.)

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To have the Spirit of the Lord with us, we must always be moving forward on His straight and narrow path. There is no progress standing still. The straight and narrow path is a path of forward movement. We cannot move backwards on the straight and narrow path. We go backwards only when we are off the path. As we move forward and upward, achieving our righteous goals, we must take time to ponder about the blessings we have received from God and the opportunities He has given us--and then express our gratitude to Him in personal prayer. When we stray off the Lord's straight and narrow path, one of the pitfalls is the rut of self-pity. "If you lose an opportunity it is useless to advertise for it." (Great Falls Tribune, Great Falls, Mont., Sept. 18, 1935.) Some people, when losing an opportunity, advertise for it with the voice of self-pity. They waste time telling others about their lost opportunities, when they could be working and creating opportunities.

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Prayer is a time for self-inventory. Prayer provides opportunities to renew and increase our spiritual motivation and make our vision stronger. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18.) Where there is no vision, the people perish in laziness, aimlessness and despair. Where there is no vision, the people perish from a lack of righteous goals or a lack of determination to achieve worthy goals. Where there is no vision through short-range goals, the people perish from the discouragement of unrealistic goals. Faith in Christ is a power necessary in overcoming discouragement. Faith in Christ means having a vision of the glory of God, discerning what the Lord would have us do, plus spiritual courage to do His will.

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Positive mental attitude is efficient thought rolling forward on the wheel of faith. One of the roots of the word attitude means fitness. To be mentally fit is to have a positive mental attitude. Positive thinking is the exercise of mental fitness. What better way is there to exercise our faith than in prayer to God? And what better time is there to do our spiritual exercises as well as mental exercises, than when we begin a new day?

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Too many prayers are given with vagueness and not specifics. Give thanks for specific blessings and specific opportunities that God has blessed you with. If you are thankful for a particular blessing, you ought to tell God why you appreciate that blessing. True prayer takes some creative thought to be sincere, and thinking is hard work for some people. Do we speak with God in our prayers as if we were speaking to a close friend?

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Clifford Harbour wrote, "Prayer is an anchor for living. What it does for us does not count so much as what it does to us." (McNairy County Independent, Selmer, Tenn., Jan. 22, 1960.) Harbour's insight is a great one–that the greatness of prayer lies not in what it does for us, but what it does to us. What can prayer do to us in the morning? It can help us start the day climbing the ladder of spiritual success, or moving forward on the road of spiritual success. It gives us an opportunity to "look up" to God, to begin the day with a positive mental attitude inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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True prayer is a real conversation with God, and the conversation should be different each time we pray. Would we ever think of saying exactly the same things to a friend every time we saw him? But that is exactly what some of us do to God. This is no doubt one of the reasons why Christ taught, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." (Matthew 6:7.) Humble, sincere prayer is creative thought, not the vain repetitions of memorized phrases or sentences.

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Contentment is a spiritual habit that leads us into the ways of everlasting thanksgiving. Contentment is the sunshine habit–or more correctly–the Sonshine habit, the habit of centering our lives in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

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Contentment is the plant of happiness sprouting in the living waters of a pure heart.

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Do we show our manners unto God when we pray? Do we listen to Him when He speaks to us by the power of His Holy Spirit? Listening is a necessary part of a conversation in prayer, a necessity that is so frequently overlooked. If we do not listen to God when He speaks, are we guilty of rudeness before Him? In our conversation with God, do we build on His wisdom, or do we drown Him out--with our vain repetitions--so much that we cannot hear Him? Do we interrupt Him when He is speaking to us? Are we impatient with Him? Praying without patience is praying without humility.

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Acts 20:19 reads, in part, "Serving the Lord with all humility of mind." In the Book of James chapter 2 is the familiar verse, "Faith without works is dead." Faith without the works of humility is dead. What are the works of humility? The works of humility are act of service, kindness, love, compassion, benevolence and charity unto others. The greatest service is inspired by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is service done without expectation of reward or recognition for yourself. It is service done with the desire to give God and His Son Jesus Christ the glory, recognizing that unselfish service is motivated by God and Christ through the power of the Holy Ghost.

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“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2.) What is the race that is set before us? It's our earthly life, isn't it? What is the race course? It's the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. Jesus is the "author of our faith." An author is a writer. Another way of saying it is, "Jesus is the writer of our faith." A clue on the writing of our faith is found in Hebrews 10:16: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” The Lord Jesus Christ writes His laws in our minds and our heart, but He does not do this by forcing it upon us. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20.) Jesus the Christ will not force His way into our lives. We must invite Him into our lives and then He will write His laws in our hearts and minds as we are obedient to Him. It takes some effort on our part to have this blessing of Christ writing His laws in our hearts and minds. (Read Proverbs 3:1-6.) We are to do our part in writing the laws of Christ in our minds and hearts; another way to say it is that we are to write mercy and truth upon the tablet of our hearts. As we do this we will find favor and good understanding in the sight of God. We find the eternal truths of the Lord in His word. This in turn ought to increase our trust in Him whereby we acknowledge Him in all our ways and be humble so that we will be open to His direction.

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In three verses early in the book of Job, the man Job is described as "a perfect and an upright man." (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3.) Perfection and uprightness go hand in hand. "The way of the Lord is strength to the upright." (Proverbs 10:29.) Again, "As for God, his way is perfect." (2 Samuel 22:31.) The perfect way of the Lord is strength to the upright. "The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them." (Proverbs 11:3.) The integrity of the upright shall guide them on the Lord's perfect way. "Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner." (Proverbs 13:6.) Obedience to the commandments of God is what keeps us upright on the Lord's perfect pathway. "[The Lord] layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly." (Proverbs 2:7.) Wisdom is a blessing to the righteous as they walk uprightly on the Lord's pathway of perfection.

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"It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect." (Psalms 18:32.) "Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip." (Psalms 18:36.) "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart." (Psalms 101:2.) God will make our way perfect, but we must make the decision and determination to do what is right and perfect. We must commit ourselves to walk with God with a perfect heart. The old saying is, "Practice makes perfect." In a book published in 1921, which was a collection of letters written by a father to his son who was away at college, Joseph H. Appel wrote, "But practice does not make perfect unless we practice the perfect thing–try to equal the perfect thing. Practicing the imperfect thing only makes us more unskilled in doing the thing perfectly." (The Making of a Man, New York, N.Y., 1921.) God has prepared the perfect way for us to walk, but we must make the decision to practice what is perfect and then go forth and become perfect in one thing and later move on to developing perfection in another thing.

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As we walk the pathway of perfection, we must diligently and continuously study the word and will of our Father in heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. That is, if we are to continue forward on the pathway of perfection, we must study the scriptures which are directions from God and Christ who are perfect–we must study the perfect directions from they who are perfect.. They have provided the perfect guidelines and directions. Directions from God and Christ, they who are perfect, also come through prayer. The pathway of perfection is the pathway of prayer.

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"The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way; but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness." (Proverbs 11:5.) When we have become perfect in one thing, perfect in one commandment given to us by God, that perfection can direct us in the path of perfection toward working on another one of His commandments. "The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness." (Proverbs 11:6.) Perfection in one commandment of God gives us strength to resist temptations and we are delivered from the temptations. As we continue to add perfection in more commandments, our strength is increased to resist temptations. But when we backslide off the perfect way, the cliffs of wickedness are very steep ones in our fall. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." (Psalms 19:7.) As we obey a commandment of the Lord, we become converted to that commandment, and the more we live it, we progress toward perfection in it. The Lord blesses us with wisdom to do what is right, to stay on the pathway of perfection.

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Considerateness and forgiveness are fruits of kindness. They who lack kindness are faultfinders who go on stabbing others with the knives of bitterness and rudeness. They use hate as a verbal weapon.

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Richard S. Tanner wrote, "It is from out of the depths of our humility that the height of our destiny looks grandest." (Harvester, Victoria, Australia, September 1965.) It is from out of the depths of our humility that the vision of our righteous goals is clearest.

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When the subject of adversity is discussed, most people think about the adversity of health problems, the adversity of financial difficulties, the adversity of disasters such weather-related disasters or the disaster of having a home burn down, or of the frustrations coming with automobile accidents or other accidents that are in most respect beyond our control. But one type of adversity we often fail to recognize in somebody else's life is the adversity of unfulfilled spiritual or gospel objectives or the adversity of unfulfilled career goals. When we fail to recognize this type of adversity in someone else, we may fall to the temptation of criticizing him for his lack of accomplishment, rather than encouraging and helping him. Not only is it important for us to have a proper perspective and proper attitude about our own adversities, but we must also develop a proper perspective and proper attitude toward other people and their adversities.

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In a Thanksgiving Day editorial, it was written, "Thanksgiving must be a rededication to religious observance, close family ties, a sharing of problems and opportunities that will make us strong. It must recreate admiration for the past, respect for the present and determination for the future." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1962.) That is a good message to consider throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving Day. True gratitude increases the determination to improve oneself. Gratitude without a vision of self-improvement is dead. Gratitude without a desire to set righteous goals is also dead. Vision is a sign of stability of purpose in concentrating one's abilities on the goals he has set. Efficient use of one's energies, and staying on the path that leads to the fulfillment of the goals, are fruits of vision. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Man may be the architect of his own destiny, but there are many people who don't know how to draw their blueprints of determination. Many people who think they are architects fortune only make blueprints for castles in the air. And even if some people manage to make blueprints for castles in the air, they would probably forget to include a foundation in the plans. Stephen R. Covey emphasized, "Those who don't plan offer the excuse that it takes time. What they are really saying is that they are afraid to think." (Irish Challenge, Finaghy, Ireland, Sept. 15, 1963.) The day you begin to dream is the day you begin to live, but you must stay alive by planning and then working to make your dreams to come true. It signifies little to have a lot on the ball if a person doesn't get on the ball and keep his eye on the ball. Just as those who are afraid to think fail to plan the steps for fulfilling their goals, they also fail to exercise initiative.

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Hartman Rector, Jr., said, "Rationalizing means that you are lying to yourself." (The Austrian, Vienna, Austria, May 30, 1970.) And, Robert O. Torgerson wrote, "Procrastination's best friend is rationalization." (Messenger, Raratonga, Cook Islands, December 1963.) Rationalization is only another name for desperation. Rationalization is hypocrisy's method of determination. The procrastinator often spends a great deal of time trying to think of ways to explain why he didn't do something, instead of just doing his duties. And what results from this? Excuses and not reasons. "An excuse is frequently a lie in camouflage." (Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho, July 23, 1918.) Procrastination is shown in the excuses one makes to cover up his laziness.

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"Procrastination is sleeping on the highway of progress." (Zion's Ensign, Lamoni, Iowa, Sept. 12, 1912.) Procrastination is a series of leaks in the tire of progress. This flat-tire process of mentality means no forward movement, because procrastination is too lazy to change the flat tire. Even if procrastination just sits in a car with a flat tire, it is going backwards--because time is marching on and procrastination just gets farther and farther behind. Time is money, and procrastination is a bank robber. Procrastination is spiritual bankruptcy. A procrastinator is a person who won't take NOW for an answer. Procrastination is tardiness in the school of experience.

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A person's unhappiness is proportionate to his ingratitude. His ingratitude, in turn, is proportionate to his discouragement.

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"Bravery is two-thirds fortitude, and fortitude is two-thirds patience." (Zion's Herald, Boston, Mass., Sept. 28, 1904.) "Impatience may be called a desire to obtain 'something for nothing.'" (The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Mass., Dec. 31, 1912.) Fear is two-thirds discouragement, and discouragement is two-thirds impatience. Ingratitude is often characterized by an impatient desire to get something for nothing, and such an attitude usually leads to impatience with God. And if a person did manage to get something for nothing, it would only serve to put him more steps away from spirituality--because the next temptation is egotism sprouting from a false sense of accomplishment.

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Discouragement is always within reach on the arm of procrastination.

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Discouragement sinks into adversity, starves in the path of obstacles, eats on the corrupt fruits of laziness, and lies sleepless on the bed of worry. Discouragement is mental death. Discouragement is the assassinator of desire. It sometimes kills when you least expect it to.

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"Persistence paralyzes procrastination." (Carson City News, Carson City, Nev., Sept. 25, 1923.) "Procrastination is the assassin of opportunity." (Emmet Rodwell Calhoun, Louisville Times, Louisville, Ky., Jan. 14, 1905.) Persistence is the bodyguard of opportunity. This is so because persistence paralyzes the would-be assassin of opportunity.

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Walking humbly with God means having our eye of faith focused on Him as we walk with Him. Walking humbly with God means to abide in the full recognition of the love of Christ. All things work together for good to them that walk humbly with God. All things work together for good to them that work together with the love of Christ. To be filled with the love of Christ, we must feast upon the fruit of the Spirit. Man cannot live by bread alone. (See Matthew 4:4.) He must have the fruits of the Spirit plus the water of life from the fountain of living waters to make life's meal more complete. Food for thought is nourishing only when it includes the recommended daily allowances of the fruits of the Spirit.

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"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16.) Walking circumspectly before God, using the dictionary definition, means to walk with watchfulness in all directions, to watch against error and danger. Walking circumspectly before God, then, means to guard against that which is not true, and to avoid the dangers or pitfalls that would cause us to stumble off the Lord's straight and narrow path.

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Humility is the universal virtue. Humility is the great steppingstone of spiritual life.

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"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalms 119:105.) "The just man walketh in his integrity." (Proverbs 20:7.) "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (Matthew 5:7.) The word of God is a lamp of integrity in our lives. There is no integrity without mercifulness unto others, and there is no mercifulness without humility.

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There is no such thing as unrighteous humility–it is always considered a virtue. Often, self-depreciation and humiliation are misunderstood to be humility, but they are not. They are the opposite of humility.

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H.M. Whaling, Jr., wrote, "Worship is an act prompted by appreciation of God's worth." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 26, 1927.) Worship is an act prompted by gratitude for the glory of God. Worship is an act prompted by hope in His mercy. Through worship we are motivated by the Holy Spirit to rid ourselves of sin, to purge ourselves of all iniquity. As we read in Colossians 3:22, we must worship God with singleness of heart. "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be filled with light." (Matthew 6:22.) Worship is an act prompted by keeping our eye single to the glory of God. Worship might be defined as spiritual concentration. Worship of the Lord, then, is spiritual concentration upon Him and His commandments, staying focused on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.

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Admiration is an action form of love and is positive in every sense of the word. Admiration is constructive, it builds up and does not tear down. It promotes happiness through the grateful acknowledgment of others' goodness and talents. Admiration indicates self-respect, plus attitudes of kindness toward the person whose qualities or attributes you admire. Envy is a negative attitude, a desire to tear down what is envied in the other person. Admiration, in contrast, inspires a person with a positive attitude, a desire to develop those positive qualities one sees in others.

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Kirk G. Heaton wrote, "Desire is built within one's self by competition with one's past accomplishments. Desire is the result of thoughtful faith." (Thoroughbred, Louisville, Ky., May 1967.) Desire does not concentrate on one's limitations but exercises initiative to overcome the limitations. One must perfect himself by ridding himself of one limitation at a time or one weakness at a time or one faults in each mile run of the track meet of life. It takes humility before God to keep oneself competing with his past performances, and to concentrate on achieving or accomplishing his God-given potential by comparing himself to his Father in heaven. If a person only compares himself to other people all the time, he is likely to either boast with the "holier-than-thou" attitude, or criticize others through negative attitudes that are based on self-pity. Rather than wallow in self-pity's mediocrity, let us seek truth and guidance from Him who is perfect.

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Philip B. Cabell wrote, "Humility is the essential soil for which the great Sower seeks in every soul to implant the seeds of eternal truth, for without that soil there is no hope of harvest or return." (New-Church Messenger, Jan. 13, 1886.) In the Parable of the Sower, we read, "He that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:23.) Jesus Christ, the Good Sower, wants to implant the seeds of eternal truth in our hearts and minds, but He cannot force us to do the planting or to obey His laws. For He said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20.) When we come unto Christ in humility, invite Him into our lives, and follow His will, the fruits of righteousness are harvested in our lives bounteously. It is up to us to respond to the Lord after we have invited Him into our lives. Then we will experience His friendship. This is spiritual intelligence, to exercise the humble faith in a partnership with God, leading to spiritual success.

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Humility is not a sign of weakness. Reliance upon the Lord is not a weakness, but a spiritual strength. "The Lord shall be thy confidence." (Proverbs 3:26.) He who has the humility to rely upon the Lord has the faith that God will be his confidence. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6.) It is not a sign of weakness to acknowledge God as the source of all good. Rather, it is a sign of intelligence to acknowledge His hand in our lives. To become reliant upon the Lord, there must be continual prayer unto Him, for how can we rely on His Spirit if we haven't invited His Spirit to be with us?

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"And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (Matthew (23:12.) Humility is the power of exaltation. Humility is the spring of benevolence and the desire of mercy. Humility is both the preservative of love and the mirror of love. Humility is an openmindedness for goodness and truth. Humility is the trademark of teachableness. Humility is to "hunger and thirst after righteousness." (Matthew 5:6.) Humility is a desire to learn.

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Humility is the foundation of obedience. The compass of humility points to spiritual progress on the Lord's straight and narrow path. Humility strengthens one's commitment to Christ. Humility is the glorification of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, whereas pride and selfishness fail to give God and Christ the glory.

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The central feature of humility is good will–good will toward God and good will toward our fellowmen. Our good will toward God is evident in our pure love for Him and our desire to live His word, to live His commandments. Our good will toward our fellowmen is evident in our pure love for them and our desire to serve them with a pure heart, a heart devoid of selfishness, and a desire to bring happiness into their lives. Unselfishness is one of the more common fruits of humility.

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Humility is looking up to God and caring about what is right because we know He is the Giver of all good. Humility is manifest in the spirit of cooperation–cooperation with God and cooperation with other people toward the accomplishment of righteous purposes. The foundation of a peacemaker's life is the humility of appreciation and the meekness of compassion.

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When humility has a foundation in our hearts, we gain spiritual independence from the world and are free from the bondage of other people's opinions. That is, we are not in a constant state of worry over other people's opinions of us but instead seek to glorify our Father in heaven in all we do, not fearful of criticism.

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"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:10.) This is the true way of being lifted up, having the Lord Jesus Christ lift us up when we are humble in heart. When the Lord does the lifting, the person of humility does not look down on others, does not judge by appearance. "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7.) The person of humility does not look down on others, but he appreciates the virtues and talents of other people and expresses appreciation to them.

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Contentment arises from the contemplation of the fact that all good and all blessings come from God. Contentment breeds respect for self and admiration for the goodness and talents of others.

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William M. Anderson, Sr., wrote, "Covetousness consists of two elements: 1. An unreasonable desire after the things which we have not; and, 2. A dissatisfaction with the things which we have." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, March 13, 1921.) If that is what covetousness is, then the opposite, contentment, would include at least these two elements: 1. A reasonable desire after the things which we have not; and 2. A satisfaction with the things which we have. We might expand this analysis of the meaning of contentment, to further say that contentment includes at least these two elements: 1. A reasonable desire after the things which we have not, acting in all honesty and integrity toward our fellowmen; and 2. A satisfaction with the material things that we have, but not to be satisfied to the point that we become lazy or slothful in the things that matter most in life, the spiritual things, including the commandments of God, the greatest of which are to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" and "love thy neighbor as thyself." (See Matthew 22:37, 39.)

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Humility is essentially cooperative in nature. We submit our will to the will of God. When we are humble before God, it is a spirit of "Thy will be done." The humble accept the Spirit of the Lord's direction in their lives–and they follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. They have faith in the Lord's promise, "for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9.)

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It has often been said that contentment has to do with being contented with what we have but not contented with what we are. Contentment grows as we recognize our God-given talents and the God-given opportunities for the expression of those talents.

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Contentment helps produce some of the greatest happiness in our lives, because the intellectual and moral powers are used with spiritual purposes. Covetousness manufactures selfish desires that in turn can produce crimes. Contentment is shown in thanksgiving unto God for the spiritual treasures of life, recognizing that those treasures, as well as material blessings, come from the Giver of all good. But in contrast, no matter how far one goes into the bottomless pit of greed, he will never be satisfied or happy with what he has. Contentment fertilizes the seeds of positive attitudes, improves self-esteem and bolsters progress. Progress is not hindered by contentment. Rather, progress is hindered by discontent and negative attitudes.

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Ambition must be coupled with spirituality if there be honest, honorable work–and not covetousness, dishonesty and crime. Contentment is the child of gratitude and humility. Contentment, in turn, gives birth to a greater gratitude and deeper humility. Gratitude and humility, and their fruit of contentment, are qualities of spiritual character that are not contrary to progress. Discontent and self-pity go hand in hand much of the time. Self-pity is the Dead Sea of selfishness. Selfishness is the evidence of a mind in despair and the substance of the darkness of conceit. Discontent is the Dead Sea of retrogression.

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Discontent is the major food supply of the parasite of the human soul known as the green-eyed monster. Discontent, if not overcome, has a way of continually increasing the size of the green-eyed monster.

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The highest degree of contentment is worship of God and appreciation of the atonement of Jesus Christ. The atonement of Jesus Christ is a blessing that some people withhold from themselves when they are unwilling to repent of their sins.

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"By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:24-25.) The pleasures of sin are never happiness. The pleasures of sin are deceptive, making us believe we are happy. But the pleasures of sin are momentary; they are never enduring happiness.

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The Savior Jesus Christ is the author and composer of the song of redeeming love. We sing His song of redeeming love in our lives through faith in Him, repentance, and obedience to His commandments.

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Obedience is focusing our spiritual eyes so that they are single to the glory of God. An eye single to the glory of God keeps our spiritual eyes focused on the straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life, so that we do not lose our way.

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Obedience is essentially humble submission to God, knowing that all He does is for our good and also knowing that His commandments are given for our good and for our spiritual progress.

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Obedience is self-discipline plus spirituality. The greatest self-discipline is built upon a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ.

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The river of righteousness flows in the valley of obedience. The steadfastness and firmness of the valley of obedience keeps the river of righteousness staying in its course. The river of righteousness does not flow backwards. The river of righteousness is fed by the daily tributaries of righteousness. Without the daily tributaries of righteousness, the river of righteousness will run dry. No tributaries will flow from the mountains of disobedience.

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An important part of the process of repentance is the revelation of reevaluation. When the Holy Spirit reveals to us that we are doing something in violation of the laws and commandments of God, repentance will come about when we accept this as a revelation for reevaluation–when we reevaluate where we are going in our lives–followed by the decision to carry for this reevaluation toward a harmony with God's laws and commandments. By so doing we become worthy to have the Lord's Spirit be with us constantly or continually.

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The most grateful people are the most generous people.

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Being grateful for the blessings of the past does not mean living in the past. Living in the past is something else, as Earl W. Harmer pointed out: "Discouragement is nourished always by past events, by living in the yesterdays." (Some Suggestions for Latter-day Saint Missionaries, Salt Lake City, Utah, date of publication not given.) Living in the past means concentrating so much on the past, that we fail to use our present time in constructive ways. Omer S. Thomas wrote, "Gratitude for past blessings can best be shown by making them live in the present in a growing and enlarging way." (The Herald of Gospel Liberty, Portsmouth, N.H., Nov. 27, 1924.) Living in the past often means thinking of negative experiences of the past–things that will remain negative as long as we fail to make today better than the past, as long as we fail to make our past blessings "live in the present in a growing and enlarging way."

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Gratitude is a member of the family of humility, love, happiness and spirituality. The humble are thankful in the comprehension of the greatness of God. Those filled with love are thankful in the comprehension of the kindness shown unto them by others. Those who are filled with happiness are thankful in the comprehension of all their blessings.

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William T. Tew, Jr., wrote, "Ingratitude is a sin of omission, of thoughtlessness, of cold indifference, one that cuts deeply into the finer senses of one's bet one that injures, almost irreparable, both parties involved. It is a black cloud that comes across the horizon of our hopes and aspirations; it has no silver lining. Its opposite, gratitude, is the sweetest flower that grows in the garden of human virtues, disseminating its fragrant perfume into the atmosphere that is breathed by all with whom we come in contact." (East Central States Mission Bulletin, Louisville, Ky., November 1938.) Ingratitude is a sin of procrastination, and procrastination is a sin of omission. Emmet Rodwell Calhoun wrote, "Sins of omission are the blow holes in the armor of religious character that sooner or later the devil will discover." (Louisville Herald, Louisville, Ky., April 29, 1905.) One sin of omission leads to another sin of omission. Procrastination, excuses and ingratitude feed on each other, eating away at the armor of religious character and destroying the conscience.

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He who is ungrateful to God for blessings received will also be ungrateful for the opportunities given to him by God. Gratitude is the vision to see the hand of God in opportunities that led to our successes in life. He who is ungrateful for such opportunities will undoubtedly lose them, or he will misuse those opportunities. He may even lose the blessings that come through those opportunities. The man who takes his blessings for granted may also become blind to opportunities for growth and development, and as the opportunities wither and die. Ingratitude is a sin of procrastination.

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An ungrateful heart is the beginning of mediocrity. It is based on pride or egotism. It is the foundation for such sins and weaknesses as prayerlessness, fear, discouragement, selfishness and self-pity.

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Whenever our blessings in life are not being used in an attitude of gratitude and in constructive purposes, they are likely to be transferred into evil actions based on ingratitude. When we give in to the evil habits of profanity, intolerance, prejudice, criticism and other misery-producing acts, it becomes more and more of a chore to give thanks unto the Lord and to others--that is, to express sincere, humble gratitude. And if we do give thanks, it tends to be more of a duty, rather than an act of sincerity with a song in our hearts. Thanksgiving spoken without sincerity is dead.

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Ingratitude is discontent based on greed, and greed is often evident in the negative attitude of complaining. Complaining is discontent in action. Ingratitude is a state of mind in which a person actually complains about his blessings. Whenever we are tempted to complain, let us stop and ask ourselves, "Am I complaining about my blessings?"

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Gratitude is a sign of honesty toward God. Through thanksgiving we "redound to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 4:15.) An obsolete definition of redound is: "to surge or flow back." Thanksgiving, then, leads to surging back into the glory of God, and that is impossible without being honest before God.

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Gratitude is the power by which one is prompted to declare thanksgiving immediately for blessings received. Ingratitude is the procrastination that turns into forgetfulness. The longer that a person procrastinates the expression of gratitude for a blessing, the more he takes that blessing for granted, and then he will most likely take other blessings for granted. He who takes his blessings for granted is likely to develop the attitude that he gained the blessings entirely on his own power. As a result, he fails to honor God, the source of all good and the Giver of all our blessings.

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True gratitude means to "abundantly utter the memory of [the Lord's] goodness." (Psalms 145:7.) He who cannot stir up the memory of what the Lord has done for him is spiritually dead indeed. Gratitude is a stream of remembrance of the Lord's mercies.

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Ingratitude is synonymous with pride or egotism, because the egotistical man lacks the spiritual vision necessary to see and appreciate the immeasurable contributions others have made in his life, but more importantly, the blessings God has given him. Egotism is more often the boasting about something one is not, than something he actually is.

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God-given talents carry with them a responsibility to use them in blessing the lives of others. Blessings from God, including talents, are not given for selfish reasons or selfish purposes. If a man thinks he can use blessings from God entirely for selfish purposes, he will only experience continuous misery in their use and will find that the talents will be buried in selfishness.

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Talents used without humility and spirituality are likely to be used for destructive and not constructive purposes. Again, when a person's life is based on selfish or destructive purposes, the burying of his talents occurs. He who buries his talents is actually burying his future. Burying your talents in the ground is a kind of buried treasure that is hard to dig back up again. In fact, buried talents are taken away because of sloth, according to the parable of the talents (see Matthew 25:14-30). The man who was given one talent buried it in the ground. He is called a "wicked and slothful servant." At the end of the parable we read: "Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 25:28-30.)

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Burying talents is the opposite of laying up treasures in heaven. "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." (Matthew 6:20.) God-given talents are indicators of what He expects of us and what he desires us to accomplish in our lives.

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Gratitude is the attitude of recognizing when someone has helped us or assisted us–and then in turn giving our thanks privately or publicly. When we suppress our thanksgiving or hold it back, we tend to forget the Giver of all good and also the people He utilizes as His servants to bless us. His servants who bless us can be just about anybody who crosses our path, even somebody we would consider to be a stranger in our lives.

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True gratitude is a recognition of the interdependence of man. No matter what success we experience in life, we can always, in the sincerity of our hearts, think of someone who has helped us--in addition to the blessings from God. Even if someone does something as simple as expressing sincere words of encouragement or direction, we have received some help or assistance. Think for a moment about the volleyball player, who cannot spike the ball of his own set--a teammate must set up the ball to him. God is the Great Setter in the game of life, blessing us with opportunities to score points–points that are recorded in the Book of Life--the Storybook of the Game of Life. He who thinks or boasts that he always accomplishes everything in his game of life all by himself is blind to the good of others and also blind to the blessings from God.

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Paraphrasing a Thanksgiving Day editorial, "Thanksgiving Day is a day for perspective, for putting into perspective our accomplishments." (Dallas Times Herald, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 23, 1972 ) Prayer is a time each day when we ought to put into perspective our accomplishments, to have humility before God–a spirit of humility in which one recognizes that he does not accomplish everything in his life on his own. He recognizes the hand of God in his achievement, recognizing that God blessed him with opportunities that were steps toward the accomplishments.

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Hope is the beacon light that shines by the power of the love of God. Faith is the substance out of which pure desires become works of righteousness, including acts of kindness and unselfish service unto others.

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On every calendar, there is one day in November which is referred to as Thanksgiving Day. But on our calendars, we ought to write the words, Thanksgiving Morning, on every day of the calendar. Each morning of the year ought to be a Thanksgiving Morning. "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." (Psalms 5:3.) "And to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even." (1 Chronicles 23:30.)

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It has been noted, "The word thank is said to be the old form of the past tense of the verb to think." (The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Mass, Dec. 13, 1912.) Ingratitude means that one is too lazy to think about his blessings, too lazy to count his blessings. Ingratitude is spiritual laziness, because it knows not the spiritual mathematics necessary to count its blessings.

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"Thanksgiving Day is the day we harvest the memories of the heart." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 24, 1966.) Gratitude does not mean to cease being thankful for the blessings of the past. Gratitude is the spiritual power by which we halest the memories of the blessings of the past, and such a harvest ought to be a daily harvest. "Gratitude for past blessings will sweeten the engagement of present mercies." (Western Virginia Methodist Advocate, Sutton, WVA., April 20, 1904.) In times of discouragement, we tend to forget the Lord our God, and sometimes we even think that He has stopped blessing us. If we were to analyze our daily lives closely, we would find it hard to justify such an attitude, because there is so much around us that is an evidence of the hand of God.

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"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works." (Psalms 26:7.) We publish the works of God with the voice of thanksgiving. We testify of the Lord's blessings with the voice of thanksgiving. "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving." (Psalms 69:30.) Through the power of gratitude, we magnify God in our lives. That is, through thanksgiving, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ become bigger and bigger in our lives. We will thus begin each day of our lives by pouring out our heart in prayers of thanksgiving for all that God and Christ have done and continue to do in our lives.

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Gratitude is thanksgiving unsuppressed. Sometimes it takes courage to express our gratitude for our blessings because of the temptation to think we "earned" the blessings–blessings which actually come from God. It also takes courage to express our gratitude when we are tempted to think that we "deserved" to receive something from another person.

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"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20.) "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name." (Psalms 100:4.) Here is a paradox. The Savior Jesus Christ comes into our lives when we open the door and invite Him into our lives. As we open the door of our hearts to Jesus, He in turn opens His gates to us. By faith we open the door of our hearts to Christ, and with thanksgiving we enter into His gates.

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Self-discipline is developed by concentrating on realistic goals with high standards. Goals with high standards must be made with a desire to develop God-given talents in constructive ways. Remember also, according to the parable of the talents, the development of talents and the use of talents in Christlike ways will mean the blessing of more talents in one's life. The exercise of our self-discipline in the prevention of self-inflicted adversity will save us a great deal of waste in time and energy.

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Perhaps the most important key in overcoming adversity or enduring adversity is to exercise faith in Jesus Christ by remembering His example, His teachings and most importantly, His sufferings and His atonement. Remembering His sufferings, particularly His sufferings for us, gives us the courage and strength we need in times of adversity. He truly understands what we are going through and He will help us understand our adversity and not grow weak in faith, as long as we do not forget to invite Him to be with us and give us the strength to endure. When we are suffering in an adversity, we need the strength from Jesus to resist temptations that would weaken our faith in Him. We will not overcome adversity if we travel to the spiritual graveyard of self-pity and remain there.

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To overcome or to endure a specific adversity we may be going through, we must first determine if the adversity has to do with something within our control or beyond our control. If the adversity is within our control, it is up to us to take steps to solve problems that cause such adversity. If the adversity is something beyond our control, it is up to us to gain the proper perspective and develop the proper attitude toward such adversity.

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Gratitude to God is a power which can help us to endure an adversity. "O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalms 107:1.) When we express our gratitude or thanksgiving to the Lord, we are blessed with greater spiritual strength. But when we have negative attitudes, including attitudes of complaining, we do not gain the spiritual strength needed during our adversity. We must not have an attitude of bitterness toward the Lord because of our adversity, but we must remember that He has promised that He will help us and give us strength to endure our adversity.

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"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20.) "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings." (Philippians 3:10.) During times of adversity we must not forget to invite the Lord Jesus Christ to be with us. Not only it is important during adversity as well as in times of success to have fellowship with Jesus Christ, but also it is important to have "the fellowship of [Christ's] sufferings." Jesus was "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." (Hebrews 4:15.) "For in that he himself hath suffering being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." (Hebrews 2:18.) Because Jesus has suffered for us, He is filled with compassion toward us in our adversity. We must invite Him to be with us in our adversity, whereby we can be touched and comforted through the power of His compassion.

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"Trouble is the most thorough teacher in the school of experience." (Wheeling Intelligencer, Wheeling, W.Va., Jan. 15, 1910.) Adversity, as it is commonly pointed out, is a teacher of self-discipline and also patience. Discipline means we have to endure much that we would rather not go through, in order to make some progress in our lives, in order to take steps toward accomplishing righteous or worthy objectives. We learn self-discipline, it is true, when we handle our adversity in a positive, constructive manner. But another type of self-discipline is necessary to prevent self-inflicted adversity. Many people bring on their own tribulations through laziness, procrastination and indecision.

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Self-control is spiritual strength going to war against sin with the whole armor of God.

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Self-respect is a series of spiritually toned ideals that range about one central ideal, faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ, embedded in one's consciousness, has the power to beautify one's thoughts with the love of God. Self-respect is a creative, divine energy that builds friendship. Without the love of God in a pure heart, self-respect is impossible to develop.

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Self-respect is a beautiful flower in the garden of life that must be maintained with the fertilizer of self-reliance.

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Duncan M. Smith wrote, "Sometimes we get so busy feeling sorry for ourselves that we forget what our troubles are." (Morgantown Daily Post, Morgantown, W. Va., April 25, 1906.) He who is filled with self-pity often doesn't even realize what his real problems are. Self-pity sometimes is the exaggeration of the size of one's problems, but more often it is the exaggeration of imaginary problems. Self-pity shrinks our faith in God and thus destroys our confidence to solve our real problems through His comfort and guidance.

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Self-respect is self-defense in the form of high moral standards. Self-respect empowers one in the establishment of self-direction, coupled with Christ-direction in the spiritual life. Self-respect is an inward sense of duty to God, a feeling of worthiness in His sight, knowing that we are His children.

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Self-respect is the opposite of an inferiority complex, and self-pity is a companion of the inferiority complex. Work is the ground in which self-respect grows. The soil is humble faith in Christ. Persistent, loving service is the way of the harvest that leads to laying up treasures in heaven. Self-pity cannot lay up treasures in heaven because it has no energy to plant or harvest the crop of the fruits of self-respect.

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Self-respect includes the heart to "fight the good fight of faith." (1 Timothy 6:12.) Self-respect enlarges one's courage in meeting trials and tribulations, with the attitude described in Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Self-respect builds initiative. Based on faith in Christ, it gives one the courage to make decisions in righteousness, and to exercise the initiative that brings positive results.

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Humility is the power that leads one straight into self-respect. Self-respect is a feeling of humble worthiness before God, self-confidence plus hope. Happiness is built from within, and self-respect keeps it flowing. Self-respect is the art of realizing and appreciating one's spiritual happiness. He who has courage to do good unto others is he who has self-respect founded on humility. His outlook on life is founded on God-given inspiration, blessing him with the eye of faith to see the good in others and discern what he can do to bless them and strengthen them. Self-respect concentrates one's thoughts on loving his fellowmen, leading to Godly service and pure expressions of love. Self-respect breeds a sincere desire to be merciful unto others.

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"Self-respect and self-appreciation are closely allied." (Alva Adams, quoted in Improvement Era, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 1910.) Self-respect and gratitude to God are also closely allied. Self-respect propels one to measure up to his responsibilities in life, to live up to his God-given potential. Self-respect includes an acceptance of the values and purposes in one's hardships and trials. Self-respect recognizes God's power, wisdom and goodness. It strengthens righteous ambitions, gives birth to noble goals, and builds the spirituality of the personality. Self-respect is synonymous with personality construction. Self-respect is a necessary factor in making a person good-humored, cheerful and spiritually balanced.

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Self-respect is the synonym for self-help. The person filled with self-respect can maintain a strong sympathy for others because he does not focus his sympathy on himself. Thus he not only helps others, but he helps himself grow spiritually.

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Self-respect opens the soul to the vision of God's mercies freely offered anew each day. Self-respect is a proper perspective on one's own experiences and his accomplishments. Self-respect is a builder of stepping stones, whereas self-pity builds walls of despair.

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Self-pity is the quicksand of vice. Self-pity is the worst garment with which a man can clothe himself, the most downgrading feeling with which the mind can be muddied.

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Envy is the prison of arrogance and bitterness. This feeling of envy, of being bitter toward the successes of other people, is one of the greatest sins of mankind. From it comes a continuous stream of unhappiness. It is an explosion of ugly egotism. When we constantly look down on others with envy instead of looking up with appreciative admiration, we only knock ourselves down deeper and deeper into sin. We fail to recognize and understand our own strengths and thus fail to use them to their capacity for good in our own lives.

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"Prayer is creative thought raised to its highest power." (Jacob Coopman, Cumorah's Southern Messenger, Mowbray, South Africa, October 1959.) "Prayer is the universal privilege." (H.W. Lewis, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, March 11, 1918.) "Prayer is the Christian's greatest talent." (James Alexander McClure, St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla., Nov. 7, 1927.) True prayer includes creativity in our self-inventory. True prayer should be a creative talent in our lives. It is a privilege and honor to have a self-inventory with the Lord in prayer, for He loves us and He will give us uncomplicated answers as we listen to Him with faith. True prayer should be a conversation with the Lord. When prayer is a self-inventory, with humility before God, our soul hungers to do what is right. We cry unto God in mighty prayer, diligently seeking Him with all our heart, might, mind and strength. "They cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way." (Psalms 107:6-7.) We show our sincerity before God when we ask in faith for what is good and what is right, for what is pure and righteous in His sight.

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"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16.) Effectual means "producing or having adequate power to produce an intended effect." Fervent means "moved by or showing great warmth or intensity, as of emotion or enthusiasm." And avail means "to assist or aid; profit." "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." In other words, the effectual, fervent prayer is a prayer of great faith in Jesus Christ, faith that motivates us to do what is right, faith that our righteous desires will be fulfilled. The effectual fervent prayer of righteousness brings blessings of spiritual progress.

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Hugh B. Brown said, "Sincere prayer should imply a willingness to cooperate with God." (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 15, 1947.) Cooperate means to work together for a common purpose. Do we work together with God, obeying His commandments which He has given us for our good, while working to achieve our goals--those goals we outlined to Him in our prayers? Do we desire to have the purposes of God fulfilled in our lives?

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"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." (Luke 18:1.) Faint means "to fail in courage or hope; without enthusiasm, purpose, or energy." Prayer, then, is the means by which we maintain courage or hope, the way to maintain a sense of spiritual purpose in our lives and the channel to receive energy to fulfill the purposes of God and to achieve our righteous goals.

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Wesley S. Izzard wrote, "Prayer is practical. It can and should be a part of everyday life. We carry our spiritual closet wherever we go, and we can slip into it any time, and shut the door, and there humbly and quietly seek and find the guidance we need." (Amarillo Daily News, Amarillo, Texas, March 4, 1960.) The spiritual habit of praying without ceasing, starting each morning with a prayer of gratitude for success before we experience it, is a great power in our lives when we discover it. Prayer is a great power for us when we accept God as our Friend and treat Him as a true Friend in our prayers. If we are not praying always, either vocally or silently, can we expect to receive revelation from God in our personal lives? Prayer and revelation are the two sides of communication with Deity–we must pray in humility and love and thanksgiving, and then we must be in tune to receive answers to our prayer, to recognize the still small voice speaking to us. Let us carry our spiritual closet with us and go into it often each day.

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"Endurance is truly a virtue of the strong, for it is the will to win combined with the power to conquer." (Trumpet, Rome, Italy, January 1973.) Endurance is the will to press forward on the road of spiritual success, on the Lord's straight and narrow path, coupled with the power to conquer the forces that go in opposition to the power of the love of God, including impatience, self-pity, selfishness and intolerance.

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Through repentance we take responsibility for our actions which are in violation of the commandments of God. We then, in turn, do all that the Lord Jesus Christ requires in the repentance process, turning away from those sins and seeking the Lord's blessing in replacing sins and bad habits with righteous virtues and good habits.

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One day when typing the word changing in a computer file, I noticed immediately when I had typed it in with this misspelling: chainging. The correct spelling and the wrong spelling can be used to illustrate how life has its opposites. We are either changing or we are chainging. That is, we are either repenting of our sins and seeking to correct our mistakes, or we are putting chains around us, one after another. Rebelling against change or resisting repentance result in one heavy chain after another being put on us–by ourselves –and these unnecessary burdens become heavier and heavier to carry, sinking us in the quicksand of depression. This prevents us from climbing to the mountaintop of the glory of God. Remember: We are either changing or chainging.

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Self-acceptance is the core of humility in repentance. Accept yourself in your improved spiritual condition. This same principle applies to the forgiving of others. The acceptance of others in their repentance is the core of humility in the forgiveness of others. To accept them in their repentant state is to forget the sins they have repented of.

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"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation." (2 Corinthians 7:10.) "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4.) "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26.) Blessed are they who have a godly sorrow for their sins, for they shall be comforted by the power of the Holy Ghost. Let us analyze what godly sorrow is not. Godly sorrow is not the sorrow of having been caught in sin. Godly sorrow is not the sorrow of having been "caught in the act." Godly sorrow for sin is not feeling sorrow for sin because of being arrested for violating the laws of the land.

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Repentance is the key that unlocks the handcuffs of sin and bad habits.

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Charles Stelzle said, "Most men are sorry not because they have sinned, but because of the result of their sin. Some men are trying to get rid of sins. They will never succeed until they conquer sin. We are punished not so much for our sin as by our sin." (New York Observer, New York, N.Y., April 18, 1907.) True repentance is much more than just saying, "I'm sorry," because godly sorrow worketh restitution. Christ suffered for our sins, but that does not mean that there is no sorrow on our part in true repentance. If saying, "I'm sorry," was all there was to repentance, then the dishonest and deceptive hypocrite would have a means by which he could claim he was sorry when he actually was not, and would not have to do anything else.

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He who has a godly sorrow for his sins is blessed because he is motivated by the power of the Holy Ghost to do away with his sin, to not return to it. By viewing sin as God views it, he is comforted by the Comforter in knowing that he has repented of his sins in the right and proper way. Sometimes, even when we have repented of our sins and know by the power of the Holy Ghost that God has forgiven us, we carry on our remorse for those sins. All this does is let those sins continue to make us miserable.

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Charity "thinketh no evil." (1 Corinthians 13:5.) Charity thinks not of the evil that someone else has repented of. Charity includes the warmth of forgiveness. Charity also "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." (1 Corinthians 13:6.) Charity rejoices not in the iniquity of others. Charity rejoices not in seeing others fall in iniquity. Charity rejoices not in the past iniquities of others.

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James A. Cullimore wrote, "Because of a lack of understanding of a principle of repentance, some hinder themselves. This principle is self-acceptance. If we have a 'past' we have repented of, a part of this repentance is to forgive yourself. To accept yourself in your repentance is to forgive yourself. To accept yourself in your repentant state is to forget the problems you have repented of." (Messenger of Glory, Sutton Coldfield, England, Jan. 13, 1963.) We must accept ourselves in our repentance, and go on in life without carrying on a remorse for sins we have already repented of. Forgive yourself after you know that the Lord has forgiven you. Forget the sins you have repented of. Express gratitude unto the Lord in prayer for the comforting power of the Comforter. This is one of the great blessings of repentance, that we do not have to carry on the memory of the sins we have repented of. Remember that the Lord promises that He will remember no more the sins we have repented of. "Thus saith the Lord, I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:34.) And since the Lord will remember those sins no more, it is foolish for us to allow sins we have repented of to continue to make us miserable. We must accept ourselves in our new and improved spiritual condition.

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Our procrastinations are the jail cell bars that we build into the walls of our difficulties. Rationalization is the jail cell door that prevents a person from getting out of the self-imposed jail sentence of procrastination. Repentance of sins of omission is the key to unlock the jail cell door of rationalization.

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It has been said that we should not make or carry "frozen evaluations" on other people. True and complete forgiveness of others is impossible with frozen evaluations, which indicate that one has not done the forgetting part of the "forgive and forget" doctrine. When we continue to carry frozen evaluations on a person long after he has repented of his sins or dishonesty, we have not accepted him in his new spiritual condition. Frozen evaluations may turn into character assassination, when unforgiveness breeds gossip. When we make and carry frozen evaluations on a person, we are denying him the opportunity for a new life after the repentance of his sins. Gossip and slander against him because of his past shows our unwillingness to accept him. This also shows an unbelief on our part that he could improve himself. Carrying frozen evaluations is often connected with the carrying of grudges.

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The Apostle Peter wrote about "having your conversation honest." (1 Peter 2:12.) Gossip is dishonest conversation. There are those who will say, "If what I say is true, it's not gossip." But just because something is true doesn't mean that the gossip is not a violation of the laws of God. How do we know if a person has or has not repented of a sin which is the focus of our gossip? What if it is a sin that the person has not committed, and we still gossip or repeat some gossip? The Apostle Paul wrote about "speaking the truth in love." (Ephesians 4:15.) This counsel came right after he wrote about teaching the truth, to be not "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." (Ephesians 4:14.) Paul's counsel can be applied to gossip and gossipers. Gossipers lie in wait to deceive other people about those they are tearing down in their gossip. If a gossiper claims he is telling the truth, he is not "speaking the truth in love." Rather, he is speaking the truth in hate, he is speaking the truth in jealousy, or he is speaking the truth in covetousness. He is doing so with the intent to deceive, with the intent to tear down somebody else. No gossip of any kind can ever be classified as "speaking the truth in love."

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Gossips are termites chopping at the foundations of other people's reputations and character.

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Gossip is a means by which people voice their unrighteous anger, anger that is most likely based on the bitterness of covetousness, hate or jealousy. No gossip of any kind can ever be classified as righteous anger. All gossip is unrighteous. There is no such thing as righteous gossip.

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A gossip thinks he knows the past, and may even think he can see into the future, of those he talks about, but his crystal ball is merely an empty head.

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Gossip is stupidity's cover up. One man's gossip is a train of thought made up of box cars that switch tracks frequently, taking on more and more substance in the trains of thought of other people, who think they know something that someone else did not know.

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Gossip is the echo of jealousy.

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Gossip is a sign of the lack of wisdom to use one's time for constructive purposes. Gossip is the fruit of an idle mind filled with the darkness of covetousness, hate and jealousy. It takes no mental work to speak evil of someone else. He who gossips habitually is a person who has little wisdom or motivation to do good unto others, for the love of God will not dwell in a heart in which the sin of gossip dwells.

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A gossiper is a faultfinder–a finder of imaginary faults. People never complain about overwork in finding fault with others. But if they worked as hard to find their own faults, they in turn would try so much to hide their own faults, that they wouldn't have any time to find those of others. A faultfinder does not do much about his own faults.

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B. Davis Evans wrote, "When you feel like gossiping, pray. If all of us would embrace those words of wisdom, one heck of a lot of praying would be going on, and an army of human beings would be spared from being nailed to the wall by the evil spikes of vicious tongues." (Spanish Fork Press, Spanish Fork, Utah, April 6, 1977.) When you feel like gossiping, count your blessings. When you feel like gossiping, say a prayer of gratitude to God for the virtues and talents of others.

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"The tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity." (James 3:5-6.) The tongue is a little member in a belittling person. The tongue of the gossip takes a little thing about someone else and blows it out of proportion with the fires of iniquity. Or, to use a phrase from Jeremiah 3:17, the tongues of the gossipers kindle the "imagination of their evil heart," destroying the reputations of other people by firing out lies or falsehoods about them.

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"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44.) Bless them that tell falsehoods about you, do good to them that slander you, and pray for them which despitefully gossip about you. Rather than to attempt to defend against gossip, it is better to have a silent tongue concerning the gossip coming from other tongues. It is better to live one's life on a foundation of integrity and good character. Leave the attention seeking to the gossipers. The gossipers, with their inferiority complexes, seek attention to cover up their own sins and failings. It is better to control one's tongue by having purity going into one's heart first, whereby pure thoughts proceed out of the spiritual abundance of the heart. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Matthew 12:34.) Just watching one's words, without filling the heart with purity, could result in what has been called the swallowing of one's words. However, the swallowing of one's evil thoughts does not get rid of the thoughts. Rather, it gives a place for those evil thoughts to dwell before they might go out of the mouth.

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"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth evil fruit." (Matthew 7:17.) A filthy fountain cannot bring forth pure water. And he who constantly fills his heart and mind with evil thoughts or impure ideas cannot expect his tongue to utter words of good or purity--especially if he is prone to the temptation to gossip or the weakness of losing his temper.

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Gossip certainly must be included in what Christ spoke of when He said, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." (Matthew 12:36.) Gossip is also part of the "foolish talking" that the Apostle Paul wrote about. (See Ephesians 5:4.) Gossip is definitely idle words, because he who gossips is wasting his time in a non-constructive activity. There is not one molecule of intelligence in gossiping. Gossip is always an evidence of idleness on the part of the slanderers. Gossip is just an effort of a person to appear intelligent while hiding his ignorance.

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Gossip is speaking "great swelling words of vanity." (See 2 Peter 2:18.) The gossiper swells up his vanity by making up falsehoods about other people. Pride goes hand in hand with hate, and gossip is sprouted from pride and hate. Humility, however, goes hand in hand with love, and humility and love waste no energy and time in gossiping or defending against gossip. Humility and love simply let actions of integrity and good character speak for themselves. Humility believes that in the eyes of God, the slanderers are only hurting themselves.

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There is no such thing as happiness based on causing misery in the lives of others. An old proverb states, "Happiness is a perfume that one cannot shed over others without a few drops falling on oneself." (Punch, London, England, Oct. 11, 1856.) Gloom is a tear gas you cannot spray on others without getting some of it into your own system.

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The Beatitude, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy," literally means that mercifulness from the Lord is not possible without mercifulness shown by us toward our fellowmen. Mercy flows into the heart of man only when he shows mercy unto his fellowmen. This is why mercy is an active virtue, and not a passive virtue. When we receive mercy from God, we must in turn bring that mercy to others. We must continue to show mercy. William M. Anderson, Jr., said, "Mercy is the heart of God toward us in Christ." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 20, 1923.) Receiving mercy from God one time as a result of being merciful to others is not the end of what is to be done to live the true spiritual life. "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:20.) Faith without continuing mercy is dead; or faith without a continually flowing stream of mercy is dead. And continuous mercy flows into a heart only when there is a continuing flow of mercy out of the heart in acts of unselfish service to others.

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Mercy does not render harsh judgments upon someone because he does not understand; rather, mercy exercises compassion which recognizes a person's lack of understanding and will do what can be done to help that person gain understanding. Mercy implies that we have overcome selfish attitudes of jealousy, grudges, faultfinding, criticism, retaliation and revenge. Being merciful, with the Holy Spirit guiding us, can touch the hearts of others, that they may also have a desire to be merciful. Retaliation and revenge only bring about more contention and revenge. Mercy, however, is a reciprocating power in its truest sense, as people strive to work together in love and peace, because a consistent stream of mercy is flowing between them. Mercifulness is the godliness of brotherly kindness in action. Charity forgiveth always, and is merciful.

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Henry F. Cope wrote, "The fruits of sacrifice become the roots of love." (Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Oct. 22, 1905.) The fruits of self-sacrifice become the roots of love for others, rising up from the soil of a contrite heart. The sunshine of God's love and the living waters from the fountain of Christ spur on the growth of "the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord." (Isaiah 61:3.) Such spiritual growth will not come when selfishness is in the heart.

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Henry F. Cope wrote, "Love that can be measured is never worth measuring." (Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Feb. 19, 1905.) He who tries to measure his service or love for others is only engaged in some self-indulgence that rusts away the spirituality he may have been blessed with. He who thinks constantly to himself, or says to others, "Look what I've done," is forgetting the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the source of all good, the source of all spiritual motivation. The mathematics of spirituality cannot be put into the numbers of man. How can we ever measure all that God has done for us? How can we ever begin to measure the love of Christ? Rather than try to measure our own love for others, let us ponder frequently on the love of Christ, "which passeth knowledge" (see Ephesians 3:19), and also contemplate on the peace of God, "which passeth all understanding" (see Philippians 4:7). Such pondering can help lead to a greater reverence for the Lord.

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"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (Matthew 5:7.) Mercy from God is a blessing that does not go into a stagnant pool. One must be merciful continually if he is to experience the fountain of living waters in his life. Remember, it is the "fountain of living waters" (see Jeremiah 2:13, 7:13), not the reservoir of living waters. Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:38.) Exercising faith in Christ, praying with faith unto Him and counting our blessings will inspire us with the spiritual motivation to irrigate the lives of others with the living waters that come from the fountain of the Life of the world, Jesus the Christ. We must not forget the hand of God in our blessings, and we must remember that we do not accomplish everything in life entirely on our own power or entirely on our own wisdom, "for none of us liveth to himself." (Romans 14:7.)

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It has been said that before we do something in our lives, especially before we do something to someone else, to ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" Another question to ask ourselves is, "If I do this, will it bring happiness and joy into the lives of other people?" If we would always ask ourselves these two questions, we will grow in the power of self-control which will help us when we are on the verge of losing our temper or when we are tempted to gossip about somebody else or criticize somebody else. "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32.)

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Selfishness is the darkness in which vice grows.

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The greatest service, which is inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit, is service done without expectation of reward or recognition. It is service done with the desire to give God and His Son Jesus Christ the glory, remembering that unselfish service is motivated by God and Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of the most wonderful acts of service are those which are done when prompted by the Holy Spirit in a moment when we may not have even been thinking about a particular person or family.

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Self-centered people have their eyes turned inside out.

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Jesus said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40.) A friend of mine, David L. Wood, expressed this profound paraphrase of this verse of scripture: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it for me." When we serve our fellowmen with the pure love of Christ, we are doing it for Christ. When we do the works of Christ for other people, we are doing it for Him.

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"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26.) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own family?

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"The word covet connotes such a degree of selfish desire as would make one's peace and happiness depend on the possession of something, material or materially mental, which appears to be the possession of someone else." (The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Mass., Dec. 18, 1911.) Covetousness is usually thought to refer only to material possessions, but it also refers to mental possessions--talents. He who covets somebody else's mental possessions is bitter toward that person because of the talents, knowledge, abilities or even the spirituality and happiness possessed by the other person. Part of covetousness is an inferiority complex aroused by hating other people because of their talents. Covetousness breeds pessimism, and a pessimist is a person who sees only a dark side in other people's successes. One modern version of the tenth of the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not covet" (Exodus 20:17) could very well be: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's talents."

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By appreciating the talents of other people, we may have joy in experiencing some talents we do not have ourselves. Appreciating other people's talents can also serve to motivate us to develop our own talents, and to seek out people who have the talents we desire to develop--to receive instruction and encouragement from them. Coveting other people's talents leads to the depreciation and eventual loss of one's own talents because of idleness.

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Covetousness is hate in its idle shop.

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Humility is the preservative of unselfishness. In contrast, selfishness is the bondage of imperfection.

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Selfishness is the mainspring of misery, and hate is the key that winds it up.

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Charles L. Cockerel wrote, "Thanksgiving quells repining, allays anxiety, deepens our patience, and strengthens Christian endurance." (Garland News, Garland, Texas, Nov. 22, 1946.)

"Charity endure all things." (1 Corinthians 13:7.) The way to meet the tide of adversity is through patience plus gratitude. Ingratitude will only breed impatience. Even when we overcome adversity and also disappointments suffered, a lack of gratitude to God will leave open a wide gap for the disappointments to return in a magnified form that darkens and fogs up our spiritual outlook. Gratitude closes such a gap, for it increases spiritual light, particularly the light of the love of God. Patience, love and spiritual endurance are intertwined. Meeting adversity with patience and gratitude strengthens our self-control, the quality of balance, restraint and direction to maintain our obedience to God and not fall in future times of temptation, tribulation and troubles.

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"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." (1 Corinthians 14:33.) God is the author of peace. An author is a writer. God is the writer of peace. If God is the author of peace, then the followers of Jesus Christ must be instruments in His hand whereby God can write peace in the lives of those around us. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" (Isaiah 52:7.) The Author of Peace not only writes peace in our own hearts but we are instruments in His hands for the publishing of peace in the hearts of others.

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"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." (Colossians 3:7.) A paraphrase of this verse of scripture gives added insight: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the love of the Lord Jesus, testifying of Him and the Father through your words and deeds."

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Spiritual joy does not mean that one is always looking to experience happiness in the future, and none in the present. Rather, spiritual joy is the power to rejoice in the good one is experiencing, plus gratitude for blessings from God in the present--topped by the hope and desire to accomplish greater and greater goals (righteous goals) by the power of faith in Jesus Christ, adding to our happiness. And such joy is impossible if one does not labor for the good of others.

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Revenge is a badge of mediocrity. Revenge throws a mental knife at others, probing to cause deep misery in their lives. Contention is the noise of spiritual bondage. Contention is ill will at work. Contention is impatience, losing control of one's temper with petty irritations. Harsh, angry words are the eruption of the volcano of anger. Forgiveness without forgetting, then, will usually mean grudge carrying. A grudge stays alive through resentment.

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George H. Brimhall said, "Forgiveness as a gift of mercy is a guard against the grievous error of grudge holding. ... True forgiveness sets suspicion aside and puts trust or confidence in its place." (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 2, 1927.) A grudge muddies the mind. Grudge is the child of grouch. Grudge carrying is the holding back of an old matter for future retaliation. It is a sign of pride and self-pity. Grudge carrying bears the weight of the chains of revenge and contention. "While you are holding a grudge, the grudge is holding you." (Carson City News, Carson City, Nev. July 12, 1922.)

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"These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:16-19.) The positive side of what was written in Proverbs 6:16-19 seems to be this: These things doth the Lord love; yea, they are a delight unto Him: A humble countenance, a mind of integrity, and hands that embark in service; a grateful heart that seeketh the glory of God, feet that step forward and upward in righteousness; a witness that testifieth of truth, and he that soweth peace among brethren.

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Faith in God not only means a trust in God's promises regarding the forgiveness of our sins, but also the spiritual energy of mercifulness for one's fellowmen. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15.) In other words, blessed are they who forgive one another, for they shall receive forgiveness from their Heavenly Father.

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"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2.) Jesus is the finisher of our faith. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8.) Walking humbly with God is to walk with Him on His straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. "Let us walk in the light of the Lord." (Isaiah 2:5.) Walking in the light of the Lord is walking in the path where the light of the Lord's countenance shines. The Lord Jesus Christ, blessing us as we obey His word, will give us the power to "run the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1), the power to finish the race, the power to endure to the end of the race.

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Gloria Young wrote, "The test of courtesy is treating members of your own family as though they were guests." (Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, June 17, 1937.) What a great thought, treating each member of your family as though they were guests in the home. It has often been said that some people show more kindness and courtesy to total strangers than they do to their own spouse and children. We ought to treat members of our own family as though they were our heroes. Not only are the parents heroes for their children, but the children are heroes for the parents.

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If someone asked me the question, "Who are your heroes?" my answer would be: My parents are my heroes. Members of my family are my heroes. Children are my heroes. Anyone who builds happiness in the lives of others and serves with the pure love of Christ in their hearts is a true hero. The only famous people who should be considered as heroes are those who are honest and upright in character. Being successful in sports, business, politics or show biz does not produce heroes. Character produces heroes. Spirituality produces heroes.

After hearing this answer, the same person might be inclined to ask me another question: "Why or how can children be your heroes?" My answer: When you love children, especially little children, the happiness you receive by the gift of God is greater than the amount of happiness you may be able to generate in their lives. By the power of God, however, their happiness will be increased as we live the commandment of Christ given in Matthew 18:3-6: "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea."

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Wisdom is keeping the commandments of God. Faith without the wisdom to keep the commandments of God is dead. Knowledge must be used with humility to develop into wisdom, and wisdom, in turn, is using additional knowledge with humility. Without sanctified knowledge there is no wisdom. John A. Redmond wrote, "Knowledge is power but wisdom is control. Truth is light but goodness is warmth. It is most desirable that there be intelligence plus character." (Gull's Cry, Panama City, Fla., Sept. 23, 1959.) When we follow the teachings and commandments of Christ with sincerity of heart, "his love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:12), because obedience to Christ is obedience to the gospel of love. And what does it mean to have perfect love? "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18.) With the perfect love of God "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost," we are not ashamed. (See Romans 5:5.) We are not ashamed to do good unto others. We are not held back by fear to do good unto others. Instead, the pure love of God in our hearts builds spiritual motivation to serve others with a gracious, generous heart.

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True service is inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit. Service is a fountain of living waters that irrigates the garden of generosity, wherein the plants of kindness spring forth. Service is one of the sweetest kinds of wisdom. Service is wisdom in action. Wisdom is knowing the perfect thing to do, skill is the art of knowing how to do the perfect thing, and virtue is having the determination to achieve that perfection. Of all parts of wisdom, practicing the perfect thing is best.

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John K. Edmunds wrote, "Men seem to fall into five classes: (1) Those who have and exercise initiative by doing the right thing, at the right time, without being asked; (2) Those who do the right thing when told once: (3) Those who do the right thing when told more than once; (4) Those who do the right thing only when they feel that it is absolutely necessary; and (5) Those who never do it.” (Amo Servitum, Los Angeles, Calif., October 1970.) In regards to service unto our fellowmen, men seem to fall into these five classes: (1) Those who have and exercise spiritual initiative by serving a fellowman without being asked; (2) Those who serve when told once; (3) Those who serve when told more than once; (4) Those who serve only when it is convenient; and (5) Those who never do it, except maybe when they are literally forced to do it.

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A sense of humor is the art of finding comedies in one's own tragedies. A sense of humor is also the art of helping others find comedies in their tragedies, without causing any embarrassment or without inciting them to anger. A righteous sense of humor is based on humility and integrity; otherwise, it will be a perverted sense of humor, one that is negative and even despicable.

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A perverted sense of humor causes misery in the lives of others and is a destructive habit. Any humor that causes misery in the lives of others is not appropriate humor for the occasion. It is not inspired by the Spirit of God, and is not motivated by the power of spirituality. A righteous sense of humor includes a spirit of tolerance and understanding. A perverted or sick sense of humor includes prejudice and the motive to belittle.

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A person should not use humor to hurt others, to criticize others or to belittle others. Some people try to disguise their criticism as humor. Humor that is used to downgrade somebody else is built on a foundation of egotism. The egotist uses his negative humor or sick humor in his efforts to build himself up while tearing others down. He is likely to be jealous toward someone else, and thus uses negative humor directly against that person. The egotist also uses degrading humor to try and make himself the center of attention. Sick humor, degrading humor, is a mark of spiritual insanity.

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A person whose sense of humor is based on humility and integrity will more likely have a sense of understanding toward others. He will realize that some humor, although it may not be filthy humor, could still be degrading to one person while it may not be negative to another person. A perverted sense of humor hurts others and causes tension, but a righteous sense of humor will help ease the tension and relieve anxieties.

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A false sense of humor that is based on vulgarity is a cause of degradation of others. The false sense of humor of the bigots is easily seen through, if we just examine closely what they say about others. Again, any humor that degrades others is not based on spirituality.

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An understanding heart is not to be found in the person whose mind is loaded with egotism. An egotist is he who thinks that everyone should see his humor as something great. And if a person does not laugh at his humor, he is quick to judge that person as strange or weird. Humor stirred on by egotism, if uncontrolled, can easily lead to such extreme criticism as character assassination. And this often means assassinating a person's character right in his presence.

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He who has a righteous sense of humor does not take any humor to extremes, such as continually making fun of the misfortunes of others. A sense of humor based on humility and integrity will not be carried too far. Self-control is a valuable spiritual attribute to use in combination with a sense of humor. We must control our output of humor, to use humor with wisdom and not make fun of other people's weaknesses. Let us cultivate a righteous sense of humor, and learn to be sensitive to the feelings of others. Then we will not be guilty of disguising criticism or prejudice as humor. And, if necessary, we should have the courage to rebuke evil or wicked humor, when inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so.

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Criticism hurts the person who says it more than those he speaks about, although it is not always evident. But still there are millions who do suffer from the criticism that goes on. Dean Allen provided some wise counsel on how to cope with criticism: "Don't mind criticism. If it is untrue, disregard it; if it is unfair, keep from irritation; if it is ignorant, smile; if it is justified, learn from it." (Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 9, 1923.) And Stephen R. Covey expressed this point: "A person who feels and speaks critically of another lacks integrity. That is, he isn't sufficiently at one with himself so that he can honor the individuality and respect the human differences of another. Rather, he takes his own civil war out into the life of another. His own lack of self-acceptance and self-respect manifests itself in grasping, selfishness and judging rejection." (Irish Challenge, Finaghy, Ireland, July 23, 1962.) Not only is criticism a civil war, but it is also a war of retaliation when we react with criticism back at a person who criticizes us. Retaliation is the impatience of selfishness. Ignorance retaliates with the grunting of selfishness.

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"Pride goeth before destruction." (Proverbs 16:18.) Humility goeth before construction. Humility is the builder of constructive purposes. Constructive purposes are purposes inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit in a pure heart. The greatest constructive purposes come from God as we walk humbly with Him, taking instructions at His side. Patient perseverance is the proof of constructive purposes. Work based on constructive purposes is the intelligence of the mind, and intelligence based on pure motives is the work of the heart. A goal without a constructive purpose is only a wish. True initiative is starting a project with a constructive purpose.

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Appreciation of others crystallizes into spiritual joy–the tasty bread of fulness and the living waters of self-respect.

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Thinking of our blessings and showing true sympathy toward others is a way of building self-respect in our disposition. We will thus have a sweet disposition and will maintain our friendships and consistently make new friends.

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True, sincere honesty is developed through moral education, working diligently to understand what is good and right and by learning to respect the rights of others. True honesty is not fully developed only by being honest after having been caught in wrongdoing or violating the law. One must be committed before God to live with integrity, and not just be honest only because of pressure or only when it's convenient. In a land of freedom, honesty is a responsibility, and the fact that it is a responsibility implies the necessity of living the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

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Self-respect usually results from hope. Self-respect, in turn, gives energy to the wings of hope. It opens the soul to all kinds of strengths, virtues and to pure love. We can build our self-respect in prayer if we avoid viewing ourselves only in our own little world. Thanksgiving builds self-respect, whereas ingratitude causes self-pity.

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Integrity is spiritual truth in action. Integrity is the resource of strength. If honesty is the best policy, then many people are liabilities without insurance--their lives are one big lie, built upon a foundation of deception. A life of dishonesty is destructive, lacking the foundation of constructive purposes.

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Selfishness is ignorance plus stinginess.

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Selfishness is a destructive imagination that attempts to project misery into the lives of others. In other words, selfishness is an attempt to make other people mirrors of its own misery. The man of selfishness depreciates the feelings of others, classifying them as unimportant.

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Service to others increases charity in our hearts and in turn enlarges our souls. Impatience is the odor of selfishness. Self-pity is the waste of time in rowing against the tide of imaginary troubles, imaginary disappointments. Concentrating on imaginary troubles causes us to drift with the tide, by throwing overboard the oars of spiritual diligence. Spiritual muscles become weak when afflicted with the false notion that patience is passive. Concentrating on imaginary troubles also destroys our desire to work for something good and worthwhile. Why? Because we have no willingness to do the necessary waiting while we work toward the accomplishment of righteous goals. Impatience is a loser–a loser that gets outrun by mediocrity. Patience is the sign of a good, well-ordered system of planning in one's life.

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There can never be true friendship if one of the individuals has a chronic case of self-pity. Self-respect and respect for others are next to impossible when a person weighs himself down with the self-inflicted burden of self-pity.

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Love for God and love for our fellowmen is self-construction. We cannot construct or build character in our lives without the proper building materials, and the foundation of character must be and is serving God and serving our fellowmen–for we will not have the Spirit of the Lord with us if we live a selfish life.

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"Jealousy is distrust of self." (W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 29, 1924.) "Jealousy is just a sudden and acute case of loss of self-esteem." (John D. Murphy, Journal of Living, New York, N.Y., December 1951.) "Jealousy is tormenting yourself, for fear you should be tormented by others." (Rural Repository, Hudson, N.Y., March 20, 1847.) Jealousy is not only self-distrust based on a lack of self-esteem, but it is also the distrust of others–judging others to be tormenting you when they are not. The jealous person just thinks so negatively of others that he sees them as tormenting him--when in reality he has no way of knowing what they think of him, unless they actually make tormenting comments. One definition of jealousy is "an acute form of acquisitiveness." (Louisville Herald, Louisville, Ky., Sept. 9, 1905.) In a chain of dictionary definitions, acquisitiveness means grasping, and grasping means greedy. Grasping also means trying to seize.

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The jealous person tries to seize something because of greed, but if he actually did seize it, then it would of course be robbery--if he is trying to seize someone else's material possessions. Jealousy, however, more commonly develops into the robbing of someone else of his good name than it does the theft of material possessions. The robbing of someone else's good name occurs when the jealousy turns into gossip. William Shakespeare, in the play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," penned this phrase: "the forgeries of jealousy." (Act II, Scene I.) A forgery is defined as a fraudulent imitation, and an imitation is something not genuine. A person filled with jealousy invents false ideas about other people in an attempt to build himself up by knocking others down--in his own mind. Concentrating on his false inventions, he becomes more and more prone to gossip about those people. Gossip is really nothing more than jealousy in action. Another way of saying it is, covetousness produces gossip. Gossip is only a means of advertising one's jealousy. Jealousy is a critic that uses gossip to justify his views. A jealous person is an egotistical gossiper. He boasts about himself while he criticizes others and speaks falsehood about them. Jealousy is bitter envy.

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Jealousy is an inferiority complex aroused by suspicion.

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William Fred Galbraith emphasized, "Some sins break only one commandment at a time, but this sin of covetousness breaks all the Ten Commandments at once." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, June 23, 1913.) The sin of covetousness does indeed break the commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." He who is prone to the temptation to covet somebody else's material possessions or mental talents can easily fall into the temptation to gossip about that person, the temptation to tear down that person with evil speaking. All gossip is a violation of the commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," no matter if it originates with a person or if he is repeating it. And the danger of repeating gossip, of course, is that it tends to increase in its negativism or in its reputation-damaging power.

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The love of money earns the wages of sin. A paycheck for the wages of sin will not bounce. All the world's a stage, and many thereon make movie contracts for the wages of sin. He who earns the wages of sin is generally working overtime. The wages of sin are the only way some people pay their tuition in the school of experience. The love of money is the root of all evil growing along the path to hell.

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"The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not." (Proverbs 21:25-26.) "Too many people make cemeteries of their lives by burying their talents." (Clifton N. Memmott, Uintah Basin Standard, Roosevelt, Utah, March 23, 1961.) Covetousness, idleness and selfishness are the shovels with which one buries his talents. In contrast, gratitude for one's God-given talents plus gratitude for the talents of others builds the desire to develop one's talents to the fullest.

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It does not take any work to bury a talent. Laziness buries the talent.

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The road to ruin lies across the quicksand of greed. The road to ruin is kept in good repair at the expense of the travelers thereon whose love of money always causes them to live beyond their means. "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase." (Proverbs 13:11.) Wealth gotten by humility is righteous increase, but he that gathereth by greed shall diminish his soul.

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Gordon C. Whiting wrote, "One of the few virtues which does not seem to become dangerous when practiced in excess, is the virtue of integrity. I can't remember anyone being criticized for having too much of it." (CommWorld, Provo, Utah, Winter 1987.) There can be no basis for such a statement as this about someone: "He is too honest." Why? The more honest a man is, the greater will be the fruit of the Spirit brought forth through obedience to the word of God. In the parable of the sower, "the seed is the word of God." (Luke 8:11.) We are told that some of the seed "fell on good ground." (Luke 8:8.) We are told further that the seed "on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." (Luke 8:15.) "The fruit of the Spirit" is impossible without the seed of the word being planted in a heart of integrity. Integrity is obedience to the word of God.

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A person who has stolen from others in any kind of way is dishonest before God, and is dishonest through and through even if he has not been arrested and convicted of his thefts or robberies. Lynn W. Landrum pointed out, "Integrity is not simply the good luck of keeping out of prison." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 10, 1951.) A man's dishonesty might not be known by any other person in the world, or just by a few others, but the God of heaven knows about the dishonesty. He cannot hide it from God. Anyone who thinks he can hide his dishonesties and still have a happy life is grossly mistaken. The severity of dishonest acts prompted by greed is evident in the increasing difficulty of repenting of the dishonesty, the longer the repentance is procrastinated. Repentance of theft or robbery is incomplete without restitution or paying back in full what was stolen. This is important and necessary because the person who committed such a theft is likely to have caused great suffering or financial problems for the people he stole from. In fact, paying back more than what he stole is a sign that he has recognized that he caused suffering and problems for the people he stole from. Again, the procrastinating of repentance of a theft or robbery only increases the difficulty of repentance. This is particularly true if the stolen money was spent, or if the stolen merchandise was sold. Honest concern for other people and a sense of understanding for them is the foundation for the strength of conscience that in turn helps one to resist temptations to steal from others in any kind of way.

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"Boasting of being honest doesn't prove it." (Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho, Sept. 29, 1919.) Boasting about something is often or most always a proof that a person is not what he claims to be. Integrity is shown, rather, in one's actions and character. Integrity is also proven if he is "a man of his word." Only through integrity do we gain the trust and confidence of others. "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men." (Matthew 6:5.) Those teachings from Jesus Christ's Sermon on the Mount can be applied to the principle of integrity: Thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, for they love to boast about being honest, that they may be heard of men. The attribute of integrity is lived by a person in a silent manner. Integrity is not proven by boasting about it.

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A lie is a train of thought made up of boxcars of previous lies.

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Dishonesty is the darkness that exists in an undisciplined conscience. It is the weakness of irresponsibility within us. Dishonesty is the worthlessness we set on ourselves.

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Sincerity is the oil that lubricates the wheels of humility. Sincerity is the fuel by which the engine of enthusiasm is powered. There is no sincerity without honesty. There is no true enthusiasm without sincerity. Flattery is false enthusiasm. Deceitfulness is false enthusiasm. He who is enthusiastically anemic looks at life through pale eyes.

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Flattery is a train of thought made up of flat cars of ulterior motives.

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If we are ever tempted to say, "Don't tell anyone I said this," when we are talking about other people, it is a sign that we should stop right then, throw the gossip out of our minds, and not repeat it. Also, learn to recognize this in others who are gossiping. We must discipline ourselves to say, "I don't want to hear it." A person who gossips and adds the statement, "Don't mention my name," is in reality trying to dodge the responsibility for his own actions. That is, he has an attitude of self-justification–thinking that it is all right to repeat gossip because he didn't originate it. Gossip is a sin--a violation of the commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." (Exodus 20:16.) Note which commandment is next after that one: "Thou shalt not covet." (Exodus 20:17.)

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Profanity is often a companion to intolerance and prejudice. Intolerance creates a foundation of fear in human relationships, producing prejudice and resentment. Intolerance puts out a hand of bitterness, powered by a mind of misunderstanding. "Intolerance is the only sure sign of ignorance." (Carson City News, Carson City, Nev., Oct. 31, 1923.) Tolerance is the spiritual vision that separates the sinner from the sin in our minds and hearts. So much of the profanity, prejudice and intolerance in the world today is found in expressions of unfair or unjust criticism.

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Profanity is the soul of irreligion. Its seedbed is hypocrisy. Profanity is a sign of spiritual immaturity, weakness and mediocrity. Profanity is rudeness founded on pride and self-pity. LeGrand Richards said, "Profanity is incompatible with reverence." (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 17, 1953.) He who has self-respect based on gratitude and humility will have respect for others. And reverence is the fragrance of self-respect flowing out of a pure heart. He who has the spirit of reverence is humble before God and filled with love for his fellowmen. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Prejudice is the attitude of thinking that somebody else's religion is 100 percent wrong, because the negative attitude of prejudice prevents one from looking at the good and positive in someone else's life. The attitude of intolerance is in many respects synonymous with a desire to deprive someone else of his religious freedom. Prejudice is a terrible wax buildup in the spiritual ears and is also cataracts in the spiritual eyes, preventing us from understanding other people and seeing the good in them.

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Pride is the ignorance of the unbelieving. The more one ascends in pride, the higher or greater is his unbelief. Pride is the foundation of all the vices–and their lifeblood. Hypocrisy is a graffiti of vices. Hypocrisy is one side of a split personality trying to justify the other side. Pride is a state of self-deformation. Pride is the door to selfishness, and narrowmindedness is the latch. Pride is the self-crucifixion of a man's spirituality.

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Hypocrisy is a mask used to cover up self-pity. When the hypocrite boasts, he reveals his sins of omission. Pride is the noise of mediocrity. Mediocrity is often just indecision in disguise.

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Pride is self-deformation. It is actually the rejection of self in the long run, plus self-pity, a lack of understanding of others, dishonesty with self and others, contention, hypocrisy, impatience and immaturity. Ingratitude is characterized by evil actions, such as profanity, criticism and prejudice.

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Permissiveness is the crucible of irresponsibility.

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Arrogance, connected with indifference, is the foundation of discourtesy. Discourtesy is the highway to the land of intolerance. Discourtesy is a sign of lack of dependability.

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Courtesy is the fruit of honesty, for it lifts the burdens of others with little acts of kindness and love. Sincerity is another offspring of honesty, and is strengthened by the continual flowing of the stream of courtesy.

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Worry is a dread for the future brought upon us by a lack of self-confidence to deal with one's present problems, coupled with ignorance of God's promises to the righteous. Lack of confidence in God's promises, lack of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, means in turn no utilization of the power of prayer. Without the sincere prayer of faith before retiring to bed for the night, one may find himself restless all night because of his worrying--or if he does fall asleep, the negative thinking could cause him to have some sort of nightmare. Before we retire to bed, one helpful idea might be to write down our worries or fears on a sheet of paper–a method of getting them out of our minds--and then seek the Lord's Spirit to comfort us. Another idea is to commit ourselves to the Lord that we will work on our real problems, rather than worrying ourselves into unnecessary burdens that we will have to work out of.

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Worry literally means causing misery in our own lives by being fearful about imaginary troubles. Worry is emotional disturbance over anticipated troubles, most of which do not happen.

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Worry is compounded interest paid by those who not only borrow trouble, but also pay it back.

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Worry is a train of thought that travels only in circles and has no terminal.

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Worry, the thief of intelligence, uses ignorance to meet the tasks and challenges of the day.

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Worry puts ready hinges on the door of failure.

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Worry is a virus that causes the disease of negative attitudes and the cancer of idleness. This cancer is literally a bomb that destroys the nation of determination, leaving the ashes of procrastination.

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Most of us could have the faith to move mountains if we did not build so many molehills of fear around us. Fear is the chickenheartedness of self-slavery. Gratitude is spiritual awareness of good in a heart filled with the love of God. The love of God is the power by which one thinks with his heart. True faith in Christ is not blind faith, but rather, it has spiritual vision with the eye of faith. True faith in Christ constructs highways that lead to the fulfillment of our worthy hopes or righteous desires. Thus it is "the substance of things hoped for." (Hebrews 11:1.)

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Indifference is failing to focus attention on an objective. Indifference is negative thought that lessens one's ability to evaluate and execute effort toward the objective. Indifference fills the mind with envy. Indifference comes from discouragement and discouragement, in turn, produces more indifference.

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Procrastination is the art of suffering tomorrow's troubles today, and more intense suffering the day after.

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Ellis O. Jones wrote, "Success is not one, but a series, of goals." (Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, Philadelphia, Pa., June 1912.) Life is a series of mile runs. Each mile run is a short-range goal, but each mile run does not necessarily come directly after another mile run. Much preparation is required before each race is run, to progress toward the accomplishment of long-range goals.

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"Some people are noted for their inertiative." (Maury Democrat, Columbia, Tenn., Oct. 25, 1944.) "Many people have initiative, but many seem to lack finishitive." (Roy E. Gibson, Nephi Times-News, Nephi, Utah, Oct. 14, 1976.) Getting things done is important in achieving any success, whether in work, at home, in personal endeavors, or in the spiritual life. The initiative to start working on important tasks at hand is a necessary quality of success. Once a person exercises that initiative, the question is whether he has more finishitive than inertiative--more of the finishing power of perseverance than the inertia of self-inflicted obstacles. Timing is important in exercising initiative. "Initiative is using something you know at the right time and in the right way." (H.S. Mobley, Ochiltree County Herald, Perryton, Texas, March 22, 1928.) "The courage of time is punctuality." (The Baptist Chronicle, Alexandria, La., Nov. 11, 1909.) It takes courage to exercise initiative and to overcome inertiative, which is just another name for procrastination. "Procrastination is not only the thief of time, but it's the thief of the soul." (W.E. "Bill" Hawkins, Panhandle Herald, Panhandle, Texas, Aug. 24, 1928.) Procrastination is the thief of the soul's finishitive, and the more that a person procrastinates his work and responsibilities, the more likely he will find his soul bogged down with worries over how he will ever get all his important tasks and necessary work done.

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Some symptoms of procrastination include: (1) no self-understanding, or no understanding of one's own abilities and lack of ability; (2) failure to set worthy goals in life; (3) indulgence in wishful thinking; (4) using just about every moment with negative thinking; and (5) classifying high standards of work and righteousness as foolishness and as unimportant.

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Procrastination is putting off one's responsibilities. Procrastination-itis is the putting off of duties so frequently that the sense of responsibility is lost.

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The man of indecision, when attempting to climb the mountain of success, may get buried in the avalanche of discouragement. Indecision deadens the spirit of man and breeds a state of indifference. Whenever indecision thinks it is moving, it only jumps to confusions.

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"It makes no difference how smart you are; the old cow won't back up to you, while you are sitting in the shade, to be milked." (Cotton Simms, Panhandle Herald, Panhandle, Texas, Oct. 5, 1928.) We cannot expect to progress spiritually by sitting in the shade of comfort all the time. Just as "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20), prayer without work is dead also. We must get out of the shade of comfort, and work and pray. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of work. We cannot progress spiritually if we carry on with the attitude that we can set in the shade of material comfort or the attitude that we can get by without the gospel of work.

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Laziness is a curse, a combination of bad habits which stagnate our spiritual progress and destroy opportunities for career development and personal improvement. He who performs low quality work is dishonest with himself as well as being dishonest with his employer. High quality work produces exhilaration, happiness and self-esteem. It is the seedbed for spiritual initiative and righteousness. It is the ally of progress and salvation.

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Idleness is the seedbed of temptation. When we are idle and greedy, we are much more likely to fall into temptation than when we are working honestly and accomplishing righteous goals.

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Resisting temptation strengthens our self-control and character. Making a decision once early in life to turn away from a particular sin and resisting it the rest of one's life will build a spiritual habit that increases the resistance as the years go by.

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"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8.) "Let us walk in the light of the Lord." (Isaiah 2:5.) "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7.) Walking humbly with God is synonymous with walking in the light of the Lord. Both of these are also synonymous with walking by faith. Faith without walking in humility with God is dead. Faith without walking in the light of the Lord is dead. William M. Anderson, Sr., wrote, "Walking in the light is walking where the righteousness of God has broken the darkness of sin." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 6, 1922.) Walking humbly with God is walking with Him on His straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life. "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance." (Psalms 89:15.) Walking humbly with God is walking where the light of the Lord's countenance shines–on that straight and narrow path.

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Spiritual success is not found only at the end of the overall race of life. It can be experienced and achieved in every step, every stride of the way. The race could be more appropriately called the road of spiritual success rather than the road to spiritual success. Decide today to set worthwhile goals on a foundation of constructive purposes. Add to this the will to work, and you will have the vision necessary to break up the clouds of despair, to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us." (Hebrews 12:1.) Then you can see that the road of spiritual success is the pathway of joy and happiness. It is not the pathway to joy and happiness, because each mile of the pathway ought to be filled with joy and happiness.

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Conscience is a spiritual compass with two directions: R and W. It is up to us to read by the Spirit of the Lord and come to know what direction it points to–the Right way to go; and to observe the warning sign about the Wrong way–the way to be avoided.

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Building and maintaining integrity cannot be accomplished without knowing or learning what is good and what is right, plus the self-discipline to do what is right.

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Self-control is the courage of wisdom. Self-control is the wedding of all the virtues. "He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fall." (Proverbs 22:8.) He that soweth righteousness shall reap humility, and powerful shall be his self-control. Self-control is not the swallowing of one's wrath, for that only keeps the wrath inside himself. Rather, self-control is the power to stop wrath from entering one's mind and heart. Self-control is a state of freedom in obedience to the laws of God, and calmness in the midst of tribulations. Self-control is the multiplication of peace, the building of character, and the enhancing of self-respect. Through self-control, one has humble, pure desires to help others.

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Success is putting your best foot forward onto stepping stones more often than stubbing your toe on stumbling blocks.

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"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48.) "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." (Genesis 17:1.) "As for God, his way is perfect." (2 Samuel 22:31.) Walking with God is walking on the pathway of perfection. "God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect." (2 Samuel 22:33.) Walking with God means that we are walking with Him who makes our way perfect. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8.) Walking humbly with God is walking with Him in uprightness and mercy. Humility, uprightness and mercy are a triad of virtues which give life to one another. Without one or all of these spiritual strengths, we will not progress on the pathway of perfection but will wander off onto side roads that only go downhill.

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In three verses early in the book of Job, the man Job is described as "a perfect and an upright man." (John 1:1, 8; 2:3.) Perfection and uprightness go hand in hand. "The way of the Lord is strength to the upright." (Proverbs 10:29.) Again, "As for God, his way is perfect." (2 Samuel 22:31.) The perfect way of the Lord is strength to the upright. "The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them." (Proverbs 11:3.) The integrity of the upright shall guide them on the Lord's perfect way. "Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner." (Proverbs 13:6.) Obedience to the commandments of God is what keeps us upright on the Lord's perfect pathway. "[The Lord] layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly." (Proverbs 2:7.) Wisdom is a blessing to the righteous as they walk uprightly on the Lord's pathway of perfection.

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"It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect." (Psalms 18:32.) "Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip." (Psalms 18:36.) "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart." (Psalms 101:2.) God will make our way perfect, but we too must make the decision and determination to do what is right and perfect. We must commit ourselves to walk with God with a perfect heart. The old saying is, "Practice makes perfect." Joseph H. Appel wrote, "But practice does not make perfect unless we practice the perfect thing--try to equal the perfect thing. Practicing the imperfect thing only makes us more unskilled in doing the thing perfectly." (The Making of a Man, New York, N.Y., 1921.) God has prepared the perfect way for us to walk, but we must make the decision to practice what is perfect and then go forth and become perfect in one thing and later move on to developing perfection in another thing.

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"The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way; but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness." (Proverbs 11:5.) When we have become perfect in one thing, perfect in one commandment given to us by God, that perfection can direct us in the path of perfection toward working on another one of His commandments. "The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness." (Proverbs 11:6.) Perfection in one commandment of God gives us strength to resist temptations and we are delivered from the temptations. As we continue to add perfection in more commandments, our strength is increased to resist temptations. But when we backslide off the perfect way, the cliffs of wickedness are very slippery and very steep ones in our fall.

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"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace." (Psalms 37:37.) "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3.) He who walks on the pathway of perfection, who keeps his mind focused on God, is blessed with perfect peace. We cannot do what is wrong and feel perfect peace. "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:25.) The pleasures of sin are not lasting happiness. They are only a "momentary thrill" which soon become a devastating misery.

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"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." (Psalms 19:7.) As we obey a commandment of the Lord, we become converted to that commandment, and the more we live it, we progress toward perfection in it. Our testimony of the Lord becomes stronger and stronger, and He blesses us with wisdom to do what is right, to stay on the pathway of perfection. "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby we know that we are in him." (1 John 2:4-5.) Not only does God bless us with wisdom to give us strength to stay on the pathway of perfection, but His love is also perfected in us as we obey His commandments. "Put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, ... and be ye thankful." (Colossians 3:14-15.) The pathway of perfection is indeed the pathway of charity, the pathway of peace and also the pathway of thanksgiving.

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"Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." (2 Corinthians 13:11.) "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1.) "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?" (James 2:22.) "They should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance." (Acts 26:20.) Decisions to perfect ourselves one commandment at a time, one principle at a time, and going forth unto this perfection is the pathway of peace. Repentance is a necessary part of the process of perfection, whereby we perfect holiness in the worship and reverence of God. "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:20.) Faith without works meet for repentance is dead. Faith with the works of Christ and the works meet for repentance is made perfect.

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"Be of one mind." (2 Corinthians 13:11.) Jesus, in His prayer to the Father in behalf of His followers, said, "And the glory which thou gamest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." (John 17:22-23.) The Savior will lead us on the pathway of perfection, for His desire is that we become perfect, but He will not force it on us. For He said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20.) We must invite the Savior into our lives, whereby he can lead us on the pathway of perfection. The love of God is then manifested in our lives, and His glory is given to us, whereby we become one with God and Christ. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2.)

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"And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may know what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2.) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:17.) The perfect will of God, the word of God, is given for our transforming by the renewing of our mind–a continual renewing of the mind as we "let the word of God dwell in [us] richly in all wisdom." (Colossians 3:16.) The richness of perfection is being "thoroughly furnished unto all good works." And this is a promised blessing: "God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:17.)

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"The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him by glory and dominion for ever and ever." (1 Peter 5:10-11.) Being called unto the eternal glory of Christ does not mean any limitations of our freedom or our agency. Rather, sin and disobedience are what infringe on our liberty. Peter wrote about people who "speak great swelling words of vanity," who "allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness." (2 Peter 2:18.) Peter then said, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." (2 Peter 2:19.) The gospel of Jesus Christ, in contrast, is "the perfect law of liberty." (James 1:25.) The Lord's pathway of perfection is where we enjoy the blessings of the perfect law of liberty. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (Galatians 5:1.)

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"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." (Hebrews 5:8-9.) "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering." (Hebrews 2:10.) "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever." (Hebrews 13:20-21.) Paul taught that Jesus learned obedience through His sufferings. Christ lived a perfect life, and His sufferings made perfect His compassion for us. Jesus' atonement and resurrection are the power by which we can become perfect in every good work according to his perfect will, the power by which we can stay on the pathway of perfection, progressing forward on His straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life. Remember His promise: "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9.)

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"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13.) "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13.) God will work in us His will, but we must come unto Christ and declare with the same faith which Paul declared, that we have the faith to do God's will through the strengthening which Christ gives us "Be strong and of good courage." (Joshua 1:9.) We must have the courage to do the Lord's will, courage to "stand fast in the Lord" (Philippians 4:1), the courage to "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God." (Colossians 4:12.)

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Jesus said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48.) Humility means to be inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit to improve oneself, when contemplating on the perfection of Christ and the absoluteness of His teachings and commandments. Jesus is the one we should compare ourselves to, not other people. To receive guidance from the Father who is perfect, we must pray unto Him in sincerity of heart.

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The humble depend on the Lord to give them understanding of their true value. Their self-esteem is determined by the knowledge that they are sons and daughters of God, inheritors of the potentialities to develop and be blessed with the attributes of Christ.

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Good habits are a reflection of pure thoughts and Christlike personalities, and the actions inspired by righteous thoughts and pondering about the perfection of Christ.

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Roy O. McClain defined purposeless as "the sin of nothingness." (The Beam, Fort Worth, Texas, April 1958.) Without constructive purposes, our lives are carried on in the rut of nothingness. The rut of nothingness is likely to eventually become the grave of spiritual death.

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"Idleness is moral leprosy, which soon eats its way into the heart and corrodes our happiness, while it undermines our health." (Rural Repository, Hudson, N.Y., Feb. 20, 1847.) Work is a moral vitamin, which provides necessary nutrients for the health of the spirit and increases our happiness. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is "faith which worketh by love." (Galatians 5:6.)

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Despair, the weed of death, contains the poison of spiritual stagnation. Despair means there is no gratitude for opportunities to serve God and to serve others. Despair shades away our eyes from the light of the Lord. Despair looks backward. Doubt goes backward. Aimlessness is wound up with the key of despair. Aimlessness dreams nightmares and sees only darkness. Despair is the undergarment of pessimism. Pessimism is often a self-fulfilling prophecy based on fear. Pessimism is in reality the love of failure. Pessimism procrastinates because of its despair of the worst possible outcome.

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Without an application of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no desire to believe the truth of those principles.

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Without wisdom there is no identification of the things that matter most in life, especially one's family and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Inspiration + Perspiration = Presspiration, the power by which we can "press toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 3:14.)

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Preparation + Prayer = Prayparation, the power by which we can accomplish the righteous desires of our hearts.

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Perseverance grows through faith in God. The word enthusiasm comes from words meaning "God in us." God lives, and He will live in us as we are faithful in our perseverance to live His will, remembering that He is indeed the greatest source of our perseverance, the Giver of all good.

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"For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright." (Psalms 11:7.) The upright or the righteous, as they obey the word and will of the Lord, are blessed with the light of the countenance of God shining forth from them. This gospel glow or spiritual radiance continues in our lives as we, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, keep walking the straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life.

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"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance." (Proverbs 15:13.) Having the joy of the Lord in our hearts gives us a cheerful countenance, and the joy of the Lord produces in us a desire to bring happiness and joy into the lives of others, to cheer them up.

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Ungrateful people will never be satisfied, for as it is written, "Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough." (Isaiah 56:11.) Ingratitude is discontent based on greed. Hate roots in greed, grows in selfishness, and blooms in misery. The fruits of greed become the roots of more hate. Gather the seeds of discontent and they will grow you a garden of greed.

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Cicero said, "A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues." Confucius said, "Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues." And in a newspaper editorial it was written, "Gratitude is a twin of humility. They are always found associated." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 25, 1928.) Based on the two proverbs plus the newspaper editorial, we can say that gratitude and humility are the foundation virtues. And not only are gratitude and humility the foundation virtues, they are also attributes necessary in all the steps of spiritual progress and mental development–from start to finish.

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Ingratitude is the quicksand of misery.

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A key to happiness is expressing appreciation to others for their virtues and talents, and also expressing that appreciation to God in personal prayer. Give specific thanks for specific virtues and specific talents. If you feel appreciative of a particular virtue or talent manifested by another person, express to that person why you are grateful. Specific gratitude will have a greater impact in one's own life and in the lives of others than just generalized thanksgiving. When gratitude for the virtues and talents of others becomes a spiritual habit, it can become a reciprocal power–a reflection of happiness and joy.

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Family members who express appreciation for the virtues and talents of each other will grow closer, increasing love and happiness in their home. Humility is basic to a sincerity which makes intelligent communication possible, and also loving cooperation. Humility is shown in the sincere compliments one makes to others. William Barnes Lower expressed this insight: "We can express our gratitude by showing confidence in the one who has done us a kindness." (New York Observer, New York, N.Y., Nov. 12, 1908.) Expressing gratitude to others for the virtues and talents also helps to build their self-respect. And expressing in our prayers thanksgiving for the virtues and talents of others helps us overcome feelings of envy or covetousness or bitterness. Appreciating the goodness of others is a wise use of one's time, rather than wasting away one's life with attitudes of envy. Gratitude overcomes contention and builds peace.

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Gratitude is a power that motivates us to glory in the Lord, to serve others and to always think of ways to do good unto others–and then in turn to do what is good and honest. Ingratitude only thinks of itself, only thinking that it has not received enough.

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"Stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour." (2 Peter 3:1-2.) The gift of memory or the power of remembrance is a wonderful blessing when it is stirred up in a pure heart. "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." (1 Timothy 1:5.) When we remember the kindness and love shown unto us by other people, those memories motivate us to serve others out of a pure heart. And when we serve others out of a pure heart, it is service out of a heart of humility whereby we desire to glorify God and Christ and not to glorify ourselves.

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Kindness is the blossom of gratitude. The kingship of Kindness means a reign of peace and a crown of joy. His throne is next to the one of Patience, which has been called "the queen of virtues."

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G.W. Montgomery said, "Hope is the desire of things which we expect will add to our happiness. No man hopes for things which he knows to be evil–hope embraces expected good." (Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate, Utica, N.Y., Sept. 13, 1842.) True hope is based completely on spiritual motives. A grateful heart, having a conviction that all good comes from God, acknowledges the hand of God when righteous hopes are fulfilled. Gratitude puts our present hopes in perspective as we contemplate our past and present blessings. Righteous hopes or righteous goals, which include desires for future happiness and good in our own lives and in the lives of others, are based upon obedience to spiritual laws.

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He who truly appreciates his freedoms is he who respects the rights of others. And he who respects the rights of others lays a foundation of honesty and integrity. Self-discipline is the pathway of wisdom because it enables one to appreciate his freedoms.

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We would do well to remember some words from Leviticus 25:10: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto the inhabitants thereof." The next phrase in that verse of scripture is often overlooked: "It shall be a jubilee unto you." He who truly appreciates his freedoms is he who has in his heart a spiritual jubilee unto the Lord both in prayer and in obedience to His commandments. If we are not having these feelings of spiritual jubilee for our freedoms, then we may very well be indifferent toward these blessings from God.

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He who uses his freedom for selfish and dishonest gain, or for causing misery in the lives of others, is abusing his freedom. These are they are "promise ... liberty, [but] they themselves are the servants of corruption." (2 Peter 2:19.) Anyone who uses his freedom to infringe on the rights of others not only violates the laws of the land, but he also violates "the perfect law of liberty." (James 1:25.)

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Honesty is the best policy because it is a policy of responsibility. Honesty is the best policy because it is a Golden Rule policy. Honesty is the best policy because it is a policy of industriousness.

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Lynn W. Landrum wrote, "Apathy is the first warning paralysis that precedes loss of liberty." (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, July 14, 1952.) Indifference to the blessings of freedom is shown in "the-world-owes-me-a-living" attitude. Indifference to freedom is also evident in an attitude of greed, whereby a person will infringe on the rights of others to satisfy his selfishness. Greed is a fruit of laziness, the demanding that other people–and the government–provide for one's welfare.

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Contentment is the warmth of peace. It cushions itself with its own purity; it makes itself happy through a recognition of all there is to be happy about; it cheers because it rejoices in the success and happiness of others. Contentment is both positive and constructive. A person climbs higher spiritually when, with confidence and faith in God, he strengthens his virtues, and at the same time strengthens others through Christlike service and through efforts at building peace among one's fellowmen. Happiness is said to be contagious and contentment is also contagious. Contentment is contagious because as contentment grows, people find less and less to be discontented about with others.

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Righteousness is the most persistent cause of happiness.

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"A smile firms up the muscles of your face by automatically exercising them." (Marilyn Miller, Austin American, Austin, Texas, July 16, 1922.) "Smiling lips must be accompanied by smiling eyes. One can smile with the eyes and not the lips, but never with the lips alone." (Josephine Huddleston, Austin American, March 9, 1924.) The smile of the eyes comes from the spiritual happiness of the heart filled with the love of Christ. The divine nature blesses one with the desire to cheer others up. The opposite of this is described in these words: "A grouch is just an ordinary individual with a conviction that he has a monopoly of trouble." (Austin American, Sept. 28, 1922.) How often have we started a day feeling quite happy ourselves, only to have somebody else, at home or work or elsewhere, try to inflict his unhappiness upon us? We end up becoming a victim of that other person's unhappiness.

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Unselfish service is a means of self-purification. It begets spiritual joy, which in turn inspires a greater degree of courage to do good unto others and to be honest with others. The opposite is a life of lies–dishonesty with man and hypocrisy toward God.

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Henry F. Cope wrote, "Love never has to advertise for a job." (Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., May 2, 1909.) Why does love never have to advertise for a job? When we have the love of Christ in our hearts, that love gives root to the spiritual motivation to do good unto others. This is the "faith which worketh by love." (Galatians 5:6.) Faith in Christ worketh by the love of Christ. Faith without the works of the love of Christ is dead.

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People who have the love of Christ in their hearts are motivated by the Holy Spirit to look for the best in others. They can be further motivated to help others, bearing one another's burdens, thus lightening each other's load. People who lift others with the love of Christ are comforted by the Holy Spirit in times of trial and tribulation. In contrast, the man of selfishness can only see bad in others–and much of what he says he sees is not true. He becomes prone to the temptations of gossip and criticism, and as a result, his desire of life is to tear down others in an effort to make himself look great. And to make matters worse, he usually denies that he is tearing down others. The man of selfishness spends so much time thinking only of himself and tearing down others that he has little time for anything else.

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A peacemaker prays for peace, not only for his own life but for other people. A man or woman, having gained peace from Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, must be a peace maintainer or someone who keeps the peace. A peacemaker brings out peace, produces peace by the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

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Fear is the failure to recognize the Lord as the Giver of all good. Cynicism, skepticism and unforgiveness are the foundations of fear. Fear is the poison of lack of trust in God. A fearful man is untrue to his better self. A fearful man lives a lie. Fear stems from an inward discontent built on unbelief toward God and impatience toward other people.

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Fear is the power of self-depression.

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The word enthusiasm, as it is commonly noted, comes from words meaning "God in us." Let us decide to be enthusiastic. Let us ask ourselves: Do our actions and our thinking show that we are demonstrating "God in us," making God alive in us, or are we doing what might be called "making God dead in us"?

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Obedience to the laws of God brings peace and contentment, and contentment, in turn, produces strengthening to continue to obey the will of God.

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Trials and tribulations are something we will always have in our lives. There may be some self-inflicted tribulation, but not all adversity comes because of disobedience to the commandments of God. There is "suffering for righteousness' sake." Charles L. Cockrell wrote, "'Love suffereth long.' The one who possesses love is willing to suffer for a righteous cause." (Garland News, Garland, Texas, Aug. 30, 1946.) Note Cockrell's use of the word willing. Nobody is forced to suffer for a righteous cause. We "suffer for righteousness' sake" after we have made the decisions of righteousness through our own free will, decisions made in obedience to God's commandments. Again, there is much tribulation we go through that does not come because of disobedience to God. If we see adversity as an enemy and not as a friend, we are likely to brood over our troubles and also speak with bitterness over our past troubles. We are also likely to try to run away from our adversity instead of learning from it. Such actions often come about because of self-pity.

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"Adversity is enjoyed as a kind of martyrdom by people who cannot help it." (Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Feb. 26, 1900.) Adversity is self-pity's martyrdom. In his epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Remember ... them which suffer in adversity." (Hebrews 13:3.) He who is grateful for his blessings must help others who may be suffering in adversity or tribulations; otherwise, his gratitude is insincere before God. This spiritual quality of character is not to be found in the man who, in his mansion on the hill, looks down on the flooding in the valley and only says, "Thank God it's not flooding here"–and proceeds to take a nap. The man of gratitude appreciates his opportunities for spiritual growth, including those received when he is prompted by the Holy Ghost to help others who are suffering in tribulation, trial or disaster. The man of gratitude also appreciates the opportunities for personal growth and development in times of adversity in his own life. He knows that he can learn a greater degree of self-discipline by meeting trouble as a friend.

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Emmet Rodwell Calhou wrote, "He who has not felt the weight of adversity knows not how to cherish prosperity." (Louisville Times, Louisville, Ky., Jan. 14, 1905.) Do we meet tribulations with an attitude of hope and confidence to endure them, to overcome them? Or do we become pessimistic about the future? Pessimism is the waterlogged raft that sinks you in the stream of adversity. An alibi is an automatic accusation against adversity in some people's lives, but achievement is an adventurous advance above adversity. Longsuffering is the power to endure tribulations and offenses, and its twin sister, gentleness, is the power to keep one from causing injury or distress in the lives of others.

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Impatience is a cause of self-inflicted tribulation. And impatience in times of adversity may mean the doubling of the adversity. It has been written, "Many a fellow is rowing against the tide because he hasn't patience enough to wait till it turns." (Puck, New York, N.Y., Feb. 19, 1913.) Life often seems like a continuous row against the tide of opposition. Our happiness and success in life, including spiritual success, depend on how we meet the tide and what we do with it. Impatience is rowing against the tide of opposition in the fog of spiritual darkness. Impatience has no spiritual vision to see the horizon. It may not even know that it is rowing against the tide of adversity because it cannot see through the darkness. And even if the tide did turn for it, impatience wouldn't have the wisdom needed to utilize any opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. Impatience turns disappointments into resentments, including resentments against God. Impatience magnifies tribulations instead of overcoming them and learning self-discipline through them.

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"In a sense, impatience with God is a form of atheism; in so far as men are rooted and grounded in faith ... they are content to wait on the Lord." (Outlook, New York, N.Y., Dec. 10, 1910.) Patience, including patience with God, blesses one with the spiritual light that dispels the fog of spiritual darkness. Patience brings about a turning of the tide of adversity, because it is the strength to turn the tribulations into blessings. The turning of the tide does not mean that there is drifting with the tide. Rather, it means that the tide of adversity is not a burden, but a blessing, through patience. Adversity has not ended, but there is a strength to meet and learn from tribulations in the future.

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"The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." (Ecclesiastes 7:8.) Impatience is the quality of the fearful and the resentful. Impatience is the forerunner of pride and the weakness of misunderstanding. Impatience is the art of despair and the barometer of doubt. Impatience is dead faith found in the barrenness of idleness. Impatience with God leads to self-pity. Self-pity, like impatience, may be considered to be a form of atheism. However, "Patience is faith in action." (New York Observer, New York, N.Y., June 10, 1907.)

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When we are going through some adversity in our lives, if we have a negative attitude in responding to our adversity, we are likely to magnify the adversity or enlarge the adversity, rather than seeking strength from God to endure the adversity. Negative attitudes may also result in giving in to temptations that would weaken our faith in Christ.

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Frank Francis wrote, “Adversity is a stimulant, if it does not reach the breaking point.” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, Jan. 6, 1935.) Adversity, if handled with a positive attitude, will motivate a man to win each contest of life and not join the down-and-out club.

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Robert E. Goodrich said, “Loyalty is love plus action.” (The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Feb. 13, 1928.) And H.W. Knickerbocker wrote, “To sympathize with a suffering friend is easier than to sympathize with a friend's success.” (Houston Post-Dispatch, Houston, Texas, Feb. 13, 1928.) Loyalty to a suffering friend is evidenced by our desire to show our friendship in action–that is, doing all we can to help him in enduring his suffering or helping him to overcome his adversity.

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H.B. Dean wrote, “It takes man working with God to always be capable of showing at attitude of love.” (Morning Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., May 12, 1956.) And Napoleon Hill wrote, “Defeat in some form inevitably overtakes each of us, at one time or another. ... Every adversely brings the seed of an equivalent benefits, often in some hidden form. From analysis of these facts it is not difficult to recognize that the Creator intends man to gain strength, understanding and wisdom through struggle. Adversity and defeat cause man to develop his wits and go forward. It is often difficult for us to recognize the potentiality of an equivalent benefit in our adversities while we are still suffering from the wounds. But TIME, the greatest of all healers, will disclose them to those who sincerely search for and BELIEVE they will find them.” (Houston Post, Houston, Texas, May 12, 1956.) It takes man working with God to always be capable of gaining strength, understanding and wisdom through struggle and also to recognize the benefits gains from overcoming adversity. Walking with God helps us gain strength to stay on His straight and narrow path and now allow discouragement to cause us to give up our walk with Him or become impatient with Him.

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J.H. Cosby wrote, “Patience goes hand in hand with self-control. He who has learned self-control has acquired patience.” (Religious Herald, Richmond, Va., June 10, 1943.) And Frank Francis wrote, “No suffering is more severe than that which breaks down the mental and leaves wreckage.” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, June 10, 1943.) Patience and self-control, built on a foundation of love of God and obedience to Him, can give us the power to endure tribulations and suffering in our lives. Without patience and self-control, a person can easily have his mental strength broken down and wrecked.

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Everett Dean Martin said, “Freedom is possible only in a society which calls out the best there is in men of varied kinds of ability. ... We see among us the easy optimism of moral irresponsibility, the narrow intolerance, the self-pity and apology for being alive, the cringing fear of the natural, the attempt to escape the inevitable consequences of our misdeeds by flattering or bribing a God to grant us indulgence in our want of will.” (The Register and Leader, Des Moines, Iowa, July 3, 1911.) And R.K. Porter said, “True liberty is not license. No man or set of men have a right to license any man or set of men to debauch manhood, enslave womanhood, blight childhood, no matter how high the license may be placed.” (The Register and Leader, Des Moines, Iowa, July 3, 1911.) True freedom is possible only in a society in which people to not use liberty as a license to enslave others in bad habits. The misuse of liberty comes out of moral irresponsibility and narrow intolerance and all kinds of indulgence, among other things. True freedom, founded on the principles of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the way to overcome these evils and alleviate the suffering of our fellowmen.

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Wesley S. Izzard wrote, “What is intellectual honesty? It is the instinct to decide for oneself what is right, and the courage to defend it unselfishly. A man who will compromise his convictions for personal or political gain is intellectually dishonest.” (Amarillo Daily News, Amarillo, Texas, Aug. 1, 1953.) And David O. McKay said, “The greatest man is he who chooses the right with invincible resolution, who resists the sorest temptations, from within or without; who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully; who is calmest in storms and persecutions, whose reliance upon God, upon virtue, upon truth, is most enduring.” (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 1, 1953.) The greatest man is he who has the spirituality to decide to do what is right and the courage to do it. Any man who will compromise his convictions to the principles of Jesus Christ is dishonest with God. The spiritually honest man resists temptations and relies upon God and His virtue and truth.

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A.J. Gearheard wrote, “The prodigal son was simply suffering for the want of character. When the great famines and failures of life come it is the man whose character is missing who lands in the swine pens.” (The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Aug. 5, 1923.) And George J. Weber wrote, “Character is not inherited nor can it be purchased. It is not made in a moment but is the result of conscious endeavor, and generally means a fight, a struggle, a warfare against forces without and within before it is truly achieved.” (Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, N.M., Aug. 5, 1923.) In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Matthew 15:11-32), the man “wasted his substance with riotous living” just before there “arose a mighty famine in that land.” As a result of the famine, “he began to be in want.” He began working in a job in which he was to feed swine. “And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” It of course was wonderful that the man “came to himself” and remembered the love and kindness of his father. Again, the greatest man is he who has the spirituality to decide to do what is right and the courage to do it. Again, any man who will compromise his convictions to the principles of Jesus Christ is dishonest with God. The prodigal son compromised his convictions to the will of God out of a want of character. Character is not made in a moment but is the result of hard work against the forces that oppose goodness and righteousness. It takes courageous endeavor to build character. The strongest man spiritually is not the man who “came to himself” when he was involved in “riotous living,” but rather the strongest man is he who resists the temptation to wander off the Lord’s straight and narrow path and remains strong in moving forward on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.

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Hugh McLellan said, “Carelessness and indifference sap the energies and dim the talents of the majority of men. ... There are several causes for this indifference. The first cause is spiritual laziness. Just as there are men physically lazy and mentally lazy, so there are men spiritually lazy. They are not spiritually impressionable and not spiritually enthusiastic. Another cause of this indifference is the overestimate which is put on material things. Money is valued more highly than character. Position is valued more highly than integrity. Things that are near are thought to be of more importance than things that are far off. Distance does not, in this instance, lead to enchantment; it really robs the things afar of their importance.” (San Antonio Daily Express, San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 12, 1910.) And Francis Burgette Short said, “Ingratitude always has some grief or grouch or kick. It never tries to count its blessings. It forgets its blessings and reads its diary of disappointments and losses and sufferings.” (Salt Lake Herald-Republican, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept.12, 1910.) Carelessness and indifference breed ingratitude. Those who are spiritually lazy do not count their blessings. Those who overestimate the importance of material things are consistently writing a diary of disappointments, thinking only of what they do not have rather than expressing gratitude for what they do have. Grouches do not have any spiritual enthusiasm. Gratitude is a fruit of spiritual enthusiasm. He who is filled with gratitude for his blessings from God expresses his spiritual enthusiasm in prayer. This spiritual enthusiasm empowers him to live more fully the principles of Jesus Christ.

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John Edward Carver said, “The grace of gratitude is one that makes us livable with our associates. Proud, haughty individuals do not make pleasurable companions. The realization of the wonderful love, mercy and fidelity of the living God and the ever strengthening companionship of Christ smother all personal pride and conceit. We are called to thanksgiving and praise for the tempering of our own egotism. All the urgings of God are for our own personal joy and strength. Did we see them rightly?” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, Nov. 21, 1938.) And Leon Merle Flanders said, “We shall be guilty of the basest of ingratitude if we do nothing to relieve the affliction and distress of our persecuted brethren. This day of sorrow and suffering for thousands of our fellowmen in other lands can be turned into a day of thanksgiving, by our prayers, sympathy and generosity." (New York Times, New York, N.Y., Nov. 21, 1938." Our prayers, sympathy and generosity make us pleasurable companions with our fellowmen. The development of a well-rounded character is impossible in a selfish life. Character is developed and grows through the power of humility coupled with true gratitude for the blessings we have received. True gratitude, in turn, motivates one to do good unto others, which replaces atttiudes of pride, conceit and selfishness. When we hear the Spirit of God urging us to do good, and follow the direction of the Spirit, our joy and happiness is increased and we become stronger spiritually.

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Peter A. Simpkin said, “It is gracious to remember love. The love remembrance and the love lights have been the beacons of all the way men have walked.” (Ogden Standard, Ogden, Utah, Dec. 6, 1909.) And James W. McClendon said, “That charity which is essentially an attribute of the human heart impels us to perform that which the promptings of heart teach to be righteousness, and to abstain from that which its promptings teach to be iniquity. That charity is long suffering, kind, gentle, unselfish, without envy, without malice, generous, pure. ... Charity likewise embraces all other cardinal virtues, for the even-handed decrees of justice should always be tempered with that degree of mercy which is born only of brotherly love.” (Austin Daily Statesman, Austin, Texas, Dec. 6, 1909.)

The graciousness of the memory of charity, in a true attitude of gratitude to God, motivates us to perform works of charity. The power of a good example indeed motivates others of an honest in heart character to follow the example.

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Henry Coe Culbertson wrote, “Every life is great or base, according to whether or not it is animated by a noble desire. Such an overwhelming desire for some worthy purpose can transfigure the plainest life in to glorious power.” (Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif., Jan. 28, 1924.) And W.A. MacKenzie wrote, “Life is a fertile field from which grows a golden harvest of happiness from tiny seeds of service which we plant.” (Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 28, 1924.) Life is a fertile field when righteous desires for worthy purposes fertilize the seeds of service, a field where man can reap a golden harvest of happiness.

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Ernest C. Wareing wrote, “Good intentions are like a wheelbarrow–because if you get anywhere with them you have to do the pushing yourself.” (Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. 3, 1927.) And F.C. McConnell wrote, “Responsibility keeps pace with opportunity. ... The spirit of service is the heart of stewardship.” (Baptist Message, Shreveport, La., Feb. 3, 1927.) Good intentions pushed forward in the wheelbarrow of responsibility on the path of service produce opportunities for the fulfillment of one’s stewardship.

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Frank L. Stanton wrote, “Don't sit down and wait for times to brighten, but rise up and turn on the light!” (The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 10, 1910.) And Pat M. Neff said, “The only correct standard for a Christian citizen to have is that of service. No man has a right to be absorbed and satisfied with himself. No man can separate himself from the throbbing world around him. The Bible standard of success and greatness is service. ... Service is the law of life. ... Every man owes a duty to every other man. Man is his brother’s keeper. ... A man’s greatness is measured not by the number who serve him, but by the number whom he serves.” (Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 10, 1910.) Don’t sit down and wait for somebody to serve you, but rise up and go to someone who needs your help. Greatness is not measured by how you are served but by how you serve others. The man who spends life absorbed in himself will not have the power to turn on the light of God’s happiness.

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James G. Keller wrote, “Our emotions were given to us by God for a purpose. If we use them correctly they will not be seething beneath the surface and causing those inner conflicts that leads to endless disturbances. he more our powers are put to the service of our fellowmen, the less they gnaw at our souls and eat away our bodies.” (Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Jan. 14, 1953.) And Oliver G. Wilson wrote, “Gentle words, like flowers, leave a fragrance in the hands of those who bestow them. Ugly, cruel words, like fire, leave a scar which time cannot erase.” (The Wesleyan Methodist, Syracuse, N.Y., Jan. 14, 1953.) Emotions disciplined by the power of gentleness will not leave ugly fragrances wherever we go. He who goes about disturbing the peace of other people’s lives only adds to his inner conflicts and leaves scars upon his character and reputation.

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Floyd Poe wrote, “The humble soul modestly estimates his own value. Proud and pretentious people can never appreciate unassuming simplicity. Humility of spirit is synonymous with high thinking, sanctifying everydayness.” (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 20, 1950.) And Phil Conley wrote, “The person who does not expect or look for rewards for doing good, aside from the satisfaction he receives for having contributed to the welfare of others, will live long after his death. No good act is ever lost.” (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., Feb. 20, 1950.) The humble soul sanctifies his life by doing good without expectation of rewards. He recognizes the value of contributing to the welfare of others through simple, everyday acts of kindness and service that glorify God.

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J. Wilbur Chapman wrote, “Kindness is one of the most valuable assets in a man's disposition. It will settle more difficulties, lift more burdens, right more wrongs than almost anything else. The man who sins is unkind to himself in that he makes it impossible to realize his highest ideals. He is unkind to his friends, because he can never be the best to them when his powers are running towards evil. He is unkind to God, because He has offered an escape from weakness and failure, which man has rejected.” (The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., March 13, 1915.) And B.H. Roberts said, “Do things pleasantly, and you will have double pleasure in them; a pleasure in the thing that you do and in the manner that you do it.” (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 13, 1915.) True kindness always comes from a pleasant disposition. Righteousness is kindness to one’s self. Kindness to one’s fellowmen is synonymous with kindness to God. Obedience to God’s will and commandments is also kindness to God. Unselfish service to one’s fellowmen is a double pleasure–a pleasure in the helpfulness plus the pleasure of doing it in a manner pleasing unto God and directed by His Spirit.

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Henry Alford Porter said, “Service is the evidence of faith, the sign of salvation.” (The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., April 10, 1916.) And Frank Crane wrote, “Nothing so coarsens us, so takes the edge off our finer instincts, as egotism.” (The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., April 10, 1916.) Selfishness is the evidence of egotism, the sign of damnation. Nothing so builds spiritual refinement and sharpens the spiritual desires, as service.

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J. Leland Behunin wrote, “The quality of joy runs parallel with the standard of service. The man who serves best is always happiest. His joy is measured by the quality of his service. Then to increase and improve the quality of service should be the aim of all.” (Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, June 18, 1925.) And Rufus W. Weaver wrote, “Love, purified, ennobled, transfigured, pervading the whole personality, is the most important factor in the discovery of truth and in giving to us the true interpretation of life, and of life, and of the world in which we live.” (Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., June 18, 1925.) The highway of joy is the highway of service. The man who serves best is the man who travels farthest on the highway of joy. His quality of service is pure and noble, and his personality is contagious for good in the world. He discovers the spiritual or eternal truths as he travels the highway of service and gains a deeper and deeper understanding of the purposes of God.

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Vernald William Johns said, “One’s capacity to make and keep friends may determine his capacity to serve mankind and largely does determine the joy he derives from life. One’s greatness, in a very real sense, depends on one’s capacity for friendship.” (Garland Times, Garland, Utah, Jan. 18, 1935. And Roy L. Smith wrote, “The only way to meet friendship is to meet it with sincerity.” (Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Jan. 18, 1935.) The capacity to make and keep friends is based on the desire to serve mankind with sincerity, and to sincerely appreciate all that our friends do to serve us.

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J.H. Funderburg wrote, “We have the habit of saying that we love God, maybe that is true, but did we ever stop to think that "God is love"? He does not need our little bit, the love we try to give Him in the abstract, is thrown away. What He needs is distributors of love. There is nothing else in human life which suffers so much from faulty distribution as love. Let us be mediums for Him, through which His love may reach and warm the coldest hearts.” (Lake Charles American Press, Lake Charles, La., Jan. 25, 1936.) And Roy L. Smith wrote, “The chief ingredients of friendship are sympathy, understanding and forgiveness.” (Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Jan. 25, 1936.) God needs distributors of His love in the channels of sympathy, understanding and forgiveness. Friendship with our fellowmen is friendship with God, because to love God is to love our fellowmen.

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William Warren Landrum said, “So long as [we] exhibit unwearied consecration to the fundamental principles of friendship, charity and benevolence, so long as [we] are men with clear minds, warm hearts, pure consciences, and resolute wills, ... every sun that shines will illume a world made brighter and happier because of [our] good deeds and upright character.” (The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 17, 1908.) And J. Benjamin Lawrence stated, “How do we know that the heart is pure? By the pure life. A sweet fountain cannot send forth bitter water. ... It is vain to prate of inward experience if the outward life is not free from impurity, dishonesty and sin. Those who draw near to God must have clean hands.” (The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, La., Feb. 17, 1908.) Those who draw near to the sunshine of God’s love are those who have pure hearts and who make the world brighter and happier through upright character and through good deeds of true friendship, charity and benevolence.

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David M. Gardner wrote, “Loyalty with a price tag on it is a pretense and is too high at any price. ... Love for and loyalty to principles of right are qualities of character that cannot be bought as a commodity in the marketplace or turned on and off like a faucet.” (Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 4, 1954.) Friendship based on true loyalty grows in value as the years go by. A man who is loyal to his friend will not risk the friendship with the pretense of a price tag on it. Friendship’s value is based on the principles of character.

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Bryant S. Hinckley wrote, “One of the essentials of a sound religion is to lay upon the hearts of its adherents the obligation to deal justly with all men. This helps one to be a good father, a kind husband, a loyal citizen. It means to live within one’s income, to take no undue advantages, to bear one’s burdens, to honor one’s work; in short, to do what is right. The world is greatly in need of this. This is the phase of religion taught in the Ten Commandments and elevated and reinforced in the Golden Rule.” (Millennial Star, London, England, March 4, 1937.) True friendship is based on a foundation of the Ten Commandments. The Golden Rule is the reinforcing power of true friendship. A true friend does not take advantage of his friends; rather, he will do all he can to ease the burdens of his friends, dealing justly with them.

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George Albert Smith said, “The only assurance we have of safety is on the score of righteousness. There is no other way.” (Millennial Star, London, England, March 7, 1940.) The only assurance we have of true friendship is confidence between friends, a confidence resting on the safety of trust.

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Phil Conley wrote, “If you do not share your joy, you lose it. No happiness is worth having that is not worth giving to others.” (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., April 15, 1948.) Happiness and joy do not remain with us when we become casual in our relationship with our family and indifferent in our relations with our friends. True gratitude for our family and friends is shown in sharing our joy and happiness with them and meeting their needs through the power of the compassion of Christ.

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Roy L. Smith wrote, “Friendliness is the best salesmanship.” (Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., April 27, 1936.) And Nephi L. Morris said, “In a general sense, character is the possession of certain qualities that distinguish the individual. He is known for something. He is true to an idea or a principle. ... Character is operative in everything a man does–for himself or for others. ... The absence of character is the stuff which cowards are made of.” (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 27, 1935.) True friendship, based on a desire to be honest in our relationships with others, is great spiritual collateral which speaks for itself.

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John E. Carlisle wrote, “Petty jealousies embitter friendships, warp the character, and create an unrest in confidence.” (Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, July 21, 1890.) A great thought from a newspaper editorial page is this: “Try to turn up something, but do not turn up the wrong thing.” (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, July 21, 1890.) Try to turn up something good when observing the lives of your fellowmen, but do not turn up the wrong things–that is, do not turn up things motivated by petty jealousies.

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William Jennings Bryan wrote, “The spirit of forgiveness is the most difficult of the virtues. Revenge is natural and people want it. But it is the teaching of the Prince of Peace that men are to love even their enemies.” (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 2, 1949.) And Floyd Poe wrote, “There are many people with whom we have had misunderstandings who would again like to enter the door of our friendship and do not because they feel the door is closed. Forgiveness is not simply assuming in our minds a kindly attitude toward the offender, it is also opening the door for him to enter into our lives.” (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 2, 1949.) Revenge is not just carrying on an unkind attitude toward another person; it is also closing the door that prevents him from entering into our lives through the door of friendship.

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Norman W. Cox wrote, “Character is composed of the spiritual element, called our life, that represents the moral and spiritual content of one's soul. One's character always is his attitude and choices.” (Baptist Record, Jackson, Miss., Sept. 10, 1942.) Friendship is honorable when it is based on a foundation of character. True friendship cannot exist when one tries to profit materially from the association. True friendship is, rather, a reciprocal relationship in which everyone does all possible to build up the others and make the others happy.

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Bert Moses wrote, “The real value of a friendship is not fully appreciated until it is lost.” (Lake Charles American Press, Lake Charles, La., Oct. 8, 1942.) And Roy L. Smith wrote, “It is always easier to be wasteful than it is to be generous.” (Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., Oct. 8, 1942.) The real value of a friendship is fully appreciated when there is reciprocal generosity. One-sided or one-way friendship is not true friendship. It parasitical, the opposite of generosity.

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Roy L. Smith wrote, “A friend is one who trusts you in spite of your explanations.” (Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., Oct. 16, 1947.) True friendship is based on a foundation of character and trust. True friendship does not depend on explanations but on actions. If our thoughts are stale toward a friend, our actions will show the spoilage.

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James G. Keller wrote, “Through the ages, men who have made a lasting contribution to the general welfare of humanity have realized that their powers came from God alone, and have turned to Him for inspiration and succor.” (Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 11, 1953.) And Floyd Poe wrote, “Whether life is worth living depends upon friendships. The poorest man in the world is one who has no friends. ... Friendship and love are intertwined. Friendship is like this: We love one another regardless of faults.” (Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 11, 1953.)

The power of true friendship with our fellowmen comes from God and from God alone. We become a friend of Christ through obedience to His will, for Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. ... I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:14-15.)

Jesus, through His love for us, wants to make known unto us all the truths and principles that He heard from God the Father. We make a lasting contribution to the welfare of humanity when we, in turn, want to make known the truths and principles of Jesus Christ, making them known unto others by the way we live, by the way we serve.

When we love our fellowmen regardless of his faults and by the power of the Spirit of the Lord we will do all we can to help him overcome his weaknesses. Yes, friendship and love are indeed intertwined.

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A.A. Ettleson said, “To relieve distress is always a capital virtue, to do it without ostentation, without the glare of publicity, is a refinement of this virtue which puts it on a nobler plane. ... We still have to vanquish selfishness, greed and jealousy. The kindly deed, the gentle word, and still more gentle silence will go far to soothe the heartaches of life.” (Austin Daily Statesman, Austin, Texas, Dec. 4, 1905.) And Moore Sanborn said, “In service for others is found the seal of solidarity.” (The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 4, 1905.)

The dictionary definition of solidarity is “coherence and oneness in nature, relations, or interests.” And the definition of cohere is “to stick or hold firmly together.” In the unostentatious service for others we find the firmness of Christlike character. To serve without seeking reward or publicity is to put our lives on a higher plane of spirituality, to become one with Christ in thought and action. Not only do we find firmness of character, but we do our part to vanquish selfishness, greed and jealousy, helping those around us to “hold firmly together” in friendship and love.

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Hugh B. Brown wrote, “Carry the oil of humor and [do] not allow old friendships to wear out for lack of lubrication. ... Go forward with a smile, believing in a happy and triumphant future.” (Millennial Star, London, England, Dec. 30, 1937.) And Roy L. Smith wrote, “There is no time when cynicism is a hopeful state of mind.” (Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Dec. 30, 1937.) There is no time when cynicism is a sense of humor. A righteous sense of humor lubricates the lives of others with smiles, happiness and hope. There is no lubricating power in trying to disguise negative attitudes with a sense of humor. An unrighteous sense of humor destroys friendship, destroys trust and loyalty.

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True friendship inspires sympathy unto others. Friendship without sympathy is not true friendship. True friendship include the spirit Christlike compassion.

True friendship includes the urgent desire to seize upon the present when one is prompted by the Holy Ghost to help or serve others. True friendship does not procrastinate the performing of an act of service prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Friendship takes hold firmly of the future with intensity. Remembering that friendship includes the spirit of sympathy and the desire to be of service to others, we can understand, then, that true friendship includes an intense desire to bless and uplift the lives of others, that their future will be one filled with happiness and peace.

Through the power of true friendship, enmity, malice, hatred and past differences, and misunderstandings can be overcome by the power of hope. Enmity, hatred and misunderstanding are overcome by the power of hope based upon faith in Christ and a hope or a confidence that his promises will be fulfilled.

The spirit of friendship is increased by the power of humility. When we are humble before Christ, worthy of having the Holy Spirit with us, we will have the voice of inspiration to prompt us to uplift our fellowmen through service, encouragement, kindness and compassion.

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"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly." (Proverbs 18:24.) In other words, friendship inspires friendship. True friendship is reciprocal. One of the definitions of reciprocal is "mutually interchangeable or corresponding." True friendship means that each individual builds up the other, each individual is always seeking to help, uplift or encourage the other.

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True friendship is the gift of appreciation combined with the gift of helpfulness.

True friendship is the ideal of confidence combined with the ideal of integrity.

True friendship is a combination of seeing the best in each another and motivating the best in each other.

True friendship is sacrifice plus cheerfulness.

True friendship is trust plus loyalty.

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Nephi Jensen wrote, “Faith is the soul’s grip on truth.” (Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 30, 1928.) And H.W. Knickerbocker wrote, “Love doubles your personality for it enables you to see with the eyes of the loved one.” (Houston Post Dispatch, Houston, Texas, Jan. 30, 1928.) True friendship–loyalty founded on love–enables you to see truthfully through the eyes of your friend.

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Gloria Young wrote, “You cannot be false to God and friends and have a reward of honest fidelity in fellowship and work. The treacherous provoke treachery.” (Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, May 1, 1941.) And Roy L. Smith wrote, “Never think of anything as being of advantage which tempts you down from your best.” (Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., May 1, 1941.) You cannot take advantage of your friends and expect a reward of honest fidelity in fellowship. You cannot be true to God when you give in to temptations which take you down from your best. You cannot be true to a friend when you tempt him to do something that lowers his standards or destroys his character.

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Phil Conley wrote, “Friends are not inherited, not traded like stocks, not bought and sold. They are earned by merit. They can be acquired only by careful cultivation and sincere effort. And the more difficult a friend is to obtain, the more valuable he becomes.” (The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., May 3, 1948.) And Mark E. Petersen said, “The wages of sin is death, but the wages of righteousness is happiness. The receipt for happiness is in keeping the commandments of God. God’s commandments are not a lot of restrictions. They are instructions on how to live successfully.” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, May 3, 1948.) The true friends–the truest friends–are they who are earned through the wages of righteousness. True friends are they who make us happiest because they help us obey the commandments of God. These are the friends who become more and more valuable as time goes on, because they have helped us to live successfully according to the laws of God.

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B.D. Gray said, “Integrity is the very core of character and loyalty is the crown of conduct.” (Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., July 7, 1938.) And Gloria Young wrote, “Character is formed by adopting small parts of many friends.” (Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, July 7, 1938.) Character is formed by a loyalty to friends based on a foundation of integrity. Look for the good qualities in your friends and emulate those qualities. A true friend helps others become better people. He who is continually finding fault with others cannot develop true friendship.

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Roy L. Smith wrote, “Very few people ever become happy because they have a gift for finding fault.” (Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., Sept. 17, 1942.) Very few people ever make new friends because they have the gift of finding fault. It is easier to grow the weeds of faultfinding than the flowers of appreciation.

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Gloria Young wrote, “The greatest economy in the world is the saving of one's friends.” (Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 31, 1939.) And Lucile P. Burnett wrote, “Service is making Christ known in your community–through your acts of kindness and mercy.” (Baptist Record, Jackson, Miss., Aug. 31, 1939.) The saving of one’s friends is done through the gold of kindness and mercy. The love of Christ is truly the foundation of true friendship as well as energizing service in the community. The greatest peace-making mission is service in your community, making Christ known through your kindness and mercy.

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A true friend will defend his friend against gossip, slander, evil speaking, character assassination and false accusations. When someone gossips to you about one of your friends, what do you do? Do you defend the character and reputation of your friend? Will you ask the people to quit gossiping about the man, telling them that what they said about your friend is untrue? It is a challenge to be a peacemaker when we hear people gossip about a friend, but if we are to be a true friend, we must defend him with an attitude of peace toward those who gossiped about him.

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