Witness 89 Christian Lessons:  Treasure Friends

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”   Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.´  Luke 6:31

“Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.”   Proverbs 27:10

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  John 15:15

Overview

It is so important to treat your friends properly.  As the Bible Verses suggest, we should treat our friends better than we expect them to treat us.  Having friends that you can trust in many situations is as important as family members. 

Sometimes it seems challenging to support a friend when they are not doing everything they can for you.  However, during the time when you really need another person to be there for you, you appreciate the friendships you developed. 

Many people help others for the majority of their lives because they care about their friends.  Then a time comes when they rely on friendships to help them through challenges.  We all need to be available when our friends are in need.

My Experience

I had two very special friends in my life.  One friend, Ray, was a fellow football player on my high school team.  We were close friends and provided support for each other.  We lived about 500 miles from each other after we completed high school.  I stayed in touch with Ray until we were over forty years old.  Then I became too involved with my business life and stopped contacting him.  He stopped contacting me as well.

My second special friend was Mark.  I met Mark about a year after I started my business.  We were both the same age, twenty-six.  Mark had some financial challenges, so I helped him with a steady income.  We became great friends for many years.  Mark actually lived at my house and provided a lot of help in my business.  I loaned Mark some money to purchase a car.  A couple of years later Mark became sick and moved to Oregan to live with his brother.  I asked Mark to pay me for the car.  He said that he already paid me through the company.  We got into an argument and Mark left. 

I was not in touch with either Ray or Mark for a couple of years.  Then I reviewed the accounting for my company to prepare for a tax return and I discovered that Mark did pay me for the car.  I felt so awful.  I tried to call Mark, but the number had been disconnected.  I found his brother’s phone number and called the brother.  Mark’s brother told me that Mark died three months earlier.  I was devasted.  I treated Mark so poorly and now it was too late.

Then I tried to call my friend Ray and learned from his sister that he had been very sick the past seven years and that he died a few months earlier.  Ray did not contact me because he was too ill.  I was devasted by both friendships at about the same time. 

I should have treated them properly even though I thought Mark owed me money and I thought Ray just quit contacting me.  If I treated them properly, we would have all had a better life.  It is so important to develop friendships and keep them.

Summary

Sometimes it may seem like maintaining friendships is too much effort.  I can assure you that it is important to always support your friends even if you think they are not supporting you at the moment.  Please do not do what I did and neglect one of your most important assets, friends.

Witness 88 Christian Lessons:  Do not be lazy

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23

“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.” Proverbs 12:24

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” Colossians 3:23

“If a man will not work, neither let him eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper” Proverbs 18:4

“Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work” Proverbs 21:25

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Overview

Being lazy is harmful to the person being lazy and all the people affected by that person’s lack of effort.  Sometimes people expect other people to do everything for them, yet they do not support anyone else. 

It is important to pay attention to the help you receive and note how much effort you make to support other people.  This concept is true with work, family, friends, and general situations.

A good start to avoiding being lazy is to observe yourself during the day and note how many times other people do things for you that you could have done for yourself.  In some cases, it makes sense that other people do work because the other person has the skills, tools, or knowledge required.  However, you will find that many times you could have supported yourself.

Then observe how often you help someone else.  As you conduct your planning, you can allow for tasks that support other people.  Again this works for your personal life as well as work. 

After making an effort to make good use of your time and support other people, you will begin to accomplish more, and other people will appreciate your effort and probably do more to support you.

Example

Henry was a member of a volunteer organization that received clothing, household supplies, and some furniture that the organization gave away to people in need.  Henry was a successful business owner and had a large staff of people who worked for him. 

When Henry spent volunteer time at the charity center he expected everyone else to do all the work and he planned to manage the facility.  However, there were not enough volunteers to have people who just told others what to do.  It did not take long for people to resent Henry.  The tension kept getting greater to the point where Henry felt resentment and did not understand why the other people felt that way.

Henry talked with his wife about the tension.   She asked him a lot of questions and she quickly realized that Henry was treating everyone like they were employees of his company.  She explained her thoughts to him and asked how he would like it if someone treated him that way when he was a volunteer.  His wife told him to do some of the work for himself and see how it changes the attitudes of other people.  She said, especially if you can help some of the other people with their tasks.

Henry tried his wife’s suggestion.  After a couple of weeks, everyone began to notice a major change in Henry.  As they all worked together, they accomplished much more, and they felt much better about each other.

Summary

We need to dedicate time to review what we are doing and how we are affecting other people.  We should do as much as we can to support ourselves while noticing how we can support other people.  The results of making the effort will improve your life and the lives of those people around you.

Witness 87 Christian Lessons:  Forgive Others

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15

Overview

It always feels good when you are forgiven for something you did that hurt someone else.  Even if you are very unhappy about something that person did.  When you forgive another person for something they did to you, it releases you from the stress of the situation and allows you to move forward without feeling the pain caused by the other person. The other person may not change their attitude toward you, but you will move on knowing that you did not cause more harm to the situation.   

On the other hand, sometimes forgiving another person causes the other person to think positively about you and leads to positive experiences.

Example

Randy with his customers

Bill is a website developer who supports wholesale businesses.  Bill creates features for wholesale websites that make it easier for customers to identify, purchase, and pay for products and services.  He specializes in creating websites that display products with high-quality descriptions and generate high google ratings.

Randy manages a company that sells business system software with an integrated wholesale website.  Frequently, Randy contracts Bill to improve the quality of the integrated website. 

One of Randy’s customers complained to him that the website was displaying the wrong prices for some customers.  Randy told the customer that Bill was responsible for all displays on the website and the customer needed to contact Bill. 

The customer was so upset that they entered negative reviews of Bill’s company on several service review websites.  The negative reviews had a major impact on Bill’s business. 

When Bill reviewed the website, he learned that the issue was not with the website at all.  The pricing assigned to the customers was created in the base system and accessed by the website.  Bill was so angry with Randy that he was going to drop him as a client and send a message to all the previous customers regarding the incident with incorrect pricing.

Prior to sending any messages, Bill attended a Bible Study class that covered the Book of Matthew, Chapter 6.  He thought about the situation and then talked with his wife.  They decided that Bill’s initial reaction was not good for him, the customer, or Randy.  After discussing the details with his wife, he decided to call Randy and discuss the entire episode. 

Bill called Randy and explained to him that the issue was with the base system, not the website.  Bill said that he understood how Randy made the mistake and he was OK that Randy made a mistake. Bill said he wanted to work together to always provide the best service for the customers.

Randy was so impressed with Bill that he called the customer and convinced him to send a retraction to the websites where the negative reviews were posted. 

Both Bill and Randy benefited from Bill taking more time before reacting to a negative situation. 

Summary

Of course, the outcome will not always be as positive as the one with Bill and Randy.  However, following Christian Lessons as a guide for personal and business relationships will reduce your stress. 

Witness 85 Christian Lessons:  Be generous to others

“The crowd kept asking him, “What then are we supposed to do?” John told them, “Give food to the hungry, clothe the poor, and bless the needy.” Luke 3:10-11

“Give generously and generous gifts will be given back to you, shaken down to make room for more. Abundant gifts will pour out upon you with such an overflowing measure that it will run over the top! Your measurement of generosity becomes the measurement of your return.” Luke 6:38

“Take a constant interest in the needs of God’s beloved people and respond by helping them. And eagerly welcome people as guests into your home.”  Romans 12:13

Overview

During horrifying times like we have today with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the concept of helping the people of Ukraine is present among most of us.  When we look at the world, it is clear that everyone benefits when all the countries are stable.  Most countries depend on each other to support a stable life for all their people.

The same concept is true of local communities.  The homeless population, high unemployment, inflated prices, and shortage of food and clothing affect everyone in the community. 

When a high percentage of the population in a community makes an effort to help the needy people, everyone benefits.  Not only are more people productive and contributing to the community, but the quality of life for the entire community is improved when the people who live in the community are able to support themselves.

Of course, there are situations where the needy people request support and then use that support to buy drugs or alcohol.  Limiting support to giving money to people is not always the best answer to support the community.

Example

Bill searching for support groups

Bill works at the headquarters of a large bank in Los Angeles.  He walks a few blocks from the parking lot to his building every time he goes to work in the morning and when he goes back to his car after work.  Almost every day a few people approach him on the sidewalk.  They tell him they are hungry and need his help. 

At first, he ignored the people who approached him.  One night he thought about all those people who need help.  He realized that if a small percent of the population helped those people, it would help the whole community. 

After thinking about helping people, Bill decided to make sure he had cash with him when he came to work in the morning.  He started giving some of the people some money.  After a week, he wondered how the people used the money he gave them.  He made an effort to follow a couple of them and discovered that they purchased alcohol or drugs.  This bothered Bill.  He still wanted to help people but did not wish to support their bad habits.  After spending a week thinking about the situation he decided to purchase certificates from Mcdonald’s and other fast-food facilities so he knew the people would get actual food.  

After trying that approach he found that some of the people used the certificates to get food, but a few of them just discarded the certificates. 

Bill realized that the certificates helped one part of the needy population, but he needed help to support the people who were addicted to drugs, alcohol or had mental challenges. 

Bill visited facilities that helped people with addictions.  Soon he developed an approach to greet people with additions and provide some help providing them information about where to get help.  Meanwhile, he continued to give the certificates to many people.

Summary

There are many ways we can help needy people. It may take some effort to find a way that will work for different groups of people.  There are plenty of organizations that support the people of Ukraine.  We can send money to those organizations.  However, helping people in our own community requires a different kind of effort.  If we make that effort, we will all benefit.

Witness 86 Christian Lessons:  Do not love money

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” Proverbs 11:4

“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Proverbs 13:11

Overview

Focusing too much time on gaining wealth will cause one to miss many positive aspects of life.  Many people spend the majority of their lives gaining more wealth and, in most cases, they die before they can benefit from all that work.

When people are dedicated to the accumulation of wealth, some people spend the majority of their time working to increase their finances or in other cases, they sacrifice their honesty to take advantage of other people. 

In either case, they sacrifice many benefits from life to gain wealth they will not enjoy.

My Experience

My best example of people who did not focus on money was my grandparents (my father’s parents).  They made family their first priority.  My grandparents lived about a two-hour drive from the house where I lived during my childhood.  Our family traveled to my grandparents four or five times a year.  We went there for special occasions like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthdays.  During the major holidays, all the family would celebrate together.  I remember Thanksgiving Dinners with more than fifty people.  Everyone was always so happy. 

When any family member had challenges, financial or otherwise, my grandmother would work with the other family members to address the challenge. 

When I was an adult, I drove to my grandparents with my children one Christmas.  I did not make this trip often because I lived far from my grandparents’ house. We had a wonderful time.  It was good for my children to experience the importance of working together.  However, when I began driving my family home I was involved in an accident about an hour’s drive from my grandparent’s house.  No one was injured, but my car was damaged.  My grandmother called one of my aunts and they immediately drove to the scene of the accident and supported us.  I was so grateful.  My children never forgot how supportive my family was.

That was my father’s family.  On the other hand, my grandparents on my mother’s side were just the opposite.  They focused on gaining wealth.  My mother was often in conflict with her older sister.  My sister and I visited my mother’s parents many times.  They were nice to us, but it was never the same feeling as my other grandparents.  It was very clear that gaining wealth overwhelmed everything else.

I loved both grandparents, but I feel much closer to my father’s family. 

Summary

We need to focus some attention on supporting ourselves, but when money is the top priority, many important parts of life suffer. When we help others, it promotes a culture that helps too. 

Witness 84 Christian Lessons:  Keep Your Word

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” – Ephesians 4:25

“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”  – Matthew 5:37

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12

Overview

Being honest with all encounters with other people will benefit everyone.  There are so many occasions when it seems that hiding the truth by providing lengthy explanations, or misleading people without actually lying is the best choice.  Not only does misleading people cause challenges, but you must also feel the guilt of knowing you were dishonest. 

It takes strength in character to simply give direct honest answers to difficult situations, but the long-term effect of being direct and honest is much more positive. 

Sometimes we believe we are being kind to someone when we mislead them in an effort to save them pain.  However, often the consequences of the person learning the truth are much more painful than if they knew the truth originally.

Example

Bob meeting with a customer

Bob owned a software company that sold business applications to wholesale companies.  Bob knew that maintaining a good relationship with his customers was critical to his business.  One of his customers reported a challenge with processing a couple of transactions.  Bob knew the cause of the challenge right away, but he did not want the customer to know that the software was the reason for the problem.  Instead of telling the customer that there is a problem with the application, and it must be fixed, Bob told the customer that there was a problem with the transactions his company entered, and they needed to enter reversing transactions to balance the numbers. 

The customer said he would enter the reversing transactions and the customer thanked Bob for his help. 

Then two months later Bob held a conference with all his customers to show them the new version of the software.  During the breaks, the customers talked with each other.   The customers discovered that four of them had the same issue with processing transactions.  All four customers were told their transactions were the cause of the challenge. 

Not only did the customers lose any trust in the owner, but they also communicated the issue to all the other customers.  The loss to the business from Customers switching to other applications was devastating. 

If Bob had been honest in the beginning and taken the time to repair the application, the affected customers would probably have stayed with the software and had respect for Bob.

Summary

Sometimes it seems easier to hide the truth or mislead someone than to explain a situation.  However, when you analyze this process over a long period of time, it is much better to be direct and honest in the beginning and you will feel better about yourself.

Witness 83 Christian Lessons:  Do not attack other denominations

“John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.’ Jesus replied, ‘Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.’” — Mark 9:38-40

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism” – Ephesians 4:4-5

Overview

It is easy to criticize other churches for specific interpretations of scripture or for expressing details of their beliefs.  If our main objective is to inform as many people as possible about Christian Lessons, then detailed disputes about specific Bible Verses should not take away from communicating with more people.

This does not mean overlooking statements that are against Christian Principles.  We should be united in our efforts to reach as many people as possible while maintaining our fundamental beliefs.  It is assumed that all Christian Churches believe in fundamental Christian Lessons.  That is what unites us as Christians. 

My Experience

I am grateful to my mother and father who raised me as a Christian.  During my childhood, we moved to different cities several times.  We joined new churches each time.  All the Churches we attended were Christian Churches, but they were of different denominations.  Some were Baptist Churches, some were non-denominational, two were Lutheran Churches, and I am now a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. 

Although I attended over twenty different Churches in my life, I believe the basic concepts were shared by all of them.  I am very happy with the Seventh Day Adventist Church because of its commitment to living by Christian teaching, the inspirational support from the entire membership, the resources for Bible Study, and the closeness of the entire congregation. 

However, I believe all Christian Churches are united in their effort to help people in need, deliver the Christian Message, and reach as many people as possible.  I am a Christian who is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Summary

It is important to remember that our objective is to help people in need and promote the Christian Message.  We must work together among all Christian Churches to reach as many people as possible and to help those people in need.  We are not competing among ourselves.

Witness 82 Christian Lessons:  Help Others

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” — Galatians 6 – 2,3

“Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” – Matthew 5 – 42

Overview

These two verses talk about helping those people who need help.  Sometimes helping needy people means more than giving to a charity once in a while.  Your help may come from spending time to help someone you know.  It is important to make sure when you help a friend, that the friend does not feel obligated to you.  You are not helping if you expect something in return. 

Jesus said that you should give anonymously when possible.  That way the needy person you help does not feel the pressure of repaying your gift every time they see you.  It is not always possible to give anonymously, but at least make it clear that the person you helped does not owe you.

My Experience

I grew up in a small town in Northern California called Paradise.   Many of my friends from my childhood continued to live in Paradise.  Three years ago, there was a major fire that burned down most of the town.  Almost 7,000 homes were lost.  The home where I grew up was completely burned to the ground. 

I left Paradise before I graduated from high school, but I stayed in touch with many of my friends.  When I heard about the fire I called one of my closest friends and asked him how everyone was doing.   He told me that most of my friends completely lost their homes.  He said they still did not wish to leave Paradise.  In many cases, they rented travel trailers and lived in trailers until they could re-build.  The inspections could take one to two years because the public buildings had priority.  This was an awful situation for my friends.  I asked how I could help even though I am not wealthy. 

My friend told me that the help they needed the most was items that could help them live until their house was rebuilt.  Dishes, knives, small furniture, etc. 

I talked with my wife about it.  We decided to purchase gift cards from Lowes.  There was a large Lowes store in Chico, only thirteen miles from Paradise.  We gave the gift cards to my friend.  My friend gave the cards to other people so they would not know the cards came from me. 

I made a trip to Paradise and met with many of my friends during the high school reunion.  It was so nice that no one knew the souse of the gift cards except the friend that helped me.  During my conversations with my friends, I knew my friends were not meeting with me of obligation.

Summary

Helping the needy can mean helping those people close to you.  You will find that your friendship can be much stronger if there is no obligation for support.  When you review your life you will find that getting credit for the good things you do is not as important as doing what you can to make a stronger difference for people in need.

Witness 81 Christian Lessons:  Be Loving to your enemies

Love your enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?” — Matthew 5:44-47

Overview

When you are challenged or criticized by someone, the initial thought is to criticize them.   It takes a much better person to respond positively when insulted.  It is amazing how strongly an enemy is affected by a considerate response.  In some cases, an enemy can be converted into a good friend and be a positive part of your life.

This does not mean that every enemy can be converted to a friend, but it does mean that you are a much better person for trying and you have a chance to develop good relationships with some of your enemies.

Example

John talking with a former enemy

John was a college student studying business administration at the University of Southern California.  He worked hard to get accepted at the university and he wanted to develop as many business relationships as he could so he would have many choices of employment when he completed his college study.

John was required to make many presentations in front of his classes.  During these presentations, there were a few students who consistently interrupted him and attacked the points he was making.  When interrupted by other students, he would immediately respond with remarks that made the other student’s point seem ridiculous. 

After a while, John noticed that he was having challenges finding other students to work with him on projects.  He met with his student advisor because he was concerned about his progress at the university.  The advisor listened to him and asked questions that revealed the issue with the students who verbally attacked him during presentations.  The advisor suggested that he respond positively to a negative comment.  The advisor said to then pause and let the other student react.  John was not excited about the suggestion but decided to try.

There was not an immediate change in the atmosphere when John did a presentation, but John continued to be positive when someone made a negative comment and he tried to see the other student’s point. 

After a couple of weeks, several of the students who verbally attacked him stopped making the attacks and a few of them began to support John.

John realized that by being supportive of his enemies he benefited and so did they.  Some of those friendships lasted many years and helped everyone.

Summery

This message does not mean to let people take advantage of you or hurt you.  It does mean that just because someone else is treating you with disrespect, does not mean you have to be like that person.  You can maintain your values regardless of the behavior of other people.  Your life will improve from treating everyone properly.

Witness 80 Christian Lessons:  Do not brag

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2

“But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” James 4:16

Overview

These two verses make the point that we should not boast about ourselves.  Our objectives should be to help those people around us, not promote ourselves.   Sometimes we are motivated to make ourselves look good to others to gain job promotions, elevate our status among our friends, to impress others, or just to make ourselves look good. 

If you focus on helping other people and not worry about credit, other people will notice your efforts.  If you focus on helping other people rather than praising yourself, you will not only communicate praise for someone else, but you may earn respect from the people you helped and other people who observed your effort.

Example

Sam and Judy talking

Sam was a high school football player who wanted a football scholarship to a major university.  He worked hard at practice and studied his team’s playbook in an effort to make sure he would be chosen to start the first game.  Every time he made a good play in practice, he told everyone about it several times. 

After a week, the other players began to lose respect for Sam.  Sam felt he was not given credit for his effort.  He continued to work hard and communicate his accomplishments to the other players.  His teammates began to avoid him. 

Sam talked with his older sister, Judy about his situation.  She told him that he needed to make the success of the team his priority, not his scholarship or his status among the team members.  Judy told Sam to find ways to help the other players and communicate about the team’s success, not himself.  She told him that helping the team play better will help them win games.  This will lead to a better chance of receiving scholarship offers.  She told him that if he helped the other players and avoided talking about himself, the other players will support him.  Supporting others is much more important than receiving credit for every good play.

Sam thought about what Judy told him.  He decided to change his approach.  One point Judy made that was very important was that he needed to be sincere, do not help the other players for selfish reasons, but help them for the team.

Sam immediately began to help the other players and communicate when he thought someone else made a good play.  The other players responded after a couple of weeks.  Not only did Sam get his scholarship, but he applied the concept to everything else in his life.  He never felt the need to promote himself.

Summary

Boasting about your accomplishments will hurt you in the long run.  When you focus on the accomplishments of others, you will receive plenty of credit and you will develop valuable friendships.  Credit from others is much more valuable than claiming your own credit.