Posts Tagged ‘hard choices’

Profit and Loss

February 20th, 2013

 “I consider everything a loss compared to . .  knowing Christ.” Philippians 3:8 NIV.

Don’t settle for what is merely acceptable; require of yourself what is admirable.

A business owner only knows how well or how poorly they are doing after considering both their profits and losses. It’s pretty simple really; everything is either a profit or a loss. It is very important to understand which is which. I think the same is true of life. Socrates, a Greek philosopher (469-399 BC), said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

The Apostle Paul examined his life, concluding, “everything [else is] a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.” Philippians 3:8 NIV.  Spiritually, he understood profit and loss. Paul evaluated his best efforts and good works, “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with Him.” Vs. 7-9 NLT.

You have to turn loose of the stuff you don’t need. Found written in a martyred missionary’s diary, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which cannot lose.” Paul understood this important principle, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial . . not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV. Don’t settle for what is merely acceptable; require of yourself what is admirable. Can you identify areas of your life that are either profitable or loss to you, or a mixture of both?

Life is about profit and loss; examination differentiates between those. Some losses are short term; others are long term. Long term losses are unaffordable. With profits, you should apply yourself where those continue to return welcome dividends for a lifetime. For me, habits and friendships come first to mind. Habits that add to your well-being are profitable; habits that don’t are neutral at best or harmful at worst. The earlier in your life that you choose and solidify beneficial habits, the better your life will be. Actually, you are the product of the habits you allow, some established in your youngest years. Some of those will serve you well; others could cost you dearly.

Whatever good habits may cost you in the short term – in the manner of commitment, discipline, time, effort, or sacrifice – is a small price to pay for what becomes an enduring investment. Personal and spiritual disciplines are not produced by whim. Deferred satisfaction is the product of hard choices requiring daily reinforcement. Critically essential habits are those that nurture spiritual growth and development such as: prayer, fasting, Bible Study, Scripture memorization, Bible meditation, Christian fellowship, giving, and serving. Read 2 Peter 2:2-9 NKJV. Those practices are profitable. “I want you to be able always to recognize the highest and the best, and to live sincere and blameless lives until the day of Jesus Christ. I want to see your lives full of true goodness, produced by the power that Jesus Christ gives you to the praise and glory of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 JBPhillips.

Friendships also have to be weighed as to their value. The more prayerfully and carefully you choose the friendships you cultivate, the richer your life can be. If you merely accumulate acquaintances as the years pass, you may find later in life that they can be an unexplainable mixture of both profit and loss. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV.Conversely, good company encourages good character.

Some relationships can imperceptibly diminish the best in you, until your unnoticed loss is no longer ignorable. A person really is known by the company they keep. I was taught to choose friends whose example inspired me to be better. My dear friend, Don, reminded me that I once thanked him, “for not letting me be what I would have been without you.” That would be equally true because of my family, friends, and church we served. Nor can I imagine my life without Jesus. For Him, I want to be profitable in others’ lives as many have been in mine.

My prayer for you this day is: recognize what blesses your life; avoid what hinders.   

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Right Thing To Do

December 21st, 2011

“It would not be right for us . .” Acts 6:2 NIV

“The easiest or familiar is seldom the best or right thing.”

My thoughts today are about the “right thing to do.”

I am not thinking so much about things right or wrong, as I am about differentiating between the good and best. It is often said that “good is the enemy of the best.” Something may seem to be good enough but good enough will never accomplish what’s best. Your best is always the right thing to do.

There will always seem more than you have enough time, energy, or ability to do; that could be because there are some things you aren’t meant to do. A successful life is found in knowing what is yours to do and doing that well; a highly successful life is reserved for those who also know what they are not meant to do, and leave those things to others. The latter is more important than you may realize.

Success eventually requires hard choices. The very abilities, effort, energy, and focus that brings success in your endeavors can be stretched thin by a growing diversity of demands and expectations. When you are feeling the pressure to do more than you have time or ability to do, demands and deadlines will sometimes clarify what is “your business to do,” and what is none of your business.

The first century Church in Jerusalem grew so rapidly that the apostles could not keep up with everything that needed to be done. There was a problem no caring person would deny; some people were not being taken care of in an equitable manner as others were. For this to be done should something else be left undone? Wisely, the apostles in charge evaluated the problem as proper food distribution to both Greek and Hebrew widows – reaffirmed the priorities as prayer and the teaching of God’s Word – and made a choice both wise and practical; this is something that must be done but can be done by others. Always do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.

Their reasoning? “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God to wait on tables. Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them . . this proposal pleased the whole group.” Acts 6:2-5 NIV. Life is better when you keep it clear and simple. The apostles recognized that the investment of themselves in what had arisen would mean their neglect of what was their priority. While you busy yourself doing what someone else could do, you miss what you should do. Every responsibility is not necessarily your responsibility. “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have neglected.” Song 1:6 NIV. Multi-gifted people are especially tempted in this area. Knowing how and when to say no is as important as being willing to say yes.

You are more effective when you are occupied with the things that are right for you – that best fit your skill-set and are within your Godly assignment. The easiest and familiar thing to do is seldom the best or right thing for you. Few of us are given the luxury of opportunity and authority to always do what we would prefer to do, nor should we. Effectiveness comes with focus; focus comes from priorities. That’s where you find the right thing for you. The Apostle Paul determined, “I am focusing all my energies in this one thing . .” Philippians 3:13 NLT. See Psalm 27:4 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you do what you know God has given you to do.

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