Aloha Friday Message – November 14, 2014 – I Ain’t Lyin’

1446AFC111414 – I Ain’t Lyin’!

Read it online here, please.

John 8:44 – You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. New International Version

This Sunday, many of us will hear a reading from Proverbs 31. I have mentioned this section of scripture before when I wrote about the Virtuous Woman. Check that last link for a list of 10 Virtues of the Proverbs 31 Woman. I have known a number of women who are worthy of the title, Virtuous Woman – or Proverbs 31 Woman. If you look through that list of 10 virtues, you will perhaps think of someone who fits most, if not all, of those descriptions. For the passage about the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31, see Proverbs 31:10-31.

I’ve made my own little list of Characteristics of the Proverbs 31 Woman based on that passage. It looks like this:

1)    Faithful – She is first and foremost always faithful to God in Christ Jesus. She loves Jesus enough to do whatever he says.

2)    Generous – She is always ready to give or to share whatever she has. She will even seek out what she does not have if she perceives someone else needs it.

3)    Trustworthy – She has irreproachable integrity, and everyone knows she keeps her promises, and can be counted on to speak and act truthfully.

4)    Conscientious – She is vigilant. She prudently watches for things that contradict her life’s mission and values.

5)    Industrious – She finds, or makes, ways to sustain and improve the lives of the people she loves.

6)    Confident – She is poised and presents herself with unmistakable dignity in everything from housework to career work.

7)    Beautiful – She may or may not be considered physically beautiful, yet there is an attractiveness seen in her smile, heard in her voice, and felt in her company. She puts the hearts and minds of others at ease.

In today’s world, such a list is deemed overly-optimistic, or maybe even insulting and unrealistic. Some might say that no one can live up to that imaginary standard of excellence. Personally, I think that’s a lie. As I said, I’ve known, or known about, some extraordinary virtuous women – and valorous men; most of them can nail that list of seven characteristics. There’s a feminine character portrayed in the Bible that exceeds all of these virtues listed in Proverbs 31, on the Virtuous Woman website, and in this short list. I am referring to Wisdom. In much of the Wisdom Literature in the Bible, Wisdom is personified as being female. Wisdom was with the Trinity when the universe was created. Wisdom is the cooperating accompanist to the symphony of creation, “the music of the spheres.” Wisdom is to be desired above all else, and is more valuable than any treasure one might possess.

The passage describes a woman who could be the composite of everything ideal in a wife. She is the accomplished woman of wide-ranging intelligence, pleasant beauty, and unquestionable, invincible faith in God. Her love for God and his guidance is epic, unswerving, and the pattern for all her human relationships. She is the paragon of practicality and the quintessence of creativity simultaneously. She is wise, humorous, attractive, modest, honest, the model of integrity, and does all things well. She is A Virtuous Woman. The first use of the phrase a virtuous woman occurs in the story of Ruth – one of the two books in the Bible named after a woman (Esther is the other one). Catholic scripture includes a third book, Judith, which is an exciting tale about a feisty and daring Jewish widow who bested an enemy general and saved her community.

In Ruth 3:11 we see this term for the first time as Boaz is speaking to Ruth: And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. The word used in Hebrew is חַיִל; chayil {khah’-yil}. It is a word that signifies valor, valiance, strength, riches, might, wealth, efficiency. And here’s a little something to think about: It is used when referring to both men and women who are extraordinary examples of great courage, strength, integrity, and most importantly love of and reverence for God and his commands. So Boaz was saying to Ruth that he would be a helper and protector for her and her mother-in-law (Naomi) and he knew it would be OK to help her even though she was a foreigner from Moab (an enemy state) because she was an exceptional woman. I am not lying about the fact that such women do indeed exist.

By now you may be wondering why I started this out with Jesus’ argument against the claims of his listeners that they, the Jews, were the children of Abraham. His point in verses 42 and 43 was that because they refused to listen to him, they were not behaving as the children of Abraham should. He said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.” And what “word” is that? Let’s look at a handful of main points in Jesus’ teaching.

1)    Love God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.

2)    No one comes to the Father unless the Father calls him; no one comes to him except through me.

3)    Repent and believe the Gospel.

4)    Love one another as I have loved you.

There may be more you would want to add to the list, but I’d like to just stick with these for now. These are things that really make Satan angry when we make them part of our lives. He works very hard to make these things undesirable and constantly works to undermine the love and trust we have for God by guiding us into sin through misdirection. I have some examples I want to share with you. Some of these may tick you off or offend you; they’re not very “PC,” so let’s start with that – “Political Correctness.”

It makes sense that one should not be deliberately offensive on the basis of a personally-held prejudice. Behaviors and laws that result in persecution of others because of their personal characteristics should be examined carefully to see if they are equitable for all. There is a difference between EQUITY and EQUALITY. God is equitable, as we read in Psalm 96:10Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. We see the same idea in Psalm 9:8 He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. To be equitable is to be fair and upright, righteous. Equity aims to give access to what people need for a full and successful life. Equality aims to give everyone access to the same things on the assumption that they have the same origins and requirements. Both try to impose impartiality in justice, but equity is more evenhanded. When equality is imposed, it is often the case that a minority need affects the entire population rather than just restoring requirements to the minority. The effect is that “being politically correct” facilitates relativism – the belief that there is no independent, inviolate Truth: “What’s true for you may not be true for me.” That’s a lie. There is an independent, inviolate Truth which is true regardless of your knowledge of it or belief in it. So what about relativism?

In relativism there are no absolutes – morality is based on social norms internal to the community and not on external standards not originating in the community. Truth, Justice, and the concept of right and wrong are fluid. Relativism and Political Correctness erode virtues, and therefore are inappropriate for Virtuous Women and Valorous Men. Being kind and equitable is OK in any system of morality, but in relativism “kind” and “equitable” have inconstant meanings. Relativism leads us to accept other things that are not good for us on the basis that others are doing X so it must be OK, therefore we can to X, too. That’s often a lie. A good example is yoga. Lots of people do yoga without realizing that it is something every Christian should absolutely avoid. The purpose of yoga is to separate life from reality. Its philosophy and poses are for homage to Hindu deities. It is an insidious method of drawing us from the pure and wholesome worship of God into a pagan, pantheistic lifestyle that can have seriously deleterious effects on our spiritual life. Most people will tell you that yoga is a physical exercise, not spiritual. It’s just the opposite. Try Pilates instead. Same benefits, none of the dangers associated with spiritual self-gratification “in union with Brahman” instead of spiritual service to Jehovah. Learn more here. There are five separate articles. Read them all.

Self-gratification is behind the epidemic of social media and the ubiquitous selfies we send. We want to be important so we broadcast to the world what we had for lunch, how our “significant other” treated us this morning (really?), and artsy little self-affirmations that tell the world we’re struggling through something horrible and need their sympathy. None of can do anything wrong or stupid anymore because there’s always some self-sufficient guru who can give us fashionable spirituality that is noncommittal and unstructured. Is everyone who shoots a selfie a vaporous nobody? No, of course not; we want to share our happiness – or miseries – with others, often using the reasoning that they should know they’re not the only ones suffering. That’s not inherently problematic – unless it leads us to cease to offer up our suffering to God for the sake of others. To keep it all for ourselves so we can buy sympathy is a special form of selfishness.

SerpentEdenSelfishness – the desire to satisfy our own self-interests – goes back to Eden. It is the basis of the first lie Satan told humanity: “You want to be like God; he doesn’t want you to do that, but this act of defiance will make you just like him.” According to Genesis 3:3, Eve responded with the first human lie. In 2:17 God told Adam, “… you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Eve told the Serpent, “but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” They wanted a “good thing,” to be like God; Satan got them to believe they were not already like God!

These are but a few of the things – the lies – that tarnish the virtue and valor of women and men. All of them are things we innately know are dangerous to us. All of them are things that can lead us to sin and by which we move our lives farther from God. Sin is moving our lives farther from God. I want you moving the other direction, closer to God. Any and all of us can be taken in by these lies – I certainly have, so I know it does happen. When you were a kid, it was important that you learn not to touch the hot stove. You’re not a kid any more. Learn to stay away from the other things that can burn you. I’m not one of those gurus telling you “this is going to change your life.” I’m just another stumbling sinner that gets tripped up by things I pick up that are bad for me. I want to share what I’ve learned because learning it has been a blessing to me so I want it to bless you, too.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

chick

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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