Not by Head but by Knees

In the internet, it is common to see people posting in their blogs things like “weight-loss project D-100,” or “10 self-help books that forever changed my life.” Apparently, people in all parts of the world are constantly striving to change their lives for the better, whether that change is physical or psychological. They report their improvements live via the web, and share their knowledge (or “wisdom”, or “know-how”) with the people all around world, who themselves are scavenging for “the insiders’ knowledge” to accumulate the maximum number of information they need to maximize their chances of success in an ever-demanding society. Everyone is restless. They are ever-more keen in their endeavors to make themselves a better person, to have better career, to accumulate greater wealth, and ultimately, to achieve lasting happiness. They want to be the superman, the over-achievers, so that they may add another zero in their salary. They wake up at 5 AM to jog in early January; they stay up until 4 AM to finish the second draft of their senior thesis; they embrace their famished stomach and look away from the clock that points to 8PM. They train their mind and body, happily embracing their hardships for the faint light at the end of a tunnel that seems to be stretched ad infinitum.

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Certainly, we are in the favor of God by not letting ourselves be idle. For, in Thessalonians 3:10 it says:

“…the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat…”

Or, in Philippiians 3:14:

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ.”

However, in the next chapter of the book (Philippians 4:13), it says:

“I can do all this through Him Who gives me strength.”

We all want to better ourselves by our own will, our own effort, our own strength. But, have we ever seeked God’s compassion? Have we ever dropped ourselves so low in front of Him that he may pity us and raise us back? Have we ever admitted our weaknesses and wrongs in front of Him that He may sympathize with us and grant us the strength we need?

Are we that dignified?

I certainly thought so for a while, until I received this verse from the Bible in the new year:

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

It is strange, for in words we readily admit our lack of abilities yet in action we depend on that alone.

And thus, let us strive to achieve not by our head but by our knees.

A.K.

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Our Best Intentions can Deceive Us

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The Bible tells us to love God with “all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” (Luke 10:27) Having a faith isn’t something that we can do half-heartedly. Look at Esther: with her famous “If I perish, I perish,” she risked her life to carry out God’s will to save the Israelites. Perhaps a more prominent example would be Paul the Apostle, a convert who became the greatest proselytizer of early Christianity; the saying “there is no greater proselytizer like a convert” didn’t just come from nowhere. Likewise, God demands us to pour our hearts and dare ourselves to achieve His will.

But we must approach this idea with caution, for God only demands a specific kind of passion: a passion to carry out what God has deemed to be right, not what we think is the best for Him or ourselves. Sometimes, we might be overzealous and act according to our best intentions and as a result displease God. This is because our best intentions don’t guarantee agreement with that of God’s. Just look at David for instance. David believed that the best way to move the Ark of the Covenant was to bring a fancy cart to carry the ark and it with guards and trumpets and other instruments. But that wasn’t what God wanted. He wanted David to study the “right” way, His way of properly bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem with specific instructions that date back to the times of Moses.

Or look at Saul; the Lord specifically instructed Saul to destroy everything in the Lord of Amalek. Saul, however, only destroyed what he thought were “vile and refuse”, sparing and bringing the richest of the lambs and the fattest of the oxens (1 Samuel 15: 1-22). Saul’s excuse was that these animals would be used as sacrifices for God, which prompted Samuel’s to say the famous “to obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

We may love God with all our hearts and soul, but keep in mind that God wants us to obey His will, not for us to decide what’s best for Him. Sometimes, our best intentions aren’t enough. We must first seek what He wants from us and then give our all.