Don’t Take What’s Not Yours

Only the water at our feet can we alter the course.
Only the water at our feet can we alter the course.

Don’t Take What’s Not Yours

Surely, the practice of extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe destroys the mind. The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit. Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.
Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not wise of you to ask this. Eccl 7:7-10 (HCSB)

Learning to be content in our present state – the challenges and opportunities that are in the present moment – is the key to learning to be patient. We cannot change the past; those former opportunities and challenges are behind us and never can be realized again. What we failed to accomplish for any number of seemingly valid reasons at the time is like water of a river rushing on by – irretrievable. Yet, in contrast, future opportunities and challenges are unknown until they manifest themselves in the present. However, it’s like trying to predict the impact of waters that just began its journey at the head of a river – so much depends upon the obstructions that interfere with the path of the river waters along the journey before those precise waters reach where you are in the present. Why? The future is unpredictable, and only God knows the future. He alone exists outside of the restrictions of space and time. He is behind all that occurs in ours lifetime: past, present or future without disrupting our free will choices and the consequences thereof.

In light of our present situation in life: why do we get so impatient and angry? Is it because we desire advance notice of what’s the next challenge or opportunity in our life? Yet where is our faith? Do we not believe that God knows what we are capable of handling and only allows what we can handle to be thrown at us in the present moment – the only time when our influence matters. At times we may feel overwhelmed; other times, bored but all times are God’s teachable moments for each of us. Our response in handling life in the now allows God to shape and mold the future for us. Therefore, what good would it do to pursue a seer’s crystal ball to peek into the future? Seers only see what we want to see, never the future. Likewise, wishing to return to our past is futile and brought with folly. If we could go back to the past, it’d certainly never be the same because we’re no longer the person who lived our past.

Learn from the past, but realize we can never relive the past.

So how can we have the strength to cope and survive the challenges and opportunities of the present that present themselves as endless tests, trials and tribulations of our patience, our endurance, and our perseverance? Just as the any river ebbs and flows as the seasons change, we too experience the endless ebb and flow of present life challenges and changes that cause us to make choices which result in consequences. We cannot avoid the challenges or the changes. We can only determine our response to them which affects our ability to cope with more endless challenges and changes flowing at us in the present.

However, the answer is simple to the source of our strength to cope with the endless flow. Seek out daily the author of time and space, the one who orchestrates the challenges and changes directed at us – God, our heavenly Father. Begin each day and return as often as needed, seeking God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Pray for the patience to anticipate wisely the future, while we persevere in the present, and offer praises for all that has passed us by and now rests behind us. Believe with all our heart that God knows what’s best for us, and that He orchestrates choices at life’s crossroads for a grand purpose, but He will also journey alongside us in the present, no matter the choices you may make.

But for heaven’s sake: Don’t be like the fool and try to dam up the river to cling to the past and stymie the future. The fool always gets washed away by what he thought he could control that was not his to possess! The fool believes he or she can take what’s not their’s to take, but learns the past and future no one may possess except God.


Words of Wisdom #238-22EC

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Retired, writing a contemporary mystery series, the Shiloh Mysteries. The first story is titled, "Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories". The sequel is "Testament, An Unexpected Return." The third is due out in Fall 2019, Purgatory, A Progeny's Quest."

2 thoughts on “Don’t Take What’s Not Yours”

  1. I believe that Jesus allows us to come to term with our past, and each of us needs to be very careful with how we use the word, “Fool,” Christ took so much time stopping and healing people, and driving out demons–But in there too we encounter the Christ of the tender heart. Most Christians do enough beating up themselves daily, and for those of us who began to pray long ago–It is often done much more than the time to brush our teeth. Fools, foolishness, and open use of the terms is apt to be used as a way to criticize one another–Also we must look at the situation in the Bible and how it applied to the day and time. It might have been unhealthy, but we’re only human, and we do not forget our first loves, and for some of us who hardly know how we got through a childhood at all, and I will not go in to how children fear when they hear parents threaten each other, when the bag is empty–It’s dead winter, the food is gone, and no one comes to the back roads. One has no basic needs resolved–Then someone we love and trust–Life is bereft of basic needs, but the most basic for children not to know is love, and no Christian should feel like a failed Christian for remembering something which made them happy; My brothers and sisters and I know that a lot of preaching went on, for we listened, but mid-century Appalachia had no mercy on us. We managed, and each for their own purpose. I wanted to see my Dad smile a little with grades, or 4-H, or Spiritual awards. “Pinkhoneysuckle,” reveals more about children of our area south mid-Atlantic, for we were the, “White Trash,” to lay all on our backs when most of the black people had gone north already. We must leave many doors open for those who are in grief and relish portions of earlier life events–Sometimes, people are going to have screwed up brain chemistry–And they need anti-depressants, and none, “Heal.” as I’ve witnessed in health care. It is unrealistic to tell people to pray their way through a depression or grief which is killing them when God so generously has allowed Christian physicians, nurses, and other mental health workers to recognize when the prayers are seeming possible, and we become the foolish person who knows not to criticize where a person is stuck in a period of joy– We as Christian professionals also need to see the miracles of medicine which is gifts of the body soul and spirit. This is a small gift I can give to others, that sometimes you need to go to a hospital, and then your Christian brothers and sisters can help you to find where that joy in Christ now burns. Loving Blessings, Barbara

  2. Barbara, thanks again for expressing your feelings about your past. It is true we should not think we have the right to call anyone a fool. However, we can act the fool by our own actions or attitudes. That is the point of these passages that use the term. As Jesus stated, the man who calls another “Raca” (a blithering fool) has already committed murder in his heart. At the same time, one who determines that he is not satisfied with God’s handling of the affairs and state of their life risks exposing themselves as a fool because a fool is one who knows better (aware of the consequences) and chooses to take such action anyway, i.e. bribery and extortion, examples of a fool’s effort to possess what isn’t their’s to possess. In essence, ‘steal” when God clearly says, “Do not steal.” A fool covets in violation to God’s command to not covet as well. A fool murders not only others but himself by his attitude and actions. The point Jesus makes is clear as well, “love God and your neighbors as you love yourself” and be content with what you have trusting in God’s provision like the sparrow or the grass in the field. When we feel lacking in the necessities of life what should we do? Jesus declared, seek the first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The warning of the passage is to not act or behave like the fool and connive against others to improve the condition of our life, just because it is what we want. Faith in God demands we stand tall trusting in God’s provisions. The failing of Israel and Judah began when they wanted what the surrounding nations offered, and the descent to their defeat and exile soon followed. Their example is a reminder to us today as well…Thanks Barbara. God bless.

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