Tag Archives: values

Your Values….Really???

I believe most of us would agree, after giving it some thought, that our values are reflected in our actions.   That is, our behavior demonstrates what we value and what are our priorities much better than what we say.

If this is true, then why do we so often fail to see the contradictions between what people say and what they do and  also fail to see the contradictions in our own lives?  Several examples….There are a large number of voters in Kansas who say that they will base their vote this election on the fact that the candidate is “Pro-Life”.    This group says their chief value is “life”, in this case “the life of the unborn child.”     That’s their choice and I might state that, except in special cases such as incest and rape I agree .    However, if they are “Pro-Life” I see a huge contradiction between that value and their actions,  because once the baby is born these same people are the same ones who lead in the  defunding of early childhood education,  withholding medical care from thousands of children in Kansas by not extending the federal Medicaid program,   cutting funds for classrooms,  paying below poverty wages to working parents—–all of this leads me to think they are not “Pro-Life” but they are “Pro-myself  making money”.   Their true value is “money” not “lives of children”.    Their actions demonstrate their real value.   Once the child is born they lose all interest in children’s welfare as they grow into adulthood.    That costs money!

Another example:    Most of us would agree that one of our values is honesty.   We appreciate it in others.   We practice it ourselves.   We see it as the basis of a society that works.    Now,  answer truthfully—-if you are in a checkout line and you give the clerk a twenty dollar bill and get change for a fifty dollar bill, what do you do?    Do you pocket the money and smile about the windfall?   Or do you tell the clerk about the mistake and get the correct change?    What you do determines whether you value honesty or money the most!    Same is true on Income Taxes—-do we ever “forget” to report some things, or “inflate” an expense that would be difficult to verify?     The difference in value here  again is honesty or money?    Which is it for you?  Which for me?

This same principle holds true for us in the practice of our Christian faith.    Do we agree that a Christian’s values should be attached to the Great Commandment of Jesus that says “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength;  and your neighbor as yourself?”    Love God—–love your neighbor as you love yourself.    But do our actions show  our love for God and our neighbor?     Do our actions  from day to day demonstrate that?    In what way?  Name a few of those actions?   If we’re having trouble doing that, then we need to  ask ourselves this question   How many of our actions show that our love for ourselves trumps our love of neighbor?    How many of our actions show our love of ourselves trumps our love for God?   

If people are to be attracted to become followers of “the Way” of Jesus the Christ they will be attracted by the actions of Christians “walking that Way” in their daily lives  and not by the words of those calling themselves Christians who tell   them of their beliefs.

Someone has said:   “What you do is what you believe.   Everything else is just religious talk”.     

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Governor Sam, the Values Man

The ads on TV are continuous now as election time nears.   Governor Sam Brownback’s favorite, it appears,  is one where a group of people are gathered around him on lawn chairs in the back yard..   The men  are all wearing their best blue jeans and brand new cowboy straw hats and the women don’t look like they’ve ever set foot on a farm.  Sam is telling them that he grew up on a farm in eastern Kansas and that his parents still operate it and from time to time he visits—but his dad still won’t let him operate a combine or plant (much laughter here).    But—he continues—the important things he learned from his parents in growing up on that family farm are his values and his character…..

I think perhaps, Sam, you need to go home more often and ask for a refresher course in these two areas of values and character..   Obviously you either weren’t listening, are a slow learner, or are forgetful.   You just don’t seem to be operating on any values except “winning at all costs” and “maintaining your power at all costs.    I hope when you take that refresher course that you will ask Mom and Pop Brownback to emphasize some of the Biblical values especially.   For example:

The value of not bearing false witness against your neighbor—also known as truthfulness and honesty.    Look at the half-truths and the outright lies in your political ads about the state of the Kansas economy as well as your political mudslinging toward your opponent.

The value of compassion for the vulnerable, the poor, the sick and children..  This compassion was what Jesus, whom you profess to follow, demonstrated time after time during his ministry.   I see it in very few of your actions as governor the last four years.   You have refused to extend Medicaid coverage for a large number of Kansans who can’t afford health insurance but don’t now qualify for Medicaid, including lots of children.  Should they not  have health coverage?   No, you said in spite of overwhelming recommendations by Kansas doctors and hospitals that you do so.   Why?  Because that might cause problems with your political supporters who hate Obamacare for some reason and will stop backing you if you do so?     I don’t find any compassion at all here.   Even Republican governors in other states have expanded Medicaid out of concern for the poor in their state who did not have medical coverage.   You made  cuts in social programs and education in Kansas  so that the rich can get even richer through the abolition of the state income tax on “small business.” The resulting downturn of income for the state has caused and will cause further cuts in the programs for the poor and the sick and the mentally challenged, and for schools.    Where is your compassion?  —-how unlike the compassion that Jesus portrayed this all is!!

Are winning at all costs, even by shading the truth, and the character assassination of your political adversaries  the values that you learned at your parents’ knee?   I hope not.

How does misrepresenting the true facts of what is happening in Kansas  and saying “The sun is shining on Kansas and don’t let anyone tell you different” represent your values that you learned at your parents knee? Independent analysts, economic experts, all warn that Kansas is in trouble financially even if we do not spend more because of the tax cuts and resultant decreasing income for the state.  Two very reputable credit agencies downgraded Kansas’ credit rating this year because their economists warned of the financial trouble.   Does this sound like sunshine?   Are you being honest with Kansas about the sunshine or are you only saying it to get re-elected. Do you value honesty or a power?   When the two are in conflict, power seems to win.

How does making the rich more rich through your policies and the  laws you have signed, then blaming the poor for being poor because they won’t work fit into your value system?  How are the poor to find jobs if they are living on the street?   The jobs that are available are mostly ones that do not pay a living wage—-often below the minimum wage.   How are they to lift themselves out of poverty.   What did Jesus ever do that advocated blaming the poor for being poor? 

How about attacking the character of your opponent in the election and lying about his motives?    Where did you learn that particular value?    Even the ancient Greeks had a name for this— Argumentum ad Hominem”—and it described a spurious argument that attacks the person when you are not able to attack the person’s ideas.

Winning at any costs, the end justifies the means, is not a value that Jesus taught or practiced.    In fact Jesus said “the last shall be first and the first shall be last“.   He also said:   “he who is the master shall be the servant of all.”  Greed and power never were a part of the values that Jesus taught.  These two values ((greed and power) seem to dominate your value system and the actions that spring from it.  

Character is the result of our values.   And our values need to be weighed against the moral standard of the Great Commandment:   “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength—-and love your neighbor as you love yourself.   How do your values measure up to this Great Commandment, Sam?    I’m sure you love God and that you love yourself, it’s the love of neighbor that gives me a problem.    I think your neighbor is not considered to be the robbed and beaten and dying man on the side of the road who the Good Samaritan gave aid to.  That’s how Jesus defined who our neighbors were   I think your neighbors are  limited to your political allies and those who contribute vast sums of money to your political campaigns.  Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t believe most of your words!

Come on, Sam—-you really need that refresher course!!

 

 

 

Possessions and Treasures—Where is Your Heart?

Most of us have visited a junkyard, or its modern equivalent of an antique and collectibles store?   Or perhaps you’ve gone to an estate auction.   All the above have the same impact on me when I visit them.   Everywhere I look there is “stuff” that people have worked and saved to buy.   All around me are what were once a person’s possessions—-“stuff” that they lived for and were proud of and had meaning for them.    Now they are fit only for a dump or the shelf of a store or to be auctioned to the highest bidder who is looking for a bargain!   They are an apt illustration that placing our hopes and dreams on material possessions will eventually lead us nowhere but to the junkyard.   Materialism has only junk value!!

Jesus taught that God defines “riches” differently than we do.   Our riches, in God’s eye, are NOT our possessions.   Our riches, in God’s eyes are our treasures—-and there is a big difference!

Think about these differences:

  • We possess a job—-We treasure the family that job supports.
  • We possess a house—-We treasure our home.
  • We possess a bank account—We treasure friendship and love that money cannot buy.
  • We possess a car—-We treasure the freedom that car gives us to go and come as we wish.
  • We possess a wardrobe—-We treasure the life and health that allows us to wear that wardrobe.
  • We possess an appointment book—-We treasure our time.

Jesus told a story about this.  It’s often referred to as the Parable of the Rich Fool.  

The Rich Fool doesn’t seem foolish at first.   He is presented as a good farmer and shrewd businessman whose land produced abundantly.   With wealth pouring in much faster than he could use it, he faced a problem.   “What should I do?” he thought  to himself, “for I have no place to store my crops.”   His solution was  this:   He decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones, so that he could store all of his grain and his goods.   Then he said to his soul:  “Hey, soul!  You are doing all right!    Go ahead, relax, eat, drink, be merry.”    Then comes the surprise:   Death!!   That was something the rich man didn’t factor into his business plan.  And God said  to him, “You fool!   This very night your life is being demanded of you.   And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?

The rich man’s efforts on earth have been terribly misdirected.   He has been storing up treasures for himself, instead of becoming rich toward God by giving some of those riches to the poor and the hungry.   He was a victim ofgreed need“, which is a virus that gives us an “obsession for possession” and can infect any one of us whether we have a lot of money or not.

Jesus taught something very different in the Sermon on the Mount:   “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break through and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.   FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO.”   (Matthew 6:19-21)

How important are your possessions to you?   What do you treasure?   We can each answer that question for ourselves by looking at two things:  (1)   Our Calendar; and (2) our checkbook.    They will answer the following three questions about what you treasure:

  1. How do I spend my time?
  2. For what do I spend my money?
  3. What is my basis for making decisions on time and money!

Are you happy with your answers?