Friday, July 2, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"

I'm going to spend the next few days checking the key points of this poem against biblical instruction and wisdom, beginning with:

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you . . ."

There are times when, rightfully or not, we become the target of blame in a difficult situation. Perhaps it's the economy or unemployment issues. Or perhaps it's something closer to home - like a family function that's gone awry. 

Due to miscommunication, guests have all gone to the wrong restaurant for your Uncle Buck's hundredth birthday party. You and Uncle Buck are waiting at the Elks, wearing party hats, whistles rolled up beside your plates. Everyone else is at I-HOP wondering where in the world the guest of honor is and hoping he hasn't been in an accident. By the time the misunderstanding is identified, your disappointed uncle has nodded off to sleep and you have taken him home. Everyone else is a-twitter--and they're blaming you!

You may never know how your clearly-stated directions were misconstrued. But, in the midst of it all, can you keep your head about you? Can you apologize for the confusion and do your best to get to the bottom of it? If it's your fault, can you seek forgiveness? If the event was sabotaged by someone intending harm to you or Uncle Buck, can you respond as Jesus would? 

Consider Jesus, who committed no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth.Yet they accused him coarsely.

"When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. 
When he suffered, he made no threats. 
Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly"
~ I Peter 2:23

This is how you answer your critics. Don't retaliate. Don't gossip. Don't make threats. Instead, entrust yourself to him who judges justly. And he will take care of you. 

If you've been wronged, consider this from Romans:

"Do not take revenge, my friends,
but leave room for God's wrath,
for it is written:
'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord.
~ Romans 12:19

Furthermore, this passage says we should actually do good to our enemies, feeding them if they are hungry, giving them something to drink if they are thirsty. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

If you can do that, you will have accomplished the first of many challenges this father has put to his son. Keep it up and you are on your way to being a man, or woman, the Father can be proud of.

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