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More than Just Work Ethic

Work ethic is the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous. Protestant work ethic was brought to New England during the 17th and 18th when Puritans arrived from Great Britain. The Puritan’s believed that it was necessary to be in a covenant relationship with God in order to be redeemed from one’s sinful condition. These fervent followers taught that God had chosen to reveal salvation through preaching, and that the Holy Spirit was the energizing instrument of salvation. Unfortunately, some took this to the extreme, claiming that working hard at one’s call was a sign that you would be saved.

Servants (slaves), be obedient to those who are your physical masters, having respect for them and eager concern to please them, in singleness of motive and with all your heart, as [service] to Christ [Himself]—Not in the way of eye-service [as if they were watching you] and only to please men, but as servants (slaves) of Christ, doing the will of God heartily and with your whole soul; Ephesians 6:5-6.

In the passage above and below, the apostle Paul addresses work ethic by targeting a broad audience. After speaking to fathers about the urge to exasperate their children, Paul moves on to displaying proper conduct. This scope isn’t limited to the poor, but includes administrators, business owners, and those in places of authority and power. Using the Golden Rule as a point of reference, Paul urges individuals to do unto others as you want others to do unto you, Matthew 7:12. This is the root of work ethic, striving to love others as God loves us, Matthew 22:36-40.

Rendering service readily with goodwill, as to the Lord and not to men, Knowing that for whatever good anyone does, he will receive his reward from the Lord, whether he is slave or free. You masters, act on the same [principle] toward them and give up threatening and using violent and abusive words, knowing that He Who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no respect of persons (no partiality) with Him, Ephesians 6:7-9.

When I first started working as a teenager, I was taught the harder you worked, the more money you would make. This wasn’t always true, but if you developed a reputation for being a hard worker, this led to bigger and better opportunities to advance. As someone who has always wrestled with being a workaholic, pacing myself has been a daily battle throughout my life. Subsequently, I tend to burn myself out, addicted to what I am doing until desire and passion fades away. While adopting a good work ethic is important, you don’t want to end up like Martha who lost her childhood faith, Luke 10:38-42. Instead, seek to be more like Mary to entertain Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

A Touch of Class

History is filled with stories of individuals doing whatever it takes to reach the throne. This struggle to gain and maintain control of a kingdom has inspired many dramas with the most recent the Game of Thrones. When the nation of Israel transitioned from Judges as rulers to a monarchy, King Saul began to feel threatened by David. This jealousy influenced Saul to eliminate his future competition, giving orders to hunt down and kill David.

And David said, Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan’s sake? And of the house of Saul there was a servant whose name was Ziba. When they had called him to David, he said to him, Are you Ziba? He said, I, your servant, am he. The king said, Is there not still someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the [unfailing, unsought, unlimited] mercy and kindness of God? Ziba replied, Jonathan has yet a son who is lame in his feet, 2 Samuel 9:1-3.

When news of King Saul’s death reached David, the transition of power from Saul’s family to David’s began. Fearful of retribution, the only living male, Jonathon’s only son was hidden in a far desolate location. Instead of repaying evil with evil, David’s friendship with Jonathon softened his heart. During a cabinet meeting, David offers a touch of class, wondering if he could show kindness to a member Saul’s house.

And Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and did obeisance. David said, Mephibosheth! And he answered, Behold your servant! David said to him, Fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your father [grandfather], and you shall eat at my table always. And [the cripple] bowed himself and said, What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am? Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, I have given your master’s son [grandson] all that belonged to Saul and to all his house, 2 Samuel 9:6-9.

While Mephibosheth was a young child, 5 years old, one of his caretakers accidently dropped him. The freak nature of this fall permanently damaged Mephibosheth’s feet, similar to a Lisfranc fracture. Subsequently, Mephibosheth was unable to walk for the rest of his life. I guess you can say King David was way ahead of his time, caring for and loving Mephibosheth regardless of his condition. In the end, David was following the golden rule before it was introduced, “loving your neighbor as yourself.”

by Jay Mankus

The Tears of Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. The metal framework of this landmark was built by Gustave Eiffel. This gift from France was dedicated on October 28, 1886. Three years later, Eiffel completed his own masterpiece in Paris, France. Unfortunately, the first symbol of the Statue of Liberty has been forgotten. Initially, the purpose of this erection of Lady Liberty served as a seal of the friendship between France and the United States. At her feet is a broken chain of slavery designed as a symbol of freedom. Meanwhile, The inscription on the tablet she is holding contains JULY IV MDCCLXXVI, the day of the Declaration of Independence for the United States.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

Between 1886 and 1924, nearly 14 million immigrants entered the United States through the New York Bay on their way to Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty was a reassuring sign that achieving the American dream was now a possibility for new arrivals. Ellis Island became the United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station for 62 years from 1892 until 1954. To those entering this body of water at night, the uplifted torch of Lady Liberty was a welcoming sign and was meant to enlighten those who passed by. As the 250th anniversary draws near, revisionist historians are quickly disposing of America’s rich history. A day doesn’t go by without news of another statue removed or threatened from a downtown area. If this trend continues, there will be nothing left to remind citizens of America’s past mistakes and victories.

For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. 14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself, Galatians 5:13-14.

While the tears of Lady Liberty continue to fall as America goes through an identity crisis, the Bible provides hope for the hopeless. In a letter to the church at Galatia, the apostle Paul reminds individuals of this region that Jesus came to liberate sinners. Instead of being held captive by addiction, God wants everyone to experience spiritual freedom. Yet, bad habits have a way of ensnaring souls, similar to a yoke of slavery. Whenever you allow your sinful nature to get out of hand, reigning in your flesh can take months or years to regain control. Thus, if you are looking for a glimmer of hope, love is the answer. Paul references the golden rule, “loving your neighbor as yourself.” This reminder can be traced back to the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus reveals love is conditional. If you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you, Matthew 6:14-15. May your own acts of love inspired by the Holy Spirit turn Lady Liberty’s frown into a smile.

by Jay Mankus

A Nation of False Witnesses

I was first introduced to the ten commandments through CCD, the Catholic version of Sunday School.  These ten standards were drilled into my mind as God’s expectations for human beings to follow.  As a young boy, I didn’t understand love or know how these principles would shape my life.  Yet, this portion of the Bible serves as the cornerstone for being civilized.  Anyone who adheres to the final six commandments follows the golden rule, treating others as you want to be treated.

12 “Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord your God gives you.

13 “You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal [secretly, openly, fraudulently, or through carelessness].

16 “You shall not testify falsely [that is, lie, withhold, or manipulate the truth] against your neighbor (any person), Exodus 20:12-16.

After attending seminary for two years, my understanding of the ten commandments grew.  Jesus’ response to a first century religious leader below highlights two distinct sections.  The first four commandments are focused on loving God.  The final six commandments emphasize loving your neighbor.  Within his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis refers to Cardinal and Theological virtues.  Anyone can follow the final six commandments if you are determined to do so.  However, loving God requires the Holy Spirit which is only available to those who enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ 40 The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments,” Matthew 22:36-40.

As I listen to cable news, talk shows and people throughout the course of my day, there is a growing crisis.  Either Americans don’t know the ten commandments, don’t care about these Old Testament commands or the searing of consciences has reached epidemic levels?  There are various mantras, narratives and talking points that are spewed daily.  If you change the channel or turn the page of a newspaper, these messages bombard human minds day after day.  When a different opinion or point of view is offered, attacks are made in the form of lies.  Maybe I am alone, but it appears that the United States is becoming a nation of false witnesses as both sides can’t be right  Perhaps, the ten commandments is the only thing that may reverse this trend by convicting souls to love God and love others.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond the Golden Rule

Traces of a golden rule can be found in the early 17th century. The first usage of this term in the context of the Bible appears to occur in 1604.
Anglican preachers and theologians from Great Britain are credited for coining this expression. Charles Gibbon and Thomas Jackson are the first to paraphrase the words of Jesus with a succinct command: treat others the way you would want them to treat you.

Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength,’ Mark 12:28-30.

After listening to a sermon last weekend on this topic, there is a flaw to the golden rule. It’s impossible to love others unless you first possess the love of God within your heart. C.S. Lewis refers to this concept as Theological Virtues in his book Mere Christianity. Anyone has access to Cardinal Virtues like prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. However, theological virtues such as hope, faith and charity are only accessible via the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the only way to successfully live out the golden rule involves entering a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 5:1-5.

This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,” Mark 12:31-33.

The apostle Paul provides a few verses that support this theory. Philippians 2:4 encourages individuals to look to the interests of others. However, unless you take care of your own needs first, you won’t be able to help and love others if your own spiritual house isn’t in order. Meanwhile, Paul also explains how to go beyond the golden rule in Romans 15:2. Pleasing your neighbor is expected through random acts of kindness. However, if you want to go the extra mile, build up your neighbor spiritually. Therefore, if you want to go beyond the golden rule, make it your ambition to plant spiritual seeds daily.

by Jay Mankus

The Fundamental Basis for Law

Prominent founding fathers argued that the United States Constitution should not be ratified as it failed to protect the basic principles of human liberty.  This led James Madison to propose amendments to the constitution.  These amendments known as the Bill of Rights were inspired by George Mason’s 1776 Virginia Declarations of Rights, the 1689 English Bill of Rights, works during the Age of Enlightenment pertaining to natural rights and the Magna Carta, 1215.  Ironically, the Magna Carta would inspire American colonists a few hundred years later to declare independence from Great Britain.  Roughly one-third of the provisions in the United States’ Bill of Rights draw from the Magna Carta, particularly from its 39th clause.

“The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings that we get from Exodus and St, Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul, ” President Harry S. Truman, 1950.

The 33rd president of the United States goes one step further, claiming that the foundation upon which the United States has based its laws comes directly out of the Bible.  As a World War I veteran and the Vice President to FDR, Truman who took office following Roosevelt’s death.  Under Truman’s leadership, World War II ended following the use of two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Less than a month after dropping these bombs, Japan surrendered.  Sometimes you have to use drastic measures to end worldly conflicts.  While Truman is still criticized today for this controversial decision, few will remember this president for his quote listed above.  Although modern historians glance over, ignore and suppress biblical influences on the founding of America, the Bill of Rights borrows from civil law within the ten commandments.

“Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord your God gives you.13 “You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).14 “You shall not commit adultery.15 “You shall not steal [secretly, openly, fraudulently, or through carelessness].16 “You shall not testify falsely [that is, lie, withhold, or manipulate the truth] against your neighbor (any person).17 “You shall not covet [that is, selfishly desire and attempt to acquire] your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor,” Exodus 20:12-17.

The ten commandments contain two separate categories, loving God and loving your neighbor, Matthew 22:36-39.  The first four provide instructions on how individuals can honor and please the Lord.  The final six focus on civil laws or as Jesus details in Matthew 22, loving your neighbor as yourself.  This is the foundation of the Golden Rule, “treating other people as you want to be treated.”  In this day and age, educators, lawyers and politicians often try to make the simple complex.  Yet, Jesus simplifies the fundamental basis for law so that even a young child can understand.  Every day God offers free will, giving people the option to love or hate, forgive or hold grudges, overlook offenses or magnify sin.  The choice is yours, but I pray that the Holy Spirit inspires you during this Christmas season to develop an overwhelming desire to love God and those you come in contact with daily.

by Jay Mankus

Kicking and Screaming

After one year of attending Channin Elementary School, within walking distance of my house, desegregation bused me into the city of Wilmington, Delaware.  For the next three years, Harlan Elementary became my new school home.  This drastic change was eye opening.  Whenever a student broke a rule, became disobedient or get caught doing something illegal, rarely did I hear, “my bad, I did it, I’m guilty.”  Instead, students were often dragged to the office, kicking and screaming, escorted by one or more administrators.

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another, Galatians 5:13.

Today, whenever someone feels like they have been treated unjustly, social media has become a popular site to air your grievances.  While there are many options to choose, Facebook and Twitter are filled with rants daily.  Instead of thinking before individuals press send, emotions stir the pot, building up until one final act boils over to form a vicious tweet.  Once posted, souls attempt to bite and devour one another, plummeting the gutter to an all time low.  While the prudent thing to do is walk away, the sinful nature can’t resist to pile on by fighting back.

But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another, Galatians 5:15.

The context of the two passages above are sandwiched by a verse referring to the Golden Rule, treating others as you want to be treated.  Jesus uses this principle at the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, adding a condition to forgiveness.  According to Matthew 6:14-15, your forgiveness is dependent upon how you treat and forgive others who trespass against you.  Jesus is clear, “if you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you.”  Near the end of this gospel, Matthew 25:30, Jesus reveals what will happen on judgement day to those who harbor bitterness. failing to forgive.  Not only will these unfortunate souls be dragged away, kicking and screaming, eternity will be spent weeping, wishing they would have chosen love over hatred.

by Jay Mankus

Maintaining Dignity

William Payne Stewart was a three time major champion on the Professional Golf Association tour.  Stewart’s life was cut short at the age of 42, dying in a plane crash after the crew succumb to hypoxia.  Early on in his golfing career, Stewart developed a reputation for being arrogant, brash and cocky.  Following the death of his father, Stewart began to contemplate the meaning of life.  According to his widow Tracey, Payne began to ponder his impact beyond golf.  This journey led Stewart to commit his life to Christ in his final years on earth.  During a conversation with his son, Payne inquired about the bracelet Aaron was wearing.  WWJD is an acronym for what would Jesus do?  This simple question helped Payne maintain dignity for the remainder of his life on earth.

Whoever strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also [simply ignore insignificant insults or losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity]. Whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either, Luke 6:29.

Unfortunately, dignity in the realm of politics is a dying breed.  In an attempt to win at all costs, allegations, campaign ads and debate clashes has turned political mud slinging into scenes from a Jerry Springer Show brawl.  Daily tweets from President Trump slamming one of his enemies only adds fuel to this fiery climate.  While independent studies have regularly found that ninety percent of articles, media coverage and news stories are negative, leaders must set the tone.  Participating in these endless back and forth disputes only distract from the president’s agenda.  Thus, at some point government officials must bite their tongues, practice self-control and walk away from the temptation to retaliate.

Give to everyone who asks of you.  Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you, Luke 6:30-31.

During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus introduces a concept to help individuals maintain dignity.  Following the golden rule, “doing to others as you want other to do unto you,” urges people to reflect upon each situation, putting yourself into their shows.  As you begin to think before you act, you will hopefully start treating others the way you expect and want to be treated.  My prayer is that president Trump will be open to following this biblical concept.  Although this may be foreign to his career as a builder and entrepreneur, displaying the golden rule could put out many of the political fires presently blazing out of control.  I’m not sure what the future holds, but if you want to maintain dignity, following the golden rule will turn enemies into friends.

by Jay Mankus

 

Don’t Go There or Else

There is a new movement emerging from members of the media, seeking to destroy naysayers, opponents and those possessing opposing worldviews.  This rush to judgment ignores the concept of innocent until proven guilty.  Instead of waiting until the facts to come out during a trial, the severity of recent accusations are more than enough to presume guilt.  Where did this mentality come from and what does the Bible say to address this issue?

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities, Psalm 103:10.

According to David, God does not treat human beings as they deserve.  According to Psalm 103:12, God’s love is infinite, “as far as the east is from the west.”  If God is willing to show forgiveness, grace and mercy to undeserving sinners, why is the mainstream media so quick to condemn.  Have the elite been offended by conservatives in the past?  Is this recent response some sort of pay back for previous hypocritical actions?  Whatever the reason, sometimes you have to use common sense by replying, “don’t go there.”

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times, Matthew 18:21-22.

There was an unspoken belief that forgiveness should be limited in the first century.  Sensing a good opportunity to address this topic, Jesus shares the parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  Attempting to shatter any stereotypes on forgiveness, Jesus illustrates God’s mercy on those who are unable to pay back earthly debts accrued over time.  God the Father bestows grace on those who beg for mercy.  Yet, lip service is disregarded unless individuals reciprocate mercy by doing to others as you want others to do unto you.  In other words, don’t go there or else.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 6:14-15.

The or else part of this equation was addressed by Jesus earlier in the book of Matthew.  At the conclusion of the portion of Scripture known as the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, Jesus emphasizes the conditional aspect of forgiveness.  Yes, I did say conditional, based upon how you treat other people.  In next chapter, Matthew 7 builds upon this concept proclaiming, ” the measure to which you judge others will be used against you.”  Therefore, despite whatever differences you may have against others, make sure your remember to live out the Golden Rule.  Don’t seek revenge or the grace of God will turn it’s back on you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

My Opening Monologue

Opening monologues are usually found at the beginning of cable and radio talk shows.  This serves as an outline for a daily program, guiding discussion for the day.  In the past few months, I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern.  While freedom of speech exists in theory, its appears that powerful figures within America fueled by a secular worldview are using exaggeration, gossip and lies to distort the truth.  Subsequently, alternative, conservative and progressive minds are waging war in the media attempting to gain the support of a majority of Americans.

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered, Proverbs 11:3.

Whether this is accomplished through hacking, leaking or spying on individuals, I’m surprised that no voice of reason has intervened.  Why hasn’t there been an outcry proclaiming, “we’ve gone too far.” What happened to honest civilized debates where the best and brightest ideas decide the outcome.  Rather, a lack of standards has caused cable news, print media and social media to invoke smear campaigns on anyone who does not hold their political view.  At some point, people are going to tune out completely.

To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people, Titus 3:2.

The apostle Paul has a plan to reverse this current trend of cruelty and mean spirited words.  First, don’t attack the person, address disagreements with dignity and respect.  Second, when you reach a point of tension, be gentle in the words that you chose.  Finally, follow the golden rule by treating others as you want to be treated with courtesy.  There will always be conflict, disagreements and power struggles, but if this is done in a civil manner, decency will be restored.  May these words give people a sense of hope for restoration and unity.

by Jay Mankus

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