Former President Jimmy Carter recently paraphrased Jesus’ half-brother James, “If your life is not filled with peace, joy and thanksgiving, it’s your fault.” Oh, come on, how can that be?
President Carter goes on to explain that God gives us life and freedom. Further, “With our freedom, every one of us can make a basic decision. …What kind of person do I, myself, choose to be?” Hm, he has a good point. God gave us the freedom of choice, but it’s up to us to select a path—whether a new path or redirected path. I’d say that President Carter long ago chose to follow a path clearly guided by Christ. His words were very inspiring to me!
The Coeur d’Alene Press recently published an article by Travis Loller (AP) about how well 95-year-old President Carter was doing after suffering a fall that required 14 stitches and gave him a nasty-looking black eye. And, by the way, this fall at home happened shortly before working on constructing a Habitat for Humanity home in Nashville, Tennessee! He and his wife, Rosalynn, have been building homes for Habitat for over 35 years in the United States and globally. And, No, on this most recent work, he didn’t just hang back and supervise (as one might think a 95-year-old would have the well-earned right to do); he dug right in building supporting corbels for this home. At 95! And the reporter interviewed him at only one of the 21 homes being constructed in Nashville by the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project for Habitat. Hm … What a slug I am! What have I done lately based on the role model and love shown by Jesus Christ?
President Carter went on to tell Loller that every person, “can be a complete success in the eyes of God.” God surely considered his son Jesus Christ a complete success, even though he was poor, died young, and was abandoned by his closest friends.
Regardless of whether you were a fan of President Carter or whether you know Jesus Christ, these are inspirational words! Former President Theodore Roosevelt tried to buoy Americans by encouraging them to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. Just think how much farther we can be lifted when we’re lifting ourselves up by following in Jesus Christ’s footsteps!
In the Bible, James encouraged us to, “Consider it pure joy … whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) It certainly seems that Carter has persevered—and is still persevering—in the way he has led and is still leading his life. Black eye? Stitches? 95 years old? Wow! I have more work to be done in the name of Christ!
We are given such sage advice in the Bible for living a Godly life! Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if everyone read and followed those words?
Consider more words from James. “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (1:19-20). “…Don’t show favoritism…. If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” (2:1, 8)
Our Deacons provide a ready example of acting out of faith. They reach out to the homebound; they aid struggling neighbors; they serve fellow congregants; and much more. President Carter has spent a lifetime studying God’s word, and it shows through his actions and his words. I need to take a moment to pause and reflect on what actions I’ve taken that reflect the love that Christ has shown to me … I’m pretty sure I have much work yet to do.
There is so much wise advice in the Bible that probably we should refer to it often and read its words regularly. I find the examples and parables help me understand the advice and more readily try to apply the lessons to my own life. And, how easy it is for me to drift into complacency and self-indulgence: I need the Bible’s reminders in my life! And nudges from those who lead a Godly life further help me along the right path.
These words by Carter resonate, “…Jesus lived a perfect life because he followed the will of God.” Perhaps if I remember to always act out of the love of Christ and show that in all I do, it will help me become a complete success in God’s eyes when I reach those Pearly Gates.
Your friend in Christ,