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HOW TO FIND COMMON GROUND WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE AND BE HAPPY REGARDLESS OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES

Some people tend to lose sight of the importance of developing character qualities as taught by the Lord Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount. The following keys to happiness are especially valuable for those seeking to understand the root problems of the fighting fundamentalists. Some of you have had the benefit of learning about Corrie Ten Boom and her ordeal in a Nazi concentration camp during World War 2. In an article in Guideposts she tells a story of struggling to forgive her cruel captors. After the Nazis murdered her sister, Corrie said she was not able to forget that wrong done to her. Even though Corrie had forgiven the officer that gave the order to have her sister executed, she kept rehashing the incident in her mind. Many nights Corrie could not sleep. Finally, Corrie cried out to the Lord for help in resolving the problem.

Corrie wrote in her article, "The Lord's help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor to whom I confessed my failure to after two sleepless weeks. One morning, he took me in to see the church bell tower. The Lutheran pastor pointed to the bell and said, "Up in that church tower is a bell which is rung by pulling a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there is a final dong and it stops. I believe that same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we have been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we must not be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They are just the ding dong of the old bell slowing down." Corrie recalls, "And so it proved to be true. There were still a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations. But the force - which was my willingness in the matter - had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at last stopped altogether. And so I discovered another secret of forgiveness: we can trust God despite our feelings, but also above our own culturally conditioned perspectives."

In the following list of the beatitudes there is a contrast between those who are reflecting these character qualities of Christ and those who are self-destructing by rejecting these life giving traits:

1A. Blessed are the poor in spirit - Jesus is saying that happiness comes from recognizing that we are humanly sinful, in debt to God for everything, and will find our sufficiency only in His grace. By admitting that we are dependent on the Lord for everything, we are giving Christ His rightful place as Lord of our life. When trials come to the poor in spirit they are quick to turn the controls of their life to God's care.

1B. Unhappy and unblessed are the proud, self-sufficient, and self-righteous who have a hard time admitting that they are sinful and need the Lord's grace. These folks have a hard time acknowledging that the Lord is the giver of every good and perfect thing. Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling. The unhappy struggle to forgive."


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