從時間和經驗得來的觀點──PERSPECTIVES FROM TIME AND EXPERIENCE

MONDAY MANNA

幾個月前我省察了自己七十二歲的生日,促使我停下來思考:我已經看著地球繞太陽轉了七十二圈。七十二年前,我不知道鏡頭在照相機的哪一端、不知道如何拿吉他、如何騎腳踏車,甚至也不能自己進食。我出生時,甚至不會走路或說話。這些技能都是在我活著的這些年,花了很多努力才獲得的。

學習的過程是無止境的。 七十二年前,我連湯匙都拿不穩,但現在我每天持續學習各種營養,並發現新的食物和美食。小時候我學騎腳踏車時,連騎到人行道的另一端都困難,但現在我甚至可以考慮騎550英里遠(885公里-幾乎環繞台灣一圈),生活就是持續的學習和成長。

對於過去七十年中我們世界發生的變化,都不缺乏報導。科技發展幾乎改變了我們可以觸及的一切。但是,除了不駐足在改變中,我更深入思考了一些沒有改變的重要事物。以下是我的一些觀察結果:

誠信仍然很重要。自人類開始互動以來,待人接物的誠實和公平一直是社會的基石。正如箴言10章9節所說的:「行正直路的,步步安穩;走彎曲道的,必致敗露。 」

我們是社會性的受造物。我們是為彼此而造的。試圖孤立自己或築起高牆總會以災難告終。這適用於個人、組織和國家。我們有不同的經驗、技能和個性。每個人都要共同合作,貢獻自己的天賦,才能促成一個繁榮的社會和一個合宜的世界。「兩個人總比一個人好,因為二人勞碌同得美好的果效。…三股合成的繩子不容易折斷。」(傳道書4章9-12節)

我們不能成為自己想成為的一切,但我們可以做的比自己想像的還要多。二十年前,我與著名音樂老師傑夫·纽曼(Jeff Newman)在一起時,他說了一些話讓我畢生難忘:「天份是那些不願意努力工作的人,用來形容那些有成就的人所使用的詞。」聖經是這樣說的:「諸般勤勞都有益處;嘴上多言乃致窮乏。」(箴言14章23節)

我們是什麼樣的人取決於…:我們的朋友是誰、我們讀了什麼書、我們所聽的音樂,以及我們所看的電視節目,完全不是我們出生的地方,甚至不是天生的能力。我們是什麼樣的人和我們如何塑造思想有關。「弟兄們,我還有未盡的話:凡是真實的、可敬的、公義的、清潔的、可愛的、有美名的,若有甚麼德行,若有甚麼稱讚,這些事你們都要思念。」(腓立比書4章8節)

即使起跑時落後,我們也能好好的比賽。皮膚的顏色、學校的品質和父母的性格可能會決定我們開始人生競賽的起跑點,但只要時間夠長,在良好的指導下,這些事情對最終的結果沒有多大影響。賽車告訴我們即使內側跑道也並不總是最好的起點。「殷勤籌劃的,足致豐裕;行事急躁的,都必缺乏。」(箴言21章5節)

上帝希望我們能盡可能多看祂創造的美麗世界。我認為旅行和體驗其他文化是一件重要的事,能打破偏見、固執、無知和思想的侷限。透過別人的眼光看這個世界與自己所見會截然不同。聖經給出了一個非常好的建議:「凡事不可結黨,不可貪圖虛浮的榮耀;只要存心謙卑,各人看別人比自己強。各人不要單顧自己的事,也要顧別人的事。」(腓立比書2章3-4節)

©2021 JimMathis是堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克的作家,攝影師和企業主。他的最新著作是《駱駝和針The Camel and the Needle》,《基督徒看財富和金錢A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money》。他曾任堪薩斯州堪薩斯城和密蘇里州堪薩斯城的CBMC咖啡店經理和執行理事。

反省與問題討論

  1. 不管我們年紀多大,生活都可以教會我們重要且通用的真理。你曾經從生活中學到了哪些深遠的功課?
  2. 在年少時我們必須學習哪些技能:例如本文作者說的: 簡單的步行、飲食和騎自行車…,而這些技能能夠在晚年讓我們做自己想做的事?
  3. 為什麼我們看到也經歷了許多技術和社會變革,但有些事物卻似乎從不會改變呢?你是否認為有某些層面的「人類狀態」是亙古不變,甚至長存的?解釋你的答案。
  4. 在這個星期的週一嗎哪中,作者引用了一些聖經經文來支持他的看法。你能想到一生中那些經文對你來說特別重要嗎? 

備註:如果你有聖經,想閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考:

箴言11章3節
11:3 正直人的純正必引導自己;奸詐人的乖僻必毀滅自己。
箴言13章6節
3:6 行為正直的,有公義保守;犯罪的,被邪惡傾覆。
傳道書9章10節
9:10 凡你手所當做的事要盡力去做;因為在你所必去的陰間沒有工作,沒有謀算,沒有知識,也沒有智慧。
以弗所書4章29節
4:29 污穢的言語一句不可出口,只要隨事說造就人的好話,叫聽見的人得益處。
希伯來書10章24-25節
10:24 又要彼此相顧,激發愛心,勉勵行善。
10:25 你們不可停止聚會,好像那些停止慣了的人,倒要彼此勸勉,既知道(原文是看見)那日子臨近,就更當如此。
希伯來書 13章8節
13:8 耶穌基督昨日、今日、一直到永遠,是一樣的。


PERSPECTIVES FROM TIME AND EXPERIENCE

By Jim Mathis

Observing my 72nd birthday several months ago caused me to pause for some reflection: I have seen the earth make 72 laps around the sun. Seventy-two years ago, I did not know which end of a camera to look through, how to hold a guitar, how to ride a bike, or even how to feed myself. When I was born, I could not even walk or talk. All of those skills I have acquired with much effort over the years.

But the process is unending. I could not hold a spoon 72 years ago, yet I am still learning about nutrition and discovering new foods and cuisine. I had to learn to ride my bicycle to the end of the sidewalk before I could consider going on a 550-mile ride. Life is about learning and growing.

Much has been written about the changes that have taken place in our world over the past seven decades. Technology has changed virtually everything we can touch. Instead of dwelling on the changes, however, I pondered some important things that have not changed. Here are some of my observations:

Integrity still counts. Being honest and fair in our dealings has been the bedrock of society for thousands of years, ever since humans began interacting with each. As Proverbs 10:9 observes, “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”

We are community creatures. We were made for each other. Attempts to isolate ourselves or build walls always end in disaster. This applies to individuals, organizations, and nations. We all have different experiences, skills, and personalities. We all need to work together, bringing our own gifts to the table, to have a thriving society and a decent world to live in. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

We cannot be everything we want to be, but we can be more than we think we can. Twenty years ago, I spent time with famed music teacher, Jeff Newman. He said something I have never forgotten: “Talent is the word used by people who don’t want to work to describe those that do.” The Scriptures state it this way: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).

Who we are is determined by: who our friends are, the books we read, the music we listen to, and the TV shows we watch. It is not where we were born, or even innate abilities. It is about how we shape our minds. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

We can run a good race even starting at the back of the pack. The color of our skin, the quality of our schools, and the character of our parents may determine how we start in the race of life, but in a long enough race and with good coaching, those things do not matter much in the final outcome. Auto racing shows us the pole position may not always be the best place to start. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).

God wants us to see as much of His beautiful world as we can. Travel and experiencing other cultures, I have learned, is the one thing that breaks down prejudices, bigotry, ignorance, and small thinking. Seeing the world through the eyes of others makes a tremendous difference. The Bible gives this excellent advice: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

© 2021. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. Regardless of how old we are, life can teach us important, even universal truths. What are some of the enduring lessons you have already learned in life?
  2. What are skills you had to learn early in life – such as the simple things of walking, eating, and bicycle riding that Mr. Mathis cites – that have enabled you to do things you wanted to do later in life?
  3. Why is it, despite the many technological and social changes we see and experience around us, that some things never seem to change? Do you think there are some aspects of the “human condition” that are unchangeable or immutable? Explain your answer.
  4. In this “Monday Manna,” Mr. Mathis includes some Bible passages that affirm his observations? Can you think of any Scripture passages that have become especially significant for you over your lifetime?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 11:3, 13:6; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Ephesians 4:29; Hebrews 10:24-25, 13:8



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