01/29/05 — Rules for living — Partaking of the fruit

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Rules for living — Partaking of the fruit

Here are some guidelines for those who seek happiness for themselves and for their neighbors.

Love others. That doesn’t mean you have to like everyone you meet. Some people are crude, shiftless or mean — just not very appealing. But all are our kin. Look on them as individuals. Reject stereotypes and prejudices. Be open to understanding. Don’t be judgmental.

We are told that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. Fortunately, few of us are called on to die for a friend. Instead, the mandate is to live for them.

If anyone has committed an offense against you, forgive it. If you have offended someone, ask for forgiveness. As long as you hold anger in your heart, you will never enjoy peace to the degree that it is available to you.

Other than that, don’t look back. Once you have repented and sought forgiveness, don’t dwell on your wrongs. Don’t be robbed of your joy by worrying over things that you can’t change.

Hold your temper. Impatience — in your home, in a traffic jam, at work — will cause stress and turmoil within your body. Even when you are wronged, breathe deeply and don’t be overcome by frustration. The things you say and do when you lose control of yourself will put you on a direct road to grief.

Put others first. Rick Warren writes in his book “The Purpose-Driven Life” that the best test of our spiritual maturity is whether we give precedence to other people’s needs rather than our own.

To live by these rules is to partake of the fruit of the Spirit. It is healthy, delicious and genuinely satisfying.

And it helps to bring order, simplicity and harmony into the community that we share.

This is serious stuff, not just pretty platitudes to read and put out of your mind. It is a message that really counts.

Published in Editorials on January 29, 2005 10:37 PM