*The Sultan and Satan*
An ancient legend from the East tells of a great sultan who was a devout man of God. One morning he overslept. When the Devil saw that the hour of morning prayer was passing, he woke the sultan and urged him to get out of bed and pray.
“Who are you?” asked the startled sultan, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Oh, it’s not important,” replied the shady figure. “The important thing is that I woke you up in time, otherwise you would have missed your prayers for the first time in ten years-and it is very good to pray, isn’t it?”
“Yes, that is true!” replied the sultan smugly. “I wouldn’t dream of missing my prayer time. Not even once! … But wait a minute! I think I recognize you. Yes, I know your face. Of course! You are Satan, and no doubt you have some evil motive for your appearance!”
“I’m not really as bad as you think!” exclaimed the intruder. “After all, I was God’s right-hand angel once.”
“That is all very well,” replied the wise old sultan, “but you are also the Deceiver; that is your business! So I demand in the name of God to know why you want me to get up and pray!”
“Well,” replied the Devil, having grown huffy and impatient with the sultan’s persistence, “if you must know, I’ll tell you. If you had slept and forgotten your prayers, you would have felt very sorry for it afterward and would have been quite penitent. That would have humbled you and brought you close to God. But if you continue on as you have for the last ten years, without missing a single prayer, then you will become so satisfied with yourself that it will be worse for you than if you had missed one prayer and had asked God for forgiveness. God loves your fault mixed with repentance much more than your virtue seasoned with pride!”
Often it is actually good for us to make some mistakes because if we didn’t, we’d most likely become so proud of ourselves and so self-confident that we’d no longer feel we needed any help from God or others. But in reality, when we feel so proud and self-satisfied, it’s because we’re not closer to God, but more full of ourselves.
Many people in the world today are taught that pride is a virtue. But God recognizes pride and self-righteousness for what they really are-sins of the heart! The Bible says that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” and that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 16:18; James 4:6).
Quite frequently God uses our mistakes to help keep our pride in check, to keep us humble and more dependent on His goodness and strength, rather than our own. The Lord blesses humility. He gives more grace to the humble, and promises to dwell “with him who has a contrite and humble spirit” (1 Peter 5:5; Isaiah 57:15).
It has been said that out of what seems like defeat come some of God’s greatest victories. “But what kind of victory is that?” you may ask. Well, God very often uses humbling experiences to make us better people-more compassionate and understanding of the errors of others, more loving and patient, when otherwise we might not have been so. The Lord wants to use our mistakes to teach us many important lessons that perhaps we wouldn’t be able to learn any other way. So isn’t it encouraging to realize that even our failures can be for our good?
Of course, in order for the Lord to bring this good to pass, we must be honest with ourselves, be willing to confess our mistakes, and attempt to rectify them. The hardest words to say in any language are, “I was wrong!” This takes humility of the kind that only God can give, because it’s human nature to want to appear perfect and faultless, and consequently be unable to confess our mistakes.
But if we want the truth and desire God’s blessing, then we’ll honestly and humbly admit our faults and failings. Then we can take comfort in knowing that we are wiser today than we were yesterday. Contrary to what some folks seem to think, an admission of error is a sign of strength rather than weakness.
Besides, God knows you’re anything but perfect. In fact, He knows you can’t be perfect and never will be. So the crux of the matter is not whether you are perfect or not, but whether you depend on the Lord and His grace, love and mercy. Do you give Him all the glory and credit for anything good that you do? Whenever you accomplish something good, you should say, “Just thank Jesus. Don’t thank me! If I have done anything good, it’s only because the Lord helped me do so.”
A good rule to follow is this: Give God all the glory for anything good you do, and yourself the blame for anything bad. That will help keep you from falling into that horrible trap of self-righteous pride, which is the basis of virtually all sin.
So whenever you make a mistake and are then tempted to get down and discouraged, just remember the sultan’s lesson: God loves your fault mixed with repentance more than your virtue seasoned with pride!
A ZEN STORY
by a Zen Master
There once lived a great warrior.
Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger.
His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land
and many students gathered to study under him.
One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village.
He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master.
Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot
and exploit any weakness in an opponent.
He would wait for his opponent to make the first move,
thus revealing a weakness, and then
would strike with merciless force and lightning speed.
No one had ever lasted with him in a match
beyond the first move.
Much against the advice of his concerned students,
the old master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge.
As the two squared off for battle,
the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master.
He threw dirt and spit in his face.
For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse
and insult known to mankind.
But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm.
Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself.
Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.
Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth,
the students gathered around the old master
and questioned him.
“How could you endure such an indignity?
How did you drive him away?”
“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,”
the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”
Our destiny is determined by our philosophy and attitude.
What we do in the next five minutes is also
determined by our philosophy and attitude.
We can have good intentions but unless they are followed by action,
those good intentions remain no more than an illusion.
Our attitude needs energy to survive.
We must therefore allow it to bask in moments of regeneration.
We need only rest long enough to gain strength.
A positive mental attitude is the strength to drive
our actions forward.
When you say to a child, “I’ll be there in five minutes,”
but have no intention for half an hour or more
the child starts to lose respect.
As a parent you will mould your child into a future adult,
if you refuse to give the child attention the child
will use other influences to mould themselves.
words of wisdom ….
“A Strong Positive Mental Attitude will create
more Miracles than any wonder drug”.
“Strength does not come from winning.
Your Struggles develop your Strengths.
When you go through Hardships and opt
not to Surrender, that is Strength.”
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.