Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Middle Ground: The Best Status In Life

The wisest of all men, Solomon, recommends that the best in life is to stay on the middle ground, Solomon said:

Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise - why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool - why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes” (Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 NIV).

We must have noticed that when the weather is extremely cold or extremely hot, it is not good. I had the opportunity to be in Chicago, U.S.A. from September to December in 2007. It was a snowy weather that the trees and the grasses are covered with snow. It was extremely cold, specially to Filipinos like me. On the other hand, I had also the opportunity to be in Sydney, Australia one December in 1997. It was extremely hot! We have to run inside the building where there is airconditioning. I remember in April 1988, I was a delegate to the Foursquare Gospel Church International Convention. It was springtime in California, U.S.A. It was neither cold nor hot. I enjoyed my vacation with my wife.

Experience is the best teacher. I said to myself, “there is no place better than my beloved Philippines where I was born,” where it is neither very hot nor very cold. In such kind of weather, it is much easier to survive and less expensive and less tiresome to live in comfort.

In Proverbs 30:7-9 (NIV), the Bible says:

7Two things I ask of you. O Lord; do not refuse me before I die;
8Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
9Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘who is the LORD?’ or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

What did the great Apostle Paul say?

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Tim 6:8 NIV).

The Apostle is right. To me, the best stature in life is neither very rich nor very poor.

The LORD Jesus Christ is our best example. In those days, there were no Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce or Toyota or Mitsubishi cars. They had only Camels which could be the equivalent of Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce of today. But what ride did Jesus Christ select? He selected a donkey which could be the equivalent of our small cars of today. Small cars are very much less expensive in gas and in tires. It is much easier to find a parking place; they are means of transport for men of humility. It is godly and always good to be humble. The Lord Jesus said, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt. 23:12 NIV). 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Key To Success In Life

With the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “… in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). God, speaking through King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, said: “Do you see a man diligent in his business? \He shall stand before kings” (Proverbs 22:29).

What does Solomon mean by diligence? It is “careful and persistent work or effort. It is conscientiousness or industriousness in doing ones work or activity.” The synonyms of diligence are: meticulousness, conscientiousness, thoroughness and carefulness. In Tagalog, “plansado.” Solomon adds, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it be right” (Prov. 20:11). Why a child? Because a child is innocent and has no intention of doing evil things. Why doing? Because it is not enough that we think or dream about it. We must do it – and do it the right way.

Diligence is a learnable skill that combines creative persistence, a working effort rightly planned and rightly performed in a timely, efficient, and effective manner to attain a result that is pure and of the highest degree or quality of excellence. In other words, diligence is a skill that can be developed by any one, young or old, educated or uneducated, poor or rich, brilliant or not. It is available to anybody willing to acquire the skill. But mind you, it is a tedious task and time-consuming and cannot be attained overnight, but the reward is what everybody is dreaming - success in life - - financially, socially and whatever we dream of!

Solomon said, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall not stand before mean men (or ordinary) men”.

The Lord Jesus is the best example of a diligent worker. Thus, the Bible says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:15 NIV).

My personal experience (as I used to say, “experience is the best teacher”) was that as an ordinary member of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which in those days had a membership of three hundred businessmen, professionals and government officials, upon the sponsorship by my bosom friend and co-incorporator in 1973 of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (Philippines) Inc., the late Rey R. de Leon, who was then the Executive Vice President of the Chamber, I was inducted as member and was first appointed as Assistant Secretary, then elected as the Corporate Secretary. I held on this position for a long time, perhaps because the members and officers perceived my diligence, until I was elected Vice-President for professional and business ventures. Thereafter, I was elected President for two terms, and then Chairman of the Board for one term. My privilege as a former President and Chairman of the Board are free membership for a lifetime; free meals and special table with other former Presidents and Chairmen of the Board during any function of the Chamber, also for a lifetime. By the way, during my term, the Davao City Chamber was awarded the accolade “The Best Chamber in Asia-Pacific”.

As President of the Chamber and later as Chairman of the Board, I had the privilege to have handshakes with President Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph E. Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Indeed, the Bible is true that “a man diligent in his business… shall not stand before mean men but before kings.” Solomon was right! The Bible is true! How did I attain such “success” if we may call it that way? Purely through “diligence” in performing my assigned task.

In my younger days as a lawyer, Davao City RTC Judge Antonio Martinez awarded me a substantial attorney’s fee. The opposing counsel moved for a reconsideration of the award complaining that the award was too much. In denying the motion, the Judge said, “Atty. Cariaga, a young and diligent lawyer, deserves the attorney’s fee awarded by this court.” Judge Martinez was later promoted as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

By God’s grace, I was recommended by the Davao City Chamber to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, which, in turn, recommended me to the President of the Philippines for appointment as the business sector representative in the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) for Region XI. I am serving in that capacity from President Fidel V. Ramos’ term up to this day, with my latest re-appointment by President Noynoy Aquino effective June 1, 2014 to expire five years after.

Our interview and appearances in TV from time to time especially during clamor for minimum wage adjustments in Region XI, have made me known not only to the business and labor community but to all people where the TV program reaches. One time, clothed in a simple plain white T-shirt without collar, I bought bananas from a sidewalk vendor. The owner addressed me, “Attorney.” I asked her why do you know me as an attorney? She answered with a winsome smile, “I always see you on TV.” I also smiled to acknowledge the goodness and favor of God for the free advertisement, so to speak. It pays to be diligent more especially in the business of the LORD God Almighty. Praise God!

Our business in FGBMFI is God’s business and command: “Go into all the world and preach the good news (gospel) to all creation”. (Mark 16:15 NIV) or the Great Commission “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations … teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you …” (Matt. 28:19-20 KJV). Notably, our FGBMFI bulletin is circulated all over the world, particularly the articles with blog. Let us be diligent in our business whether spiritual or secular to succeed in life for the glory of God.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Richest Man Who Ever Lived

The Bible records the riches of King Solomon as follows:

14The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents (about 25 tons), 15not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the territories.
16King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred bekas of gold (about 3.5 kilograms) went into each shield. 17He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas (about 1.7 kilograms) of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.
18Then the king made a great throne covered with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. 19The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. 20Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom. 21All King Solomon’s goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days. 22The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.
23King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 24The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 25Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.
26Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 27The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.”
(1 Kings 10:14-27 NIV)

Indeed, King Solomon by human standard was not only very rich, he was the richest of all men. Why was it so? Because of the wisdom bestowed upon him by God, and he applied that wisdom. And this wisdom was asked by Solomon from God. The Bible says:

5At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you’.”

x x x x x x x x x
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:7-14 NIV)
The Bible defines wisdom as the ability to discern or know by an understanding heart between good and bad (1 Kings 3:9 KJV). It further elaborates:

29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.” (1 Kings 4:29-30 NIV)

God said, through Solomon:

10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
    knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
    and nothing you desire can compare with
12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
    I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
    I have insight, I have power.
15 By me kings reign
    and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
    and nobles—all who rule on earth.[a]
17 I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
    enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
    what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
    along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me  and making their treasuries full.”
(Prov. 8:10-21 NIV)

How important is this wisdom to our daily life? Solomon said:

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.” (Proverbs 4:7-10 KJV)

Like King Solomon, we should ask (pray) for wisdom, not silver or gold or wealth. If we have wisdom, the silver and gold, a discerning heart … to distinguish between right and wrong, wealth and honor, and long and satisfying life will follow just like night follows day. We can never be the richest man because it is written that label belongs to King Solomon alone, but we can be wealthy not only materially, physically and spiritually to some comfortable degree and be honorable disciple of God (in person, Jesus Christ). Stated otherwise, we shall be Christlike. The best of the best status in life now and in the world beyond.