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There is a special wall in the Oval Office of our Nation’s White House.  A tradition has followed one U.S. President after the next.  Both parties have found a common ground with the decoration on this wall.

Each elected president is welcome to change the portrait.  It is reserved for the past president that most inspires the current president as he assumes the duties of the most powerful office in the world.  This portrait is a reminder that all are human, all need inspiration from others and that great leaders are standing on the shoulders of others.

One of the most popular portraits has been Abraham Lincoln.  This portrait hung in the White House as an inspiration for President George W. Bush.  The 43rd President of the United States drew from the inspiration of this historic figure.

Lincoln certainly had his share of historical challenges.  The Civil War threatened to tear the nation apart.  Opinionated politicians on both sides of the war fragmented into local factions.

There was no shortage of animus that surrounded Lincoln.  He had to be courageous, shrewd and faithful.  Morals drove him.  Passion fueled him.  Faith directed him.

History paints him as an honest man.  He was honest to a fault.  Whether in public or private he chose not just a cliché to dictate his public leadership but genuine choices.

Once he was the postmaster of a small out-of-the-way post office.  He received word that budget restraints forced the decision to close several post offices around the nation.  His was one of them.

The end date of operations for his little post office was certain.  Lincoln complied precisely.  During his shut down of the office and locking it down, he set aside the remaining funds of a few dollars and some change.

Years later when the post master General caught up with each of the closures, he was pleasantly surprised that Lincoln handed over all of the proper paper work and the exact sum of several dollars and change that was rightfully the property of the US Government.  It had been years between the closure and the accounting.  That integrity followed Lincoln throughout his civil service and political years.

Leaders must be honest.  Every leader doing anything worth doing will run into opposition.  The truth will always be the best course.

Once the bad ones are left to history, the honest leaders will ultimately prevail.  Their success is never determined by their manipulation but by God’s directive grace.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Those who have given their lives to answer God’s call to ministry share a lot in common.  They do what they do for the glory of God, not pursuing selfish ambition or personal acknowledgement.  In fact those whom God has called focus their heart on the welfare of others.

The Apostle Paul was well aware of his own passion for others.  When he discovered that Titus had that same burden for the believers at Corinth, he commended him, recruited him and partnered with him for the benefit of the believers in that strategic Greek city.

Titus also gave Paul encouragement with his own enthusiasm.  Initiative is not an easy virtue to instill in someone else.  When God brings along someone who is a self-starter, it is a blessing to partner with them.

Furthermore, when someone has the acclamation of others in the church it is worthy of note.  When that same person is praised by a multiple number of churches, then pay very careful attention to God’s hand on that believer.  Trust with finances and seeking credit exclusively for the Lord are amazing virtues. 

When a saint has human adoration and personal achievement and is content with anonymity, then spiritual credentials are complete.  Humility at that level is unmatched.  Servants who are trusted to that level are commendable in the pages of Inspired Scripture.

Paul found not only one modest super star to call a co-laborer but two.  This unnamed brother has proven to be full of enthusiasm.  Furthermore, he is thrilled to be joining the team charged with delivering the financial gift.  He is thrilled to be serving the believers in Corinth.

This spiritual team has every intention of protecting the integrity of their mission.  They don’t want anyone to even give a thought to the honesty of their handling of the money.  Others have entrusted this valuable gift into their charge for a safe delivery and Paul has made every effort to assuage any of their fears.

Titus joins this trio of aides that Paul calls companions.   Together the three will serve the Lord and the believers of Corinth well.  Paul asks the saints in the church to demonstrate their love for them when they arrive.  The meeting of these two groups will be a celebration of joy and be an encouragement for the church to experience it.

2 corinthians 8.16-24

Criticism is a reality for those who dare to step up into leadership.  Accusations fly from the opposition camp.  The objective seems to be to discredit people who once held positions soon-to-be-vacant and seed the atmosphere with doubt over the next human to fill that gap.

This is true in our political season.  There is precious little that is commendable when it comes to the ugly strategy of character assassination among the political pundits.  The self-righteous judgmental disposition of those eager to influence the favored and disfavored is piled high ad nauseum and quite frankly wearies the soul of good people.

As accusations fly, innuendo multiplies and mud slings wildly, I imagine the hurt that falls on the souls of the innocent.  The spouses, children, friends and honorable bystanders become victims of the vicious and dirty-minded.  It is ugly.

The nature of an accuser is a filthy examination.  Why do people find it necessary to throw dirt?  What’s eating at their lives that drive them to hurt others?

When I was growing up, it was a bad thing to tattle on someone else.  But, back then the shady character of the nosey and those flinging criticism about someone else was established.  Today, the one who points the finger gets a pass or at least the benefit of the doubt that they are telling the truth.

I have looked into the shifting eyes of accusers.  They are obsessed to justify their subtle violence.  Most of the time they even attempt to fortify their dastardly deeds by playing the victim.

Then, I look into the eyes of the accused.  There is hurt, helplessness and bewildered.  Reason, logic and truth are elusive when the emotional drive of the accusers reveal their singular desire to inflict doubt, cause suspicion and raise questions.

Critics are not complicated.  They are simply base beasts.  The only truth represented in their lives is exaggeration.

Admittedly, they have a grip on some truth.  But, it is not worth the damage that they often cause.  It is called “piling on”.

Before long the truth is replaced by suspicion.  The shocking allegations are a downer.  Accusers don’t accomplish much with their lives that rival the pain that they impose on others. 

Why people get off on being a negative influence as their greatest contribution to life is a mystery.  The good thing is that true integrity is not the same as reputation.  Politics, it is so frustrating!

photo credit: google image

Faithful living is filled with painful moments.  But, in the big picture of life there is a unique confidence that the faithful can embrace.  This is not imaginary but truth born by a clear conscience.

Church leaders must be able to say that they have lived with holiness and sincerity.  Their words must match how they have lived.  The jury is not the opinion of a few but God alone determines the conscience.

Confidence in personal integrity is mutual.  On human terms that reciprocal dynamic is a symptom of truth.  God gives us the spirit of truth validated by His knowledge of us.

As a rule truth is understandable.  Clarity of pertinent issues is the basis for resolving disputes.  When the facts are made known, then resolution is possible.

Ultimately, when believers stand before God all truth will reign.  In the meantime God presses on with imperfect people doing His will.  His blessings cannot be imitated, fabricated or falsified.

Personal ministry that is face to face is an expression of true love.  Paul’s love for the believers at Corinth was not just in empty good sounding words but in interaction and fellowship.  Have you every heard someone tell another that they loved them but saw life actions that were just the opposite?

Our Christian faith does not know such falsehood.  Instead, what we say, we live.  Our word is our bond.  There is only devotion, loyalty and faithfulness.

Jesus Christ is all about blessing and making life work for all eternity.  He is not into judgment only.  The LORD is all about promises to us and making our lives a joy to live. 

Because of Christ every believer is now able to be certain and confident about their purpose in life.  All uncertainty about eternity is now cast aside without worry.  Faith is now the choice and seals the objective in life.

This is not just an emotional whim but a position that is verified by God’s initiative of anointing.  He has also placed His seal of ownership on each of our lives.  His Spirit dwells each of us as down payment of our guaranteed entrance into heaven.

While Paul is excited to be with the believers of Corinth, he would not do anything to jeopardize their walk in faith.  Paul is not taking credit for their faith either.  That is from God.  They verify their own spiritual stand with their tenacious faith.

2 corinthians 1.12-24

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