Saturday, October 21, 2006

Attitude leakage

Some years ago, I was asked to help diagnose a system crash in a pre-release version of my then-current employer's timesharing operating system. When I saw what the problem was, I could hardly believe my eyes.

I called one of the managers in the other division to ask, politely as I could, how in the world such a bizarre code change could have been approved by their review process, what kind of review process did they have there anyway, and didn't they do any testing at all before sending their pile of junk to other divisions so we could do their testing for them?

Of course there is no polite way to ask that; I needed to change my attitude before talking to anybody because as long as I think they're a bunch of clowns, my bad attitude will leak out all over the place.

It was around this time that I first noticed something about today's reading:
All who are under the yoke as slaves should consider their masters as worthy of all respect, that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered.
1 Timothy 6.1
What I noticed was this: It doesn't tell slaves to treat their masters as worthy of all respect; it says to consider their masters as worthy of all respect. Because if they don't consider their masters as worthy of respect, their attitude will leak out and cause trouble, mostly for the slaves.

By the way, I don't think this passage says the New Testament condones slavery; rather, it's saying that for anyone who finds himself or herself in this situation, here's how you should handle yourself.

Anyway, what I take away from this is that my attitude is very important as I deal with people -- I can't paper over a bad attitude by trying to act polite.

But how can we change our attitude? The short answer is by pursuing contentment, as Paul tells us in verses 6-9. Even if we're not concerned about getting piles of money, what he says there can help us with being content because we'll have a saner perspective on whatever is worrying us. In the above example, I could have remembered that I make mistakes too, and that the fellow on the other end of the phone was created in God's image and worthy of professional respect besides.

May God help us to have his perspective on the value of people vs things, and to think correctly about what really matters in life.

An often misquoted or misinterpreted verse

Also from today's reading:
... the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
1 Timothy 6.10
Here are two misquotations I have heard:
  1. Money is the root of all evil.
    Wrong because it says it's the love of money that Paul is talking about here, not money itself.
  2. The love of money is the root of all evil.
    Also wrong, because it doesn't say that every problem in the world comes from the love of money. Rather, the point is that the love of money causes all kinds of trouble -- not "all the evil there is", just "all kinds of evil." Which I suppose is evil enough.

written 10/21; posted 10/22 when the server was no longer swamped

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