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A Beautiful Mind (# 4)
by David Smith
". . . whatever is right . . . think about such things." (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

"Grammar? What grammar? I assure you, I have no grammar. You must have me confused with someone who knows the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs."

Now don't misunderstand me, I'm certainly not proud of the fact that my grammar skills leave something to be desired. But I'm not terribly embarrassed about it either. It's something that just is. Actually, to me, it's a bit amusing. I mean, here I am, a man with an advanced degree and who speaks for a living - and I have precious little sense of grammar. What wonderful irony (us speech major types just love irony - and love to yank English teachers' chains)!

Some English teachers' comment to me (while looking over the top of their glasses): "You must have been a poor student in school." Hurumph! Clearly, English teachers are not omniscient. My south Texas friends say: "It's obvious you were raised in Oklahoma and spent some time in Arkansas." I respond: "God shows no partiality and real Christians don't either." I've been told others have said behind my back: "That's just an act he puts on. He can speak and write better than he lets on." Ha! Such a conclusion assumes they've seen proof to the contrary - and I seriously question whether anyone ever has, for I haven't! For I am truly as Popeye used to say: "I am what I am."

As for me, I think the teachers are mostly right. But it's not so much the fact I was a poor student (I really wasn't). I say it was the system in place at the time. When I went through school, grammar was evidently a censored subject. We didn't study grammar; all we did for twelve years was read, read, read (and I don't mean "the classics" either). I assume the theory was that were supposed to pick up grammar by osmosis.

Well, I'm here to tell ya' - it didn't work.

Well, by now I suspect you're getting a little impatient. You're thinking: "I didn't subscribe to this list to read about you. What does this have to do with thinking about 'whatever is right'?"

Good question! Let me tell you.

My "righteousness" - and yours - comes across to God the same way my grammar comes across to English teachers. Anything but "right"!

In a few words - my righteousness, and yours, is a moral bust. You can say: "I've never done _______." But what does it matter, for you know full well you've done something else! I'm not perfect. Neither are you. In the present tense or otherwise.

Only One has ever walked this planet who did it all right. There's Only One who isn't morally busted. His name is Jesus and He's the One who makes everything "right".

And I'm here to tell ya' - and I'm living proof - we'll never be "right enough" to please God all by ourselves. We can conjugate and equivocate. We can exclaim otherwise in an infinitive way. But we can never reach a point where our paper doesn't need some serious correcting. For what each of us desperately needs in our life are the red marks of Jesus Christ upon our soul. What we all need is the exclamation cross of Christ imbedded in our mind.

When we submit to the rule of Jesus Christ in our life, we come to learn that he loves us too much to leave us as we are. He corrects us. He calls us to a higher plane. He shapes us and teaches us the way of life more perfectly. And no matter that we'll never get all the t's crossed or the i's dotted, He constantly encourages and expects us to live lives worthy of His name - and empowers us to do so in the process. And that means living right in Christ.

I need to think about such things. I need to fill my head with what I know is the right way to live. Then I need to work at it, practice it, live it. For if I don't grow in holiness and moral uprightness, I can't blame the system or anyone else. I can't blame my English teachers. It is my personal responsibility to grow and improve. To work at doing it right.

Sort of like my grammar.

Just infinitely more important.

Eternally so.

"He who does what is right is righteous . . ." (1 John 3:7 NIV)

". . . whatever is right . . . think about such things." (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

God, You know my life is a mess. I ask, I beg, Your forgiveness. May a greater desire to improve my spiritual grammar grow within me. May my mind think of Jesus correctly and may my words and ways communicate Him clearly. Help me to focus on the things that are right and help me to live those things out. I ask this in His name. Amen.

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