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Papers of Life

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We are judged not only by how well or how badly we answer our test papers at school and college and office but by how we acquit ourselves in our day-to-day experiences. Some of these require no exercise of our sense of right and wrong, make no appeal to our consciences, and involve no moral choices. They are simply routine matters which require a physical or mechanical response. But there are many occasions on which we must consider what is good and right and have made our decisions, we must act accordingly.

Other types of experiences are not so clear-cut, in that they place us in the dilemma of not being able to tell which the right course is, or of feeling that no matter which course we take, the outcome is likely to be harmful or disagreeable. It is simply a choice of the lesser of two evils. It is such experiences that are the real ‘test papers’ in life. For it is upon our making the correct responses and upon our unshakeable will to abide by them that our ultimate fate will depend. On the Day of Reckoning, all our correct answers will be measured against all our wrong answers. Only those who have made the correct moral decisions, and consistently followed them through, will find favor in the eyes of the Almighty. Those who have taken the wrong course, or who have simply run away from difficult situations, will fall from Divine Favour into eternal perdition.

But in situations in which the human mind and will seem too frail to be able to deal with overwhelming moral complexities, we should never lose sight of the fact that man does not stand alone: God is forever there, by his side. Man has only to turn to Him to receive Divine Succour. Once a man has put his trust in God, he finds that all his problems can be appropriately solved and that, in order to do what is right, he no longer feels any hesitation in embarking on courses which had previously struck him as too difficult, unpleasant or even dangerous. He is then armed with the knowledge that engaging in the right action gives one strength, and that adopting the wrong course can only bring about one’s downfall. Right action will take him closer to God and wrong action further away from Him. 

One who deliberately turns away from his Saviour will find himself in the hands of the devil, whereas one who turns to God will be given shelter and support, and guidance as to the correct response to give in any situation calling for principled behavior. Those who turn to Satan seldom realize that they are launching themselves on the downward path to self-destruction. 

Often, the experiences which we have in life are the result of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Pain and deprivation may be our lot because we are forced to live in poverty. That is all the more reason to curb our impatience and indignation and to show gratitude to God for whatever small mercies He has chosen to bestow upon us. One may, on the contrary, find oneself in a position of rank and affluence, in which case it is arrogance, overweening pride, and miserliness that have to be guarded against. Then one should go out of one’s way to be unfailingly humble and to be consistently generous in spending for God’s cause to the point of leaving oneself with nothing more to spend. Perpetual counting and accumulating of wealth must be avoided at all costs, for its glitter has such a mesmerizing effect that it begins to take the place of faith and religion. The lust for power must likewise be tamed and extirpated and one’s energies devoted instead to further the interests of others. 

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