Family Feud Revisited

“We asked 100 people to name someone who is always right.”

Quick! What are your top answers?

Yes, again I found myself at my mother’s during the Family-Feud evening marathon, volume at the “aircraft carrier deck” level. When I couldn’t ignore the blare of the show, I decided to play along to this question. I guessed that the top answer would be husband or wife. That one was on the list, as was mother. Both of them were quite a ways down.

Eventually, the family playing struck out, offering some singularly foolish suggestions. The other team attempted to “steal” the points. They also failed, leaving several undisclosed answers, including numbers one and two.

Steve Harvey, as he does each game, marched from the highest-numbered unrevealed items to the lowest. What on earth would be in places one and two? I was legitimately curious.

Harvey called out, “Number two,” and the answer popped over: “God/Jesus.” That had been my guess, the one that I wanted somebody to say. If I remember correctly, the score was 30, a pretty respectable number, although it had to be disappointing for somebody who created the universe in six days.

But what on earth could be number one? Who could be named more often as “someone who is always right”? Obligingly, the host called out, “Number one.” Again the answer was revealed. There it was, having been mentioned by 37 people.

“Me.”

“Me”! Nearly 25% more people named themselves as “someone who is always right” than mentioned God.

And therein lies the problem with this world. We, far too often, think that we know better than God knows. It’s not shocking that we think ourselves smarter than football coaches or government officials or doctors, but can we really think ourselves more often right than God?

Before you start wagging your finger at those terrible heathen who answered the Family Feud survey, let’s look at our own lives. Do we really behave as if we think that God knows better? Don’t rush to answer before reading these verses from James.

My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. –James 1:19-20

Or

Don’t criticize one another, brothers and sisters. Anyone who defames or judges a fellow believer defames and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. –James 4:11

Do you believe these things? Are they right? “Well . . .yeah, but . . .” Honestly that score of 30 that God received on Family Feud was probably higher than how people–and by people I mean you and me much of the time–actually behave.

Who do you really listen to? Survey says . . .

Rule #4: Set specific intentions

torah-scrollI have been exploring the individual rules listed in an article called “Ten Rules Fit People Live By,” evaluating each of them in the light of Biblical teaching. You can check out Rule #1, Rule #2, or Rule #3. Today, we get to examine rule #3: Set specific intentions. Here’s how the author explains this rule.

The more detailed your daily goals and plans, the better. In his book, Harper cites an English study on women enrolled in a weight loss program: The researchers asked about half of their subjects to write down their strategies for managing temptation (for example, When sugar cravings strike, I will make a cup of tea). After two months, those women had lost twice as much weight as women in a control group.

On the surface, this rule seems like a great idea. I’m a goal-oriented person. I set goals (or objectives or plans) for the day, the week, the month, and the year. For example, I have a goal for calorie intake for today. My goal is simple. I’m going to eat no more than 1,750 calories plus one half of the calories I burn through exercise. When I exercised this morning, I burned about 980 calories, so I will allow myself 490 extra calories to be eaten. At the end of the day, my calorie count should be less than 2,240. Good goal, right? It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timed. It’s S.M.A.R.T.! Yesterday, I didn’t meet that goal, going a bit bananas as I watched recorded episodes of NCIS before heading to bed. Still, the goal was good and serves me almost every day.

Similarly, I never go out to run without a distance and/or a pace in mind. I don’t lift weights without knowing what exercises I’ll do at what weights and what reps. Goals are good, especially when they help us with things that could get lost in imprecision. For example, it’s a lot easier to say I’ll eat no more than 2,240 calories than to say, I’ll “eat right” or “cut back a bit.”

Goals are biblical. In Proverbs 21:5, we are admonished, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty,” while Jesus shared the peculiar little parable about building  tower in Luke 14:28: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”

But goals can become an end in themselves. I think that’s why James 4:13-15 warns us about getting too involved in our goals and plans:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

I think the same basic message lies behind the parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12. We set goals. We try to achieve our goals. Sometimes we make it; sometimes we don’t, but trying is a good thing. When, however, those goals become our god, when our goals replace the goals God would establish for us, then we’re just as guilty of idolatry as those who bow down to Baal.

So in the end, rule #4 is a good one but one that can be misapplied. Remember that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Absent that, there are no wise goals.