“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15
Simple faith does not mean simplistic faith. Christianity can be complex; for example, our full understanding of the Godhead three in one, will not happen this side of heaven. There will always be a mysterious shroud around the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why simple faith in Him is necessary to receive the revelation of His truth found in the Holy Bible.
Jesus made it simple when he described becoming like a little child in order to enter into His Kingdom. Small children can clearly see simple truths because they are unencumbered by the complexities of adult living. Because of their humility and honesty they are able to listen to the Lord’s teachings about sinful man and our need for a Savior. For a child, loving Jesus is an opportunity to be loved. They can easily accept God’s gift of His only son, Jesus, for their salvation. Thus, childlike faith in Christ is your bridge to God.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:16-17).
Don’t miss meeting the Lord in simple faith because of the pain or problems you have encountered in this world. There is no lasting peace to be found on earth. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Your part is to confess faith in Jesus Christ and His part is to forgive you of your sin and give you eternal life in heaven. The Bible teaches, “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
Prayer: Have I simply placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of my sins? Have I made public my confession through baptism and engagement with a community of believers?
“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12).
True love forgives, regardless of the infraction, because it transcends mistreatment. So, what is your process for forgiveness? Is it conditional, based on the way you are treated, or is it unconditional? Hatred has no hope but to stir up dissension and rally a defense. However, love looks at being wronged as an opportunity to replace insult with encouragement. Love seeks to lead all parties into a better place of health and happiness.
Indeed, hatred is not at home in a heart of love. It sows discord, while love plants peace. It embraces enmity, while love cuddles compassion. Hate stirs up, but love calms down. How do you handle those who are hard to be around? Perhaps out of love you serve them. Seek to serve, rather than be served.
“Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 NASB).
Furthermore, love forgives because you have been forgiven by the matchless love of God. It is the Lord’s love toward you that empowers you to lovingly forgive another. Human love alone is unable to love without boundaries. Left to our own limited love, we only love those who love us. Jesus said, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much” (Matthew 5:46 NLT).
Therefore, look at love as an opportunity to give others what they don’t deserve. Lean on the Lord as your source of unconditional love. Christ’s love is all-inclusive and all-forgiving. In the same way, actively and appropriately love those in your life; with a kind word, a nice note of appreciation, a thoughtful gift, or a listening ear. How do you harness love into a habit of forgiveness?
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NLT).
Prayer: Whom do I need to love, forgive, and serve in honor of God’s great love?
I don't claim to be a Biblical scholar. I do not claim to be an authority on doctrine or theology but I do know that in my 18 years of being a Christian and reading the Bible I am yet to find someone who was a "superstar" because of their association with Jesus. Yes, some of them had notoriety, but it always turns to rejection by the world. Yet, in today's "Christian" world we strive to be accepted by the world and to have notoriety and well.. to be superstars. I have been guilty of this too...but why? Why do I crave the acceptance of the world? Why do I long for the world to hold me in high esteem? Now, before you start your comment back to me about how we are to "love the world" and how I am being "judgmental" read the rest of my post and then decide if you feel that way.
I lived in the world. I rolled around in the filth, loneliness, anger, hatred, abuse and bitterness of the world. I would go to church as a teenager with my Grandpa and curse out the youth pastor and tell everyone at the youth meeting that they were morons for following Jesus. I took pride in being against Jesus. I believed that God existed I just made the choice to not be on His side. I know the desperation of wanting to be loved but being so caught up in sin that it blinds you to the truth. I am grateful that in my rock bottom homeless days on the streets of Detroit that God spared my life. I still do not know how, other than God spared it. I remember quite clearly the decision made to give my life to Jesus. I think about it often. I remember the rejection I got from some of the people I used to hang out with. I remember the feeling of not having a "friend" in the world. I was changed.
I worked very closely with the homeless community after giving my heart to Jesus. I would give them food and a drink and then tell anyone who would listen what Jesus had done for me. There were times when people would listen. I even prayed with a few to accept Jesus as their savior. But there were many who would laugh at me or threaten me and I would be rejected. Only Jesus could actually be given "superstar" status, if you will, in the Bible. I mean, He came to earth, born of a virgin, was the son of God and preformed miracles. People would flock to wherever He was. They would walk for days to hear him speak. Yet, in the end..He was rejected by those very same people. Truth is... when we give our hearts and lives to Jesus we WILL be rejected by the world. That's the way it is supposed to be. Actually, we are too, to reject the world...not reject the PEOPLE..but the world. Jesus spoke quite plainly when asked what someone needed to do to follow Him.. He said:
Mark 8:34-35 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it."
So I ask you again... why are we seeking notoriety. If we are denying ourselves as Jesus said we need to do, then why are we so self centered in our pursuit of a "ministry" a "career" a ...fill in the blank? It is scary when I take inventory of my life when this is the measuring stick I am to use.
Don't be confused.. I LOVE the people who are in the world. I love them so much that I don't want to just be their friends and have them like me I want them to know that Jesus LOVES them and that He died for them. It is cruel to "in the name of love" not share the truth of Jesus with people. It is cruel to say "I am not going to judge" No one said you were called to judge. No one gave you that responsibility.. you are COPPING OUT. Don't judge... share Jesus in Love.
Personally, I am daily asking God to scrub out of me anything that keeps me from this calling on my life. Dying to self is a hard (understatement of the century) process, but I can't be filled with Jesus if there is any "self" left. I want to be filled by Him. I want to share more of Him with others. I want "my" life to be fully His. I long to have people say of me when I am gone.. She loved Jesus.
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“Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9
God the Father is a tender teacher of truth to His children. God the Son, Jesus, is a teacher who taught with clarity and authority when He walked on earth. And God the Holy Spirit is a teacher who reveals to the heart of humans the hidden secrets of heaven. Indeed, followers of Christ have access to the Almighty’s academic understanding of His ways. Wise servants of the Lord stay enrolled in His school for a lifetime of learning.
If we cease to learn from God, we cease to grow in our faith and obedience. We remain a student as we remain in Him. We learn the language of heaven as we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in our heart. We comprehend Christ when we first receive Him, by faith, into our life, as we study His life, and as we seek to emulate His example.
“It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” John 6:45
The Lord’s lessons are learned by a series of tests. Sometimes we are surprised by a pop quiz of trust. Other times we face an extensive exam on suffering. Or, it may be the daily opportunity to attend Christ’s classroom of obedience where we grow in our understanding of the ways of God. We can skip class in our own strength, or we can stay disciplined to the process of surrender to the Spirit’s filling. Humility looks to always learn from God.
Yes, some lessons are harder to learn than others. But wise are we to stay engaged in seeking to understand so that we can grow in grace. A lesson learned invites other options, but refusing to accept God’s truth keeps us stuck in our stubbornness. Yet, as we learn from Jesus, our soul becomes humble, gentle and restful under His intoxicating influence.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29
Love is the Lord’s primary lesson plan. The principles of love begin at the elementary level of loving God and progress to the graduate course of loving your enemies. How well do you love? Are you learning from Jesus how to love like Jesus? Your curriculum in love includes: Unconditional love, brotherly love and romantic love. Therefore, be thorough in your studies of Christ. You get an A+ when you learn and apply His truth.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24
Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me Your ways. My heart is to be a faithful student.
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” Deuteronomy 14:2
You matter. You matter because you’re made in the image of God. You are a blueprint of a beauty birthed out of heaven. Your physical makeup is beautiful, because the eye of your beloved beholder is your heavenly Father. Your intellectual capacity is attractive, because in Christ, you know the mind of Christ. Your emotional energy is engaging, because you are accepted and loved by God. You matter because your Master Jesus says you matter.
You matter. You matter because you are chosen by the Lord—you are His treasured possession. Jesus wants you to be with Him like a coach who recruits athletes; He has picked you to be on His team. He calls the plays and He expects you to excel in the position suited for your skills, gifts and experiences. You matter most to the Lord of Hosts. Since Jesus Christ thinks the world of you, He laid down His life for the world on your behalf.
“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4
What does it mean for you to be a treasured possession of Almighty God’s? Like the Hope Diamond, He values your extreme worth. He protects you, He provides for you, He prays for you and He displays you as a proud trophy of His grace to a lost and hurting world. Yes, you matter. You matter because God owns you. And His ownership displays excellent stewardship. What He owns, He takes care of. What He owns He blesses.
Furthermore, as a precious possession of God’s, your value increases over time. You are an eternal asset that appreciates in worth and significance. The allocations in your heavenly portfolio include faith, hope, love, grace and holiness. You matter. You matter, because you are filthy rich with the riches of Christ. You have been given much in your faith journey, so God expects much. Thus, you matter in helping others know they matter.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48b
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that I matter much to you, so lead me to help others know they matter to You as well.
Long distance runner Ryan Hall is no stranger to notoriety: He won the marathon at the 2008 US Olympic Trials, participated in Beijing, and is currently in London representing the US again. But there’s no question Who gets the glory for Ryan’s life: Christ. In his life and profession, Ryan aims to be led by the Holy Spirit and to touch lives with the Gospel. We were thrilled to be able to bend Ryan’s ear recently for a quick chat…
Family Christian: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Ryan. Let’s start with a little personal and professional background…
Ryan Hall: Okay, I was born in Big Bear Lake, California about an hour from San Bernardino. I met my wife Sara at Stanford and we married in 2005. We’ve always had a desire to let our professional life affect the lives of others, so in 2009 we founded The Hall Steps Foundation to fight global poverty through better health. As a result we’ve been able to connect with thousands of runners who share our heart and do some cool projects including the building of a new hospital in Kenya’s Rift Valley. We’re humbled and honored by the way God has used and blessed our efforts.
Family Christian: That’s awesome. So do you and Sara have kids?
Ryan: Not yet. We hope to adopt one day, but we want to make sure we’re a bit more settled in our lifestyle before having kids.
Family Christian: Share with us a bit about your relationship with Christ. What has He been showing you lately?
Ryan: I have been a Christian ever since I can remember and continue to grow in my relationship with God. I was blessed to be raised in an awesome Christian family and was introduced to Jesus at a young age. However, I would say my faith really became my own when I was 13. I and was playing baseball, basketball and football (at the time I hated to run) and God gave me a vision to try and run around the lake in my hometown. This was the first time I can remember God communicating with me, or rather the first time I remember being able to hear Him. (I think He is always talking to us but sometimes I am not the best at listening.) Anyway, I listened and obeyed and went on a 15 mile run around the lake. When I got back from the run and collapsed on the couch God spoke to me again (not verbally but I could hear Him in my head) that He had given me a gift to run with the best guys in the world, but He had given me that gift to help others. It took me awhile to realize how to use my gift to love other people but since [then] I have learned to make the most of running with other runners, connecting with others in small moments and then to help others through our foundation.
Most recently I have started what I call "faith-based" coaching, which I began in the fall of 2010. "Faith-based" coaching basically means that instead of having a traditional coach, I apply what I hear from God through prayer, the Bible, and others to my running. In the fall of 2010 I was feeling more and more desperate for God. I was feeling that I needed to position myself where I had to hear from God. Faith became a “must” rather than something on the side. It made me desperate to hear from Him because even though I have had many great coaches that the Lord has taught me through, I realize I am not a coach. God is my Coach and what He says I try to do. I don't always get it right but I am getting better.
The way I apply this to my running is through [practical ways like] obeying the Sabbath by taking one day a week off from running and verses like, "…in the abundance of counselors there is victory." God has built a team of experts around me to help me along the way. I know I am not supposed to be on this journey alone and He has made sure that I have all the support I need to accomplish what He wants me to do.
Family Christian: Are you a book lover? What books are you reading?
Ryan: I do like to read. I am big Bill Johnson fan. One of my favorites is When Heaven Invades Earth.
Family Christian: What music do you like?
Ryan: I love Jesus Culture.
Family Christian: And how many times have you watched Chariots of Fire?
Ryan: Too many to count!
Family Christian: Tell us a little about your connection to World Vision…
Ryan: Sara and I were spokespersons for Team World Vision Chicago in 2008. We were essentially team captains for a team there that helped raise funds for a community of 90,000 people in Zambia through fundraising and racing the 2008 Chicago Marathon. We were able to go visit the community and we were never the same. We continue to support World Vision projects through our foundation and are still close with the staff of World Vision.
Family Christian: Okay, a couple of questions about running. What is your favorite Asics shoe and why?
Ryan:Gel Hyperspeed. I raced my first half marathon in them when the shoe was a prototype. In 2007 I set the American Record of 59:43 in that race. I have been racing in them ever since. I run all my marathons and half marathons in them. They are light, yet supportive and feel great.
Family Christian: Cold or warm weather - what's your preference?
Ryan: Cold, without a doubt. I'm terrible in the heat.
Family Christian: Geographically speaking, what part of the country do you most like to run?
Ryan: Honestly, my favorite place to run is in Redding, California, where I spend half of the year. We spend the other half in Flagstaff, AZ.
Family Christian: Do you personally know the other runners that you will be competing against in the Olympics?
Ryan: I know some of the guys. I know my teammates Meb and Abdi really well. They are great guys. I have been looking up to them since I was in high school, so it is a bit surreal to be on the same Olympic Team as them.
Family Christian: What are your goals for the future? What happens after the Olympics, and after running?
Ryan: Well, I hope to have my very best stuff in the Olympics (whatever that looks like) and hope to experience the joy of knowing that Jesus is the prize no matter what place I finish. After the Olympics I will continue to train and race in hopes of maximizing the talent God has given me and to broaden the impact that runners can make on fighting global poverty. After running, Sara and I hope to do some type of work in developing countries to continue to fight poverty, perhaps through rallying runners as we have done in the past.
Family Christian: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us – especially during this period of your life. Wishing you all the best in London, Ryan!
Do you think that you can run as fast as Ryan? Check out this video of people attempting to do just that.
Tears are evidence of a kind and caring heart. They are the nectar of God that brings sweet support to another suffering soul. Moist eyes make a friend feel understood and accepted. It is this tenderness of spirit that seizes a hurting heart and won’t let go until it lingers long in love. Tears create crevices of comfort where words will never lodge. Indeed, liquid love is possible for anyone whose heart has been touched by the love of Jesus.
When our tear ducts have dried up, our heart may have shriveled up. When we are too strong to cry, we may have become too weak to really care. When the tears of others make us uncomfortable, we may be comfortable in our own self-reliance. However, when we comprehend the compassion of Christ and see His wet eyes of love for us, we weep. He weeps over our loss, He cries for our comfort, and He hurts over our hurt. He weeps for us.
As He [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it.” Luke 19:41
Do you by faith drink in the liquid love of the Lord Jesus? Has the compassion of Christ captured your heart so that you now care for others? Yes, this life can be hard, unfair, and careless in its concerns, but you have the privilege to console a community and to love your family. Your passion for people is assurance that Almighty God cares for them in their fears and insecurities. Don’t be afraid to weep for injustice. Cry over sin and ask the Lord to glorify Himself out of your tears.
Your emotions are meant to be moved by the fate of those who, today, risk separation from God tomorrow. Your passionately tearful prayers tear into the enemy’s territory. Imagine holding your child’s hand and silently praying a prayer touched by a tear. Perhaps you ask forgiveness with moist eyes of contrition or embrace a loved one with a comforting caress. Your liquid love speaks volumes when words won’t work.
“When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.” Acts 20:36-37
Prayer: Heavenly Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Moisten my eyes.
Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. Psalm 24:3-5
Sincere worshippers of God long to be close to Christ. This is our eternal end game. This is the outcome we crave. It is proximity to Christ that places us close enough for Him to wipe away our tears. It is closeness to Christ that reveals our sin and leads us to repentance. It is closeness to Christ that instills the best perspective. It is closeness to Christ that calms our heart, engages our mind, and sets our feet to dancing. There is no earthly substitute for the fulfillment and the feeling of significance that comes from snuggling up to our Savior. But it is not without effort on our part. Just as a teenager has to slow down long enough to be with his or her parents, so we have to gear back and get with God. A life of chronic activity misses intimacy with the Almighty.
Furthermore, closeness comes from cleanliness. We came from the dirt. We started out unclean. Dirt in our heart throws off dust in our eyes. We struggle to see God when we have not cleansed our heart. The pure in heart see God (Matthew 5:8). But the impure of heart are like blind bats fluttering around in futility. We are from the dirt in the valley and He is high atop His holy mountain. The snow-capped mountain of God is pure and clean. The air is crisp and clear of earthly pollution. So as we ascend to the Almighty by faith, we ask Christ to clean us up so we can go up. We confess motives that are full of self and void of humility. We come clean over our lust and covetousness. We ask God to remove our anger and replace it with patience and kindness. We lay our lies before the Lord and ask Him to convert them to honesty and uprightness.
So we approach the holy hill of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart. It is an outward and inward purification that we pursue. Our behavior and our beliefs both need sanitizing. Try living with one and not the other, we still limp along, distant from the Lord. Closeness to Christ comes when we align both our actions and our attitude. Our ways have to match our words or no one will listen to our claim of loyalty to the Lord. It is when what we say we believe transforms the way we talk and relate to others, that we draw into intimacy with Jesus. A soft-spoken person who has a hard heart is still in the foothills of faith, outside the mountaintop of maturity. Pride may be masked in the moment, but over time it will lash out in anger and rejection. Therefore, come clean with Christ. We would not expect a server in a restaurant to bring out our meal with soiled hands. Nor are we to serve our Lord with the dirt of denial under our fingernails. Clean hands and a pure heart raise us up.
God trusts those whom He holds close to His chest. He trusts them because they are nearby to hear His instructions and obey His commands, to hunger for His heart and thirst for His trust. Closeness continually communes. It is not like the adult child who only comes close to home when he needs something. Instead, hang out often in a scheduled quiet time with the Lord. There is intentionality that goes into intimacy. This qualifies you for closeness to Christ. God trusts those whom He believes in. He blesses those who are close by. Therefore, stay close to Christ.
Taken from Reading #15 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE
Post/Tweet this today: Grace living gears back and gets with God. #grace #prayer
“For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.” Ezra 6:22
Attitude is everything; it can lift you up or bring you down. It is the barometer of your heart. If your heart is not right, your attitude will suffer. Attitude is critical because it influences your course of action. If your attitude is negative, then your words and your behavior will be too. There is a difference in being a realist about negative circumstances, and living with a chronic bad attitude. Naïve are those who ignore warning signs of trouble, and carry on oblivious to the storm clouds of sin. However, your attitude is rooted in who you are in Christ, so there is no need to be fearful, guilty, or insecure.
The attitude that Jesus exhibited was one of humility and servant leadership. His attitude reflected submission to His heavenly Father, which resulted in service, generosity, and love for people. Jesus was joyful and hopeful because He rested in the will of God. Do not allow others’ bad attitude to influence yours. Be the attitude influencer instead. Greet a frown with a smile, crush criticism with affirmation, and listen patiently until fury loses its steam. A positive attitude will eventually outlast and overpower a negative one. Most of all, pray for those who thrive on negativity. Pray for them to be set free from their hurt, anger, guilt, and insecurity. God has you in their lives to reflect the Almighty and to encourage an attitude adjustment through Him.
God is the genesis of a right attitude. He is the right attitude sustainer. He wants His attitude to be our attitude. This is why you need a daily attitude alignment from your heavenly Father. Each day, your attitude gets knocked around and abused by life. If left unattended, your attitude will drift into wrong thinking, harsh words, and bad behavior. Self-pity and anger can begin to replace selflessness and forgiveness. With just a little bit of daily tweaking, your attitude stays in line with His. It is subtle, but sometimes attitudes need to be adjusted moment by moment.
Lastly, slow down and pray when you feel your attitude eroding. When you’re in the midst of a bad attitude, don’t make important decisions; the time isn’t right for that. You will regret every decision you make during a time of emotional upheaval. Be patient, and wait until your anger has subsided, your heart is cleansed, and your attitude is objective. Almighty God is into attitudes that trust Him and reach out to others with compassion and understanding. Open-minded and reasonable attitudes lead to rich and robust relationships. Anyone can be negative; so don’t be anyone, be different. Allow God to shape your attitude on the anvil of His heart.
An attitude molded by God is infectious and transforming. Allow Him to change yours, and then trust Him to change another’s. The Bible says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).
Taken from the July 26th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE
Post/Tweet this today: A right attitude leads to rich and robust relationships. #attitude
“Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death” (Proverbs 10:2).
Ill-gotten treasures insult integrity in the process of procuring profit. It is money manipulated by man, rather than blessed by God. There is no profit for the soul, because the means by which the money was made was centered on self, not on the Savior Jesus. He clearly addresses this, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 nasb).
Indeed, the method and motive for making money does matter. Can financial integrity be assured without transparency in our business dealings or personal financial management? Does God wink at our wrong ways when we attach aggressive giving to ill-gotten gain? We need to be careful not to allow the end of philanthropy to justify the means of dishonesty. However, honestly earned treasures display the hand of heaven on your head. You can go to the bank and thank God along the way.
So, how do we know if our acquired treasures are legitimate, as the Lord defines legitimate? One indicator is the extent of His blessing, for God blesses benevolence birthed out of brokenness and honest work. For example, you invite trustworthiness when there is full disclosure in financial reporting. It may mean losing a deal, but the Lord can lead you to better, even more lucrative opportunities.
Moreover, treat others as you want to be treated. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). Thus, you avoid intimidation, fear tactics, and disrespectful attitudes. God blesses respect.
Lastly, a company with a Christ-like culture is attractive. You don’t have to look over your shoulder because you know other team members cover your back. Indeed, honesty is the best policy in producing profit. Untainted treasure comes from trusting God. It matters as much how you make it, as how you give it away.
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money” (Hebrews 13:5 nasb).
Prayer: Where is my character being tempted to compromise for the sake of cash, and how can I make sure I behave correctly?