Website owner: James Miller
One of my most pronounced personality traits is frugality. I just don't like waste. I am just prejudiced against wastefulness. I don't waste food. I don't waste gasoline. I don't like wasting time. I just make the most of all my resources and don't waste anything. It is a principle I have long lived by. It is a personal bias that regulates and rules much that I do. It has a big shaping effect on my personal behavior and conduct. Where did this personality trait come from? Did it come by reading books of proverbs, like perhaps Poor Richard's Almanac? No. Definitely not. Did the bias come because I was taught it as a child? No. I was never taught anything like that. Did it come from seeing the example of some frugal person? No. Did it come from reading about the merits of frugality? No. Is it some genetic personality trait? I am sure it is not. Then where did this strong trait come from? Well, I am sure that even as a young boy I was not wasteful. I have never been wasteful. As a young boy I had sense. Basic good sense kept me from being wasteful. Or perhaps it was basic conscience. Even as a young boy I saved my money and spent it only very carefully and thoughtfully, wanting to get good value from it. I didn't spend it on candy, or pleasure, or foolishness. Money didn't come easily. Our parents didn't just give us money. We had to work for it (we lived on a farm where there is always lots of work to be done). My Father started me out at $1.00 a week and over the years increased that to a high of $2.50 a week in my teen years. I didn't spend that money foolishly. I saved it and bought myself a 22 rifle, a fishing rod and reel, and various pieces of fishing equipment, all of which I took very good care of and still possess. But when I was young I didn't have the strong bias against waste that I have now. I didn't consciously avoid waste then as I do now. It wasn't a set principle that I lived by. That came later, after I was out of college and out on my own earning a living. My current frugality dates back to some conscious reflections over the foolishnes of waste that I still recall. It was from these reflections that it became an operating principle for my personal conduct. I consciously examined and changed my conduct and behavior so as to minimize waste. I set up new habits for myself. I have stated the above as one single example of a wider principle. The principle is this: In reflecting upon the subject, I believe that most of my personal ways, outlooks and habits have their source in an understanding obtained from observation (observation of people and life) and reflective thought. I am not the way I am because of childhood teaching. Mostly, I am not what I am because of reading (although reading the Bible certainly has had a big influence). If I live by the teachings that Jesus gave us, or teachings that we find in the Bible, I believe that I do so more because of an understanding that I have acquired from observation and reflection than I do because I consciously attempt to follow God's teachings. For example, when I was young I saw argumentativeness in someone close to me and learned a lesson from it. I determined that I would not be an argumentative person. I saw maliciousness in someone and learned a lesson. I saw a lot of different kinds of foolishness, understood it as foolishness, and my response to it had a molding effect on my own character. Quite possibly my underlying love of God and seriousness about him did have an enlightening effect on my mind and quite possibly influenced my negative response to the foolishness I saw. I am what I am because of Understanding. An understanding that comes through observation and reflection. It is a thing of the mind, an intellectual thing. I have a conscience. I have basic good sense. I know what is right. I live by my conscience and my understanding. I take the teachings of Jesus and the Bible seriously and they are a guide but I am not just blindly following rules. I am following my understanding. Understanding has taught me the importance of treating others justly and well. Understanding has taught me the importance of chastity, humility, kindness and goodness. And then later, upon reflection, I realize that those things that understanding and my mind and good sense has taught me are the very same things that Jesus taught and that I read in the Book of Proverbs. I am on the path that Jesus taught, the path the Bible teaches, but I got on the path, learned the path, from my understanding. It was Understanding that revealed it to me. Not everyone is frugal. There are many frugal people but there is probably ten wasteful ones for every frugal one. Maybe more like a hundred. Not everyone is honest. Not everyone is just. Not everyone lives by their conscience. Not every one does the right thing. Not everyone lives by God's rules. The difference between people lies in habits. But what is the source of the habits? The cause of the difference lies in personal understanding. What separates people? Why are people so radically different in their outlooks and behavior? Why the gigantic differences between liberal and conservative? It is differences in understanding --- understanding and lack of understanding. Understanding and its lack, or degree of understanding, lies under it all. The most important thing in life is understanding. It is understanding that one should wish to acquire more than anything else. Understanding is the prize of prizes. From the time I was a teenager the most urgent request in my daily prayer to God has been a request for understanding. Most people lack understanding. The masses lack in understanding. The crowd lacks understanding. That is why foolishness is so pervasive in this world. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. And to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you. Love her and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And with all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you. She will bring you honor when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace. A crown of glory she will deliver to you. Proverbs 4:5-9 Nov 2009 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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My views on Christianity in America
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Sizing up people
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