2 Chronicles 18: 3- 7 – 3 Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?”
Jehoshaphat replied, “I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war.” 4 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.”
5 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I not?”
“Go,” they answered, “for God will give it into the king’s hand.”
6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”
7 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”
“The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.
Now, I have discussed about main causes of current economic problems and what we can do about it. But unfortunately, problems can be found in almost every area of our life. Now, I will start a new series of posts that will discuss about human relationship problems. I think it is important because no body can live alone. We interact with people constantly as long as we live. So, it is important to discuss how to manage our relationship with other people and how do we communicate to other people meaningfully.
I believe the most important things to sustain relationship can be found in Ten Commandment in Torah (Exodus 20: 1-17; Deuteronomy 5: 4-21), especially 7th and 9th command. 7th command discourages unfaithfulness, which is root of bitterness, dispute, and disappointment and 9th command discourages dishonesty, which is the main cause for distrust among human beings.
So, I will discuss about these two problems: Dishonesty and unfaithfulness.
In this post, I will start by analyzing positive thinking. I think positive thinking can be generally defined as life philosophy that tend to interpret various situations and events in one’s life as something that is good or potentially able to bring greater good for future. In recent decades, most people seem consciously or unconsciously assume that positive thinking is something that should be done in all life circumstances. However, I claim that positive thinking is very near to dishonesty, which violates 9th commandment and will be dangerous and harmful in long run.
Excuse me, what? Come on, man. You cannot be serious. How come you criticize positive thinking as something negative? Don’t you read all biographies of successful entrepreneurs, rich and famous people on how they hold on to this principle and how they become successful?
In this sense, I think this guy is right. Positive thinking can be good compared to negative thinking in some cases. However, negative thinking has its own merits. For example, you wear your safety belt when you drive because you have negative thought that you can possibly be caught in accident that may cause you your life. I also bet even the most positive person still locks his doors and windows during night time. If we all should be positive, then why should we take so much effort checking whether everything is locked?
You may said that negative thinking is different from simple precaution. Well, in this sense I agree with you. Precaution is weak negative thinking. After all, what is negative thinking? It is nothing but tendency to view that something bad can and may happen. Precaution is basically negative thinking but with acknowledgement that normally such thing won’t happen.
I am seeing the tendency in the society to view people who have negative thought in any occasion as something undesirable. In the mind of self-improvement gurus, we can define reality as we want in our mind. So, no such thing as universal positive and negative situation. According to them, if we put enough effort to interpret any ‘negative’ situation in more positive way our life can be transformed into more positive situation. In other word, you are to blame for your own misery since you are not ‘positive’ enough.
There is a lot of danger in thinking that way. First of all and most obviously is that reality is objective and observable. Whether or not you believe sun is exist, it will be there. Furthermore, it is observable in reality that negative things are there. I don’t know how could someone claim that diseases, natural disasters, war, terrorism, oppression, poverty, aging, death are not something that objectively negative to those who experienced it. It seems very self-evident to me that it is negative to virtually all living creatures. And in most cases, the victims don’t have control to avoid those negative things. To believe otherwise and tell other people that their experiences are product of their own negative thought is a form of self-deception and dishonesty, which is violation of 9th commandment.
Furthermore, it is questionable claim to say that we can eradicate those negative things by thinking more positively. I am sure that no matter how positive you think, you cannot escape aging and death. Yes, positive thinking can help to reduce aging effects but it cannot help you to completely avoid it.
I will argue negative thinking will help us to anticipate and avoid those negative things better than positive thinking. If I realize that I will age and my body become weak, I will be more motivated to work more diligently while I am still young. I will also pay attention for my eating habit since it will bring me to avoid various diseases commonly found on aging people, such as hypertension, heart attack, and diabetes. It is much superior than thinking that I am still young and healthy and therefore I should party and enjoy my life while I can. It is nice for short-term but will be disaster in long-term.
Lastly and most importantly, positive thinking or saying only nice things are not Biblical at all. On the passage above, we saw that Israel and Judah king collaborated to fight against Ramosh Gilead. Israel king, apparently a fans of positive thinking, thought that what is nice to hear is better than what is true. Probably in his mind, he has power to overcome enemies and decide the fate of his own nation and negative people act as obstruction to accomplish that purpose.
There is only one problem with it. It assumes that the only agent that can exert influence to future is only human. But we know that there is a God who has his ultimate purpose. Apparently God did not think that speaking about negative things is not loving since obviously God is love (1 John 4: 8). Scripture said that He disciplines and rebukes those whom He love (Revelation 3: 19).
Yes, the negative things are there. But ultimately, we have a reason to be positive about our life journey. In eventual destination for righteous people (i.e. heaven), God promised to us that “He will wipe He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21: 4). We can trust that God, who is our creator, will provide the best for us who are His creation.