The Narrow Corner- a classic novel

The reference to lilies of the field which neither toil nor spin is from the Bible, specifically Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as related in the book Matthew.

Matthew 6: 28-30, KJV
“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

I recently read a classic  novel The Narrow Corner by W. Somerset Maugham. I remember also reading his classic Of Human Bondage in high school.  

The Plot 

In The Narrow Corner, Maugham tells a story about Dr. Saunders, an English physician who lives and practices in China. He is quite in demand among wealthy Chinese; we never learn exactly why he left England but the author hints that he was more highly regarded in the Far East than he had been in Britain. 

Dr. Saunders is summoned away from his home  to a South Pacific island to attend to a wealthy man who requests his medical care. He boards a small ship with a salty captain and a young man who keeps his reason for travelling a guarded secret.

What was supposed to be a pleasant and uneventful trip to a tropical island, turned into an uncomfortable and shocking adventure when they meet four people whose lives proved more complicated that they initially appeared.  Dr. Saunders and his travelling companions soon find themselves sucked into their intrigue. 

The Language of  the novel-1932

Maybe because it is old, written in 1932, many of the words and phrases seem formal and archaic.Perhaps Maugham wanted to avoid dull prose. Here is an example of his eloquent way with words, with some explanations in parentheses.

“He (Dr. Saunders) was not very fond of idealists. It was difficult for them in this workaday (ordinary) world to reconcile their professions with the exigencies (urgent needs) of life, and it was disconcerting how often they managed to combine exalted notions with a keen eye to the main chance. They were apt to look down upon those who were occupied with practical matters but not averse from profiting by their industry.

Like the lilies of the field they neither toiled nor spun, but took it as a right but others should perform for them these menial offices (menial jobs). “

The Narrow Corner copyright 1932

In this passage, Maugham uses several phrases or quotes much older than his writing .

exalted  (lofty or elevated ) notions (thoughts or beliefs)  which has been attributed to Aristotle. 

eye to the main chance

referring to someone who is ambitious and eager to promote their own advancement. The first known use of it in print is in John Lyly’s, Euphues, the anatomy of wyt, 1579:

The reference to lilies of the field which neither toil nor spin is from the Bible, specifically Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as related in the book Matthew.

Matthew 6: 28-30, KJV

“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”

King James Version, public domain

The Language of the Bible- 1604-2006

King James authorized a Bible translation in 1604 , so this passage also uses terms we don’t use much today, like raiment (clothing) and  arrayed (dressed) . 

orange daylilies
Photo by Cindy Gustafson on Pexels.com

Some of the modern language versions translate lilies as “wild flowers”, or “flowers of  the field.” I think the image of lilies is much more descriptive. In 1932 most people still read the KJV of the Bible, so  Maugham  used this version. 

Here is a modern English translation of the same verses. 

“And why do you worry about clothes? Look at the wildflowers in the field. See how they grow. They don’t work or make clothes for themselves. 

But I tell you that even Solomon, the great and rich king, was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers.”

Easy-to-Read Version Copyright © 2006 by Bible League international

These verses are among those attributed to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Here are some other posts based on  verses found there. 

Living and giving lavishly

The surprising blessing of discomfort

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

 

W Somerset Maugham

W Somerset Maugham was one of the 20th Century’s most popular novelists as well as a celebrated playwright critic and short story writer.

He was born in Paris but grew up in England and served as a secret agent for the British during World War II.

He wrote many novels including the classics , The Razor’s Edge, Cakes & Ale, Christmas Holiday, The Moon and Sixpence, Theater, Up at the Villa.  (Affiliate links)         

Here is a link to the opening chapters of The Narrow Door.

Thanks for reading my review of a classic novel that borrows some familiar verses from the Bible. Please share and follow this blog as we explore the HEART of health  and more words of faith, hope, and love.  

Dr. Aletha

FAITH, HOPE, LOVE in wooden block letters
Faith Hope and Love

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The best meal you can eat

“When we Pray the Scriptures, we begin by reading a few verses of the Bible. We read unhurriedly so that we can listen for the message God has for us there. ”

“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.  Matthew 5:6 CEB

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

Matthew 5:6 Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness

The Upper Room® is a global ministry dedicated to supporting the spiritual life of Christians seeking to know and experience God more fully.

From its beginnings in 1935 as a daily devotional guide, The Upper Room has grown to include publications, programs, prayer support, and other resources to help believers of all ages and denominations move to a deeper level of faith and service.”

Copyright 2018 The Upper Room

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This verse is from a Bible passage called the Beatitudes, Matthew 5: 3-11, which introduces  Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This version, The Common English Bible,  uses “happy”, while most others use “blessed” as The Message does

 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. Matthew 5:6, MSG

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

The Contemporary English Version puts it a different way, making God the subject of the sentence.

“God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink.
They will be given what they want!” Matthew 5:6 CEV

Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

And in Spanish, the Nueva Biblia Viva reads

“¡Dichosos los que tienen hambre y sed de justicia, porque quedarán satisfechos! “Mateo 5:6 NBV

© 2006, 2008 por Biblica, Inc.® Usado con permiso de Biblica, Inc.® Reservados todos los derechos en todo el mundo.

THE BEST MEAL YOU WILL EAT-WWW.WATERCRESSWORDS.COM-

What do these verses mean to you?

Using this guide from The Upper Room, try praying these Scriptures- use one of these versions, all of them, or others that you prefer.

“When we Pray the Scriptures, we begin by reading a few verses of the Bible. We read unhurriedly so that we can listen for the message God has for us there. ” Continue reading at 

Praying the Scriptures

man with hands folded in prayer
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In her memoir, FIRE ROAD- the Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness and Peace ,  author  Kim Phuc Phan Thi  wrote,

“One of the passages that never failed to comfort me when I was feeling especially down was the Beatitudes, the  list of blessings Jesus proclaimed to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.”

Please continuing  reading at my related post

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

Thanks for joining me to read and explore these words of faith, hope, and love and for helping me share the HEART of health. 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

Dr. Aletha 

faith, hope and love in cursive letters
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Living and giving lavishly

Therefore, because God is so generous to us, we’re to be lavishly generous to others.

 

Exploring the Golden Rule from the Sermon on the Mount

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Matthew 7:12 ESV

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Matthew 7:12 NIV

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

LIVING AND GIVING LAVISHLY-www.watercresswords.com- exploring the heart of health with faith, hope and love

 

 

The Golden Rule-from the late Reverend Billy Graham in his book

The Journey-How to Live by Faith in an Uncertain World 

“How different our lives would be if we actually practiced this!

Instead of ignoring people or treating them harshly, we’d handle them with respect and kindness.

Instead of manipulating them for our own purposes, we’d help them achieve what is best for them.

We’d also try to see life through their eyes. Most of all, we’d point them to Christ, for the greatest gift we can offer anyone is His salvation.”

(from Chapter 21-When Others Disappoint)

 

also by Billy Graham (these are affiliate links used to help this blog share the HEART of health)


Life Wisdom: Quotes from Billy Graham

Life Wisdom: Quotes from Billy Graham


The Enduring Classics of Billy Graham

The Enduring Classics of Billy Graham

Understanding the Golden Rule from desiringGod.org 

“The word so indicates that Jesus’s teaching is his conclusion from what he’s said previously. The entire Sermon on the Mount might be in view.
But it may be that Jesus is thinking more specifically of what he has just said, in Matthew 7:7–11.
‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!’
There he tells his followers that God is their loving Father and always gives good things to those who ask.
Therefore, because God is so generous to us, we’re to be lavishly generous to others.
The Golden Rule is glorious overflow.”
Read  the rest of Stephen Witmer’s  article at desiringGod to find out

Three Things Jesus Didn’t Say

 

 

Does this make you think differently about the Golden Rule, what it means, and how it plays out in your interactions with others?

Who has been “lavishly generous” to you?

Who have you helped to “achieve what is best for them”?

Please share your reflections , share this post, follow this blog for more watercress words of faith, hope, and love.

Dr. Aletha 

FAITH LOVE HOPE- words created with letter tiles
These three remain, faith, hope and love, and greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

Why pray The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer
Christians pray these words exactly as written or may use them as a model or outline for prayer. They are prayed during church services and in private devotions.

 

Matthew 6:9-13, NIV 

(Jesus said)

“This, then, is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

give us this day our daily bread
social graphic from Lightstock.com, an affiliate link

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Lord’s Prayer

This passage from Matthew may be the most quoted from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Although traditionally called the “Lord’s Prayer”, it might also be called the disciples’ prayer.

In the book of Luke, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.

various types of bread

Forgive us our sins,for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

 

 

Christians pray these words exactly as written (although there are now many different Bible translations and paraphrases), or may use them as a model or outline for prayer. They are prayed during church services and in private devotions.

Why pray the Lord's prayer

 

 

 

The Lord’s Prayer has been set to music in various forms. A family friend sung it at my wedding. Some choose it for funerals or memorial services.

Singers ranging from amateur to professional have recorded The Lord’s Prayer in multiple languages. I enjoyed this Kenyan choir singing it in English.

Umoja English choir, Nairobi, Kenya 

In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes,

“Jesus taught us to pray for daily bread. Have you ever noticed that children ask for lunch in utter confidence that it will be provided. Children do not find it difficult or complicated to talk to their parents, nor do they feel embarrassed to bring the simplest need to their attention. Neither should we hesitate to bring the simplest requests confidently to the Father.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord’s Prayer at iTunes 

The song has been recorded by a diverse group of artists including Andrea Bocelli, Susan Boyle, Barbra Streisand, Jackie Evancho, Elvis Presley. 

Find these and others at iTunes.

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

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The Lord's Prayer record album
The Lord’s Prayer 

Share your thoughts about The Lord’s Prayer

What does The Lord’s Prayer mean to you? Do you pray it, or use it as a guide to prayer? Please share your thoughts about this powerful prayer.

wooden plaque available at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for joining me to reflect on The Lord’s Prayer. 

Please visit some other posts with words of faith, hope, and love from the Sermon on the Mount.

                            Dr. Aletha  Faith, Love, Hope

Opportunities to do good

The surprising blessing of discomfort

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

5 lessons learned when the lights went out

THE GREATEST PRAYER

Opportunities to do good

What is my motive in helping others? Is it the right one?

Matthew 6:1-4, TLB-Giving to the Needy

“Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, for then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven

When you give a gift to a beggar, don’t shout about it as hypocrites do- to call attention to their  acts of charity! I tell you in all earnestness, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 

 But when you do a kindness to someone, do it secretly—don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. 

And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

if you do one good deed your reward is to do another and harder and better one. C.S. LEWIS,
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C.S. Lewis, author 

Author of the popular The Chronicles of Narnia fiction book/movie  series,

C.S. Lewis was a writer, teacher,  and lay theologian.

His books on Christian belief are read and quoted widely, years after his death.

The Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. Lewis

Women and C.S. Lewis

Helping in Secret

Leslie Koh, writer/editor for  Our Daily Bread  reflected on this passage in a devotional from November 26, 2017.

He wrote about  Denise, who mentored a hurting young woman in her church. She met with her frequently, counselling and praying.

But when a church staff member was assigned to work with the young woman, Denise felt overlooked and unappreciated.

Leslie reminded us that when we feel unappreciated (and all of us do at times) God recognizes what we do even when no one else does.

I think we might ask ourselves- What is my motive in helping others?

  • To serve myself by receiving  praise and recognition from other people?
  • To serve God, to receive His reward?
  • To serve others, obeying God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 19:19?

Helping the distressed

Recently Leslie  reflected on the Christian response to the world wide refugee crisis. In this piece for The Christian Post, he encourages us to

not mistreat foreigners and migrants-embrace them.

OPPORTUNITIES TO DO GOOD-watercresswords.com

“Some time back, people from abroad who work in my country started gathering on the church property for a picnic every Sunday.

This evoked a range of responses from fellow churchgoers. Some fretted about the mess the visitors would leave behind. But others saw this as a divine opportunity to extend hospitality to a wonderful group of strangers—without even leaving the church       grounds! “(excerpt)

I hope we all find “divine opportunities” to extend hospitality  and help to friends and strangers.

On my page, Share the Heart of Health, you will meet organizations that invite you to help them do good things for others around the world. Please visit it.

Learning from The Sermon on the Mount 

This post is based on a passage from The Sermon on the Mount by Jesus in the Bible book of Matthew. Here are some other posts about that passage.

The surprising blessing of discomfort

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

5 unexpected rewards by ditching a critical spirit

Please share this post and follow Watercress Words where I share words of 

 faith, hope, and love

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Thank you so much.    Dr. Aletha                 

1 Corinthians 13:13, photo from the Lightstock.com collection (affiliate link)

 

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

Just as there may be many ways to define or describe being blessed, there are many ways to define health or describe being healthy. I addressed this in a previous post that I hope you will read.

This section of the Bible book Matthew is known as The Beatitudes.

Matthew recorded these lessons that Jesus taught in his “Sermon on the Mount” , some of the most well known and often quoted verses of the Bible.

a ceramic cross with the Beatitudes Matthew 5:3-10
The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10

The dictionary defines  beatitude as “a state of utmost bliss or supreme blessedness.”

Beatitude inherited its blessedness from the Latin word beatus, meaning both “happy” and “blessed.” In the Bible, the Beatitudes are a series of eight blessings, such as “Blessed are those poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And in 1958 writer Jack Kerouac coined the term “The Beat Generation” because he felt its members were seeking beatitude. (vocabulary.com)

Most modern English translations of the Bible use the words blessed or happy in these verses. The Easy-to-Read version calls it “great blessings.”

The Amplified Bible lives up to its name using several different words to express these sentiments. These include

  • spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired
  • forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace
  • inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect
  • joyful, nourished by God’s goodness
  • anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature
  • spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor
  • comforted by inner peace and God’s love
  • morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Just as there  may be many ways to define or describe being blessed, there are many ways to define health or describe being healthy. I addressed this in a previous post that I hope you will read.

 

 

Improving health with 7 life elements

(Here is a brief excerpt)

Spiritual Wellness – what brings, peace, harmony, and purpose to our lives.

woman with hands bowed in prayer

Our sense of ethics, morals, right, and wrong is usually based on what we believe to be true and meaningful,  and likely involves faith and support for an organized belief system or religion. Without belief in something, our lives can drift aimlessly and we can fall into restlessness, doubt our purpose, and lose hope for the future.

Both states-blessed and healthy– may be determined

not by what we have, but by who we are,

not by what we get, but what we give,

not by chasing them, but by living them.

Maybe they are both a journey, not a destination.

The Beatitudes- How to be blessed, happy and healthy- watercresswords.com

I’ve written more about the Beatitudes and other lessons from the Sermon on the Mount. Here is one.

 

 

 

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.”  (Matthew 5:6)

“I would run my finger along those phases, wondering if those words could really be true. If I pursue your ways, God, will you really satisfy that which is hungry in me?”                    

excerpt  from FIRE ROAD 

                                Read a review of  FIRE ROAD 

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Please share this post and follow Watercress Words for more words of

faith, hope, and love

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Thank you so much.    Dr. Aletha                 

1 Corinthians 13:13, photo from the Lightstock.com collection (affiliate link)

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

“One of the passages that never failed to comfort me when I was feeling especially down was the list of blessings Jesus proclaimed to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.”

Matthew 5:6 ERV

Great blessings belong to those who want to do right more than anything else.
    God will fully satisfy them.

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

In her memoir, FIRE ROAD- the Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness and Peace ,  author  Kim Phuc Phan Thi  wrote,

“One of the passages that never failed to comfort me when I was feeling especially down was the list of blessings Jesus proclaimed to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.

There he says,

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.”  (Matthew 5:6)

I would run my finger along those phrases, wondering if those words could really be true. If I pursue your ways, God, will you really satisfy that which is hungry in me?

What exactly did I hunger for back then? That which we all crave, I suppose:

  • safety and security
  • provision and unshakable peace
  • hope in the quietest of moments
  • the sense of family, so far from home.”

Read more about Kim’s memoir; my review is at this link-

FIRE ROAD- the Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness and Peace 

Fire Road was published by Tyndale House Publishers. I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House Publishers.

My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.

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This post is part of a series based on verses from the Sermon on the Mount in the Bible book Matthew. Here are links to others-

The surprising blessing of discomfort

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

Opportunities to do good

Thank you for reading and sharing these words of faith, hope, and love.

This post used affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, using these links will help us support the HEART of health all over the world. Thank you!

Dr. Aletha 

faith, hope and love