Personal from Herbert W Armstrong - IS IT WRONG to be a cultured individual? Is it wrong — is it extravagance — to purchase quality things? Some people pride themselves on their lack of culture and good breeding. Some people actually brag: "We're just poor folks." They spurn good-quality merchandise, saying, "That's too rich for my blood." They shop for bargain prices, condemn better quality as '`EXTRAVAGANCE." They accuse a well-dressed person of being "stuck up.'' Does God love the poor and hate the rich? People speak of "God's poor." Must one be poor economically, ignorant educationally, uncouth socially, in order to please God? It's true Jesus said "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" But He also clarified His meaning, adding, "how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!" We speak of the Ambassador Colleges as cultural institutions, providing beautiful and cultural physical environment. Is this wrong? In this world we have the poor, the ignorant, the uncouth and uncultured. And at the other extreme we have the rich, the social snobs, the intellectuals. WHAT IS RIGHT? We say that at Ambassador College we teach not only how to earn a living, but HOW TO LIVE! The college motto IS: "RECAPTURE TRUE VALUES." Out of what textbook do we teach the true values? In what textbook do we learn how to live? Actually the only SOURCE of this most necessary knowledge might seem a little strange to students of the average university. For, strange though it seems, the one textbook rejected by nearly every college and university in the world is the ONLY textbook which imparts the right knowledge on this most basic question. It is the ONLY textbook which imparts the MOST NECESSARY of all knowledge: What is the MEANING — the PURPOSE of life? What are the TRUE VALUES? What is the right way to live — the way to peace, happiness, prosperity, security — the comfortable, interest-packed, enjoyable and abundant life? WHY should the one book that holds all the right ANSWERS — the only rational answers that make sense — be rejected by educational institutions? Incredible? Yes, but still a fact. Bruce Barton must have been right. Truly it is the book nobody knows — well, almost nobody! The Holy Bible is, actually, the FOUNDATION OF KNOWLEDGE. So what is the answer that comes from the textbook of the very Creator about this matter of culture, good breeding, how we should dress, education, financial prosperity? Actually, surprising though it may be to some, the Bible teaching upholds prosperity, right culture, true education and acquisition of right knowledge, good quality, proper attire in clothes. The Bible reveals human nature as being lazy, slovenly, yet full of vanity and greed. When people brag about being poor, uneducated, uncultured, that is merely VANITY. It IS SELF-excusing shiftlessness, neglect, lack of effort. To become "saved" as religious people express it, one must become more like God. Jesus Christ set us an example that we should live as He lived. Now is God lazy? Jesus said: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Now what was God's work? That of Creator, and of Ruler over His creation. What about QUALITY? Was HIS work well done, or poorly done? After the creation of the first chapter of Genesis, "God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was VERY GOOD." God placed the first man in the Garden of Eden. It was undoubtedly the most beautiful garden ever to exist on earth. GOD PLANTED IT. God gave the first man a JOB in that garden. Not to be lazy, shiftless, let it go to weeds and ugliness — but "to dress it and to keep it." (Gen. 2:15) Jesus, prior to His ministry, was a carpenter, a builder of buildings. In Nazareth the BEST and FINEST buildings were built out of stone. The little synagogue (mentioned in Luke 4:16) was very probably one of the buildings that Jesus built, or helped to build. That synagogue was so finely and substantially built it remains in good repair to this day. I have entered it and inspected it. Its quality was the finest. In creating,' God had to think, plan, design what was to be created. For example, a beautiful rose, a lily. Nothing inferior there! His instruction to the workman: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." (Eccl. 9:10) But what is Satan's way? It is the way of the workman who says to a fellow-laborer: "Slow down, there, bud — or we'll all have to work that hard." A man once accused me of being a "perfectionist." But Jesus Christ commands that we be perfectionists: "Be thou therefore PERFECT, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Jesus Christ is still a BUILDER. He rose from the dead. He Is ALIVE TODAY! But today He is building a SPIRITUAL building — His Church, to become the Kingdom of God. It must be THE FINEST (Eph. 2:20-22; 4:11-16). Just what is the difference between best QUALITY and cheap merchandise? All merchandise comes out of the ground. Quality products are simply those resulting from more careful and conscientious selection of better materials, made into an object by more thoughtful, better-designed, painstaking craftsmanship. Inferior merchandise comes from indifferent selection of materials, and less conscientious and careful workmanship. GOD'S WAY IS THE QUALITY WAY! IS good quality "EXTRAVAGANCE"? Many people do not realize the true meaning of the word "extravagance." Webster's definition: "An instance of exceeding the limits of reason; (extravagant claims); lacking in moderation, balance and restraint. Excessively elaborate." Good quality, then, is NOT extravagance unless excessively elaborate. But what if you can't afford the best quality? Then purchase only what you are able — always live within your means — and "be satisfied with such as you have." But, be industrious, doing what you do the best you can and if you really live GOD'S WAY, in due time He will prosper you so that you can afford better. Yet, NEVER SET YOUR HEART ON PHYSICAL THINGS. In the quotation from Jesus, mentioned above, (Mark 10:23) it was not the possession of wealth that Jesus said would keep a man out of the Kingdom of God — but the TRUSTING IN those riches. David warned us that, when God prospers us, be careful not to set our hearts on the prosperity. Through John, Jesus says: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest PROSPER and be in health," (III John 2). Look at the prosperity of Joseph: "And the Eternal was with Joseph, and he was a PROSPEROUS man;... the Eternal made all that he did to PROSPER..." God promised Israel the greatest PROSPERITY and abundance of material wealth of any nation — IF they diligently followed His WAY of life (Lev. 26:3-5). Job was the wealthiest man in the east. After he learned his lesson, God gave him double his original wealth. Prosperity is not a sin — it is a BLESSING. God is the GIVER of abundance and prosperity. But carnal man usually sets his heart on the wealth, instead of God. He makes it an idol in which he trusts. That is the sin. It is GOD'S WILL that we prosper, obedient to Him, our hearts set on Him, relying solely on Him. Then when we prosper — when God gives abundance of GOOD things — of good quality — He wants us to be appreciative, grateful, give Him thanks, ENJOY what He has blessed us with, all the while trusting and worshiping GOD, and realizing we shall have the material things but a short time. One, whom God had blessed with a very nice home well furnished with good quality things, put it this way: "My attitude toward it is like it was when I was assigned to a very fine hotel room for overnight. I said: 'I will enjoy it these few fleeting moments, give God thanks, be appreciative, try to use it as facilities for serving God, obtaining a good night's rest, and then leave it and go on my way in the morning, never looking back with any regrets at leaving it.' That's my attitude toward my very nice home. If I had to leave it forever tomorrow morning, there would be no regrets — just thanksgiving that God let me enjoy it for the little time I had it. This life doesn't last long — and we soon leave everything in it. I'm merely a transient sojourner here, looking forward to something more real and permanent in GOD'S KINGDOM." Now what about education? We are commanded to GROW in KNOWLEDGE — and first of all in the "knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). The most precious thing God gave us in this life is the human MIND. It — like the Garden of Eden — ought to be cultivated — improved. I could write several editorials on this theme. But what about one who never had this teaching — and now, at middle age or older, realizes what has been lost? It may be no fault of the person at all. And even if so, God will forgive the past. But everyone should do all he can, from the time he awakens to this truth. I know such a man. About 18 years ago he put nearly all his life savings into Ambassador College, to help others, still young people, to gain the right education he had failed to receive. Forget the past. Begin where you are, and start living GOD'S WAY! What about culture, good manners, clothing and proper attire? There is much sophisticated "culture" in this world that is pure snobishness and vanity. But TRUE culture — the kind one finds at Ambassador Colleges — is based on God's great Law: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." That part of culture and good manners which expresses concern for neighbor in politeness, graciousness, pleasantness, smiles, and service is TRUE culture. About dress? Yes, one should dress according to the occasion, and also within reason according to his pocketbook. On Ambassador Campuses, during work hours, students dress in the proper work clothes for the job. During classes, they do not "dress up" but men often come in shirt sleeves and open collar — yet always clean and neat and orderly. For an evening function, they dress up in whatever is their best — and if they cannot afford better than they have, that's quite all right — there is no snobbery here. But for a wedding, or graduation exercises, they should dress properly — in the best they have. Is that being "stuck up"? Never! Jesus gave a parable picturing the wedding between Him and His Church. The King in this parable is God, and his Son is Jesus Christ. Notice: "And when the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the King to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness." (Matt. 22:11-13) The Bible teaches the principle of proper attire according to the occasion. Of course "white apparel" often symbolizes "the righteousness of saints" in the Bible. Bodily apparel is used to symbolize CHARACTER. There is a kind of pride that is NOT vanity, but rather concern for others, and respect toward God. That kind of pride we should diligently have.