ON SPIRITUALITY & ETHICS
“Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’
and call insight your intimate friend.”
As my son Jeremy turns 18, I am reminding him of the spiritual wisdom he has inherited. The quotations and reflections below are part of my letter to him. Perhaps you will wish to share this column—or your own letter—with your children.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8). Faith begins when we recognize our need of God and God’s mercy. Remember always that, regardless of the severity of our sins, God’s forgiveness never fails. There are no limits to God’s grace: it is both steadfast and abundant.
“Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27). Jesus reminds us that we who receive forgiveness must also forgive our enemies. This liberates us to be caring, to bless rather than curse, to seek to win over our enemy rather than waste our lives in hatred and vengeance. Love adds to the universe; love is never lost.
“We struggle not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). We battle against sins, not sinners. If we wage war against sinners, we perpetuate the tragic cycle of violence evident throughout history. But if we combat sin—ours as well as others—we make the world a better place.
“Perfect love casts out all fear” (I John 4:18). Beware the stranglehold of fear! The power of fear is overrated. True power is visible when love conquers fear. This miracle only occurs when we have an object for our faith that is greater than our fears.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5). The object of our faith is God, not the outcome we seek. No matter what our circumstance, God will see us through. Trusting God empowers us to face our fears and enables love to emerge as our response to the threats we encounter.
“Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). Culture has a way of creeping into our lives and leading us astray. Be aware of such influences. Construct your standards based upon the Spirit of Christ. Seek God’s guidance and you will be able to stand against the misguided ideas of our age.
“Be doers of the word” (James 1:22). Our time on this planet is short. Make the best of it. You will often hear the words of the wise. Make them your own. Refuse the role of spectator. Put wisdom into action.
“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). Ignoring conflict does not bring peace. So do not permit silence to masquerade as peace. Instead, confront conflict by taking the initiative. Wage a peacemaking campaign with the same commitment as those who engage in war. Then you will discover the blessings of peace.
“God loves a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7). Unlike a billion people born into unimaginably wretched poverty, you have inherited an infrastructure that gives you material wealth. Spiritual wealth comes from correcting this injustice. Be a grateful person. Give gladly and generously, recognizing that your giving is not charity; it is the requirement of justice.
“Unbind him, and let him go” (John 11:45). After resuscitating Lazarus from death, Jesus did not command the burial clothes to unravel. Instead, he recognized the caring role of the community. Likewise, reject our culture’s narrow emphasis on individuality and go-it-alone spirituality. Embrace both the community of faith and the global community of humankind.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35) We end where we began: God’s love is eternal and bountiful. Nothing in all creation can thwart God’s love. Allow God’s love to infuse you. Perpetuate it. God is the source of life’s meaning. God’s love is the means for the journey, and the joy of our destiny.
Rev. Rix welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2003 Harry Rix. All rights reserved.