Monday, November 24, 2014

Something Worth Doing

"Even if a man should be detected in some sin, my brothers, the spiritual ones among you should quietly set him back on the right path, not with any feeling of superiority but being yourselves on guard against temptation. Carry each other’s burdens and so live out the law of Christ. If a man thinks he is “somebody”, he is deceiving himself, for that very thought proves that he is nobody. Let every man learn to assess properly the value of his own work and he can then be glad when he has done something worth doing without dependence on the approval of others. For every man must “shoulder his own pack”... Don’t be under any illusion: you cannot make a fool of God! A man’s harvest in life will depend entirely on what he sows. If he sows for his own lower nature his harvest will be the decay and death of his own nature. But if he sows for the Spirit he will reap the harvest of everlasting life by that Spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for, unless we throw in our hand, the ultimate harvest is assured. Let us then do good to all men as opportunity offers, especially to those who belong to the Christian household." (Galatians 6:1-5; 7-10 - The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips)

 Every one of us has shown, time and again, how vulnerable and weak we're when trying to choose good over evil. It behooves every one of us, then, to go easy on a sister or brother in Christ who fails, falls, "misses the mark". We have no right to feel superior to him or her. But if we step in to help that person to shoulder the burden of her/his weakness we're, in fact, living out "the law of Christ" which is love. "Owe no one anything, except to love one another…" Jesus spelled it out as two-fold: "you shall love the Lord your God will all your heart…The second [commandment] is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Living out the law of Christ is "something worth doing". 

 Too often we're motivated to help and minister to others with an unspoken hope of being noticed, of moving up a notch or two in others' admiration and esteem of us. Paul says that it's only when one learns "to assess properly the value of [one's] own work" that one can feel glad for having "done something worth doing without depending on the approval of others.

 Paul goes on to remind the Galatian community and us that we delude ourselves and mock God if we assume that our lives can have any real meaning outside of reaching forth and giving beyond ourselves for the good of others. You reap what you sow. It's easy to pay lip service to that, but we all know how difficult it is as a consistent practice. Like a cheerleader, Paul encourages us to resist the tiredness of doing good, for, unless we simply give up, "the ultimate harvest is assured."

1 comment:

John-Julian Swanson, OJN said...

I'm reminded of St. Julian's words:

"When other men's sins come to mind, the soul that wishes to be in repose shall flee from that as from the pain of hell, searching in God for remedy for help against it, for the beholding of other men's sins makes, as it were, a thick mist before the eye of the soul, and we cannot for the time see the fairness of God (unless we can behold another's sins with contrition with him, with compassion on him, and with holy desire to God for him, for without this it troubles and tempts and hinders the soul that beholds those sins)."

One of the clearest signs of spiritual growth is when one becomes increasingly unwilling to judge another's sins.