Ps. 43:3 (NIV)
Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me. Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.
Ps. 149: (RSV)
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.
Titus 3:1-15 (NIV)
Remind the people…to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good…But avoid foolish controversies…because these are unprofitable and useless…Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
At my age I find myself attending too many funerals, and when listening to remembrances of the deceased I am often surprised and amazed at the many facets of their lives that only are revealed to many of us after they are gone. What a shame not to know about these accomplishments when I could have voiced my appreciation or had a conversation about them. Obviously, these saints had followed the instructions Paul gave Titus about encouraging his congregation of new believers. He stressed “devoting themselves to doing what is good…be productive, peaceable, and considerate.” Maybe they were also following Jesus’ advice to “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them…your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt. 6:1-4)
We can’t all be like Jose Andres, feeding thousands in times of disaster, but there are little acts of kindness—maybe just a smile as you encounter the jogger or the grocery shopper on their phones. Is there an old friend who would love a phone call, letter, or email? I am thankful every time my neighbor brings up my paper or trashcan in bad weather. Does someone need a ride? As we journey to the cross with Jesus, let’s aim for at least one act of kindness every day for which we don’t expect a reward! It’s not the season to put straw in the manger, but God will be watching!
Holy and merciful God, we thank you for making the extreme sacrifice of sending Jesus to earth to show us how to live and how to die. Help us replace our judgmental attitudes and any hateful thoughts or speech with genuine consideration and love toward all of your children whom we encounter in person or in the media. When we are complacent or hesitant, nudge us toward opportunities to humbly bring the light of Christ into someone else’s day. With thanksgiving for your guidance, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.