Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Thought for Tuesday 21 April 2015

“See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”   Ephesians 5:15-16

This passage was on my mind Monday as I was driving to and from Sheridan to attend the funeral of an uncle.  This was a special man, a good man who lived a life worthy of attention and profound respect.  He was no preacher nor a missionary; not a doctor nor a constitutional scholar.  I doubt many know much about him beyond his family and friends.  Yet the impact such a life well lived can have on others is without measure.

When St. Paul is encouraging us to “walk circumspectly”, he is encouraging us not to simply respond to the world around us on some sense of “auto pilot” in which we are more likely to react according to pure instinct.  The reason this can be dangerous for the disciple is that our instincts, which are largely animalistic in nature, can deceive us.  We don’t take in what we observe nor consider how we can derive some experience and life lesson from what we see.  We only react according to whether we like what we observe or not, whether we consider it a threat or not, whether what we see is useful to us personally or not.  We respond according to what we think rather than what we actually know.  And there is a big difference!

We are pretty good that way in that we make snap judgments based only on appearances or a few brief encounters.  Sometimes we can be right on the money, but more often than not there is much we do not know and will never know unless or until we take the time to learn.  Rather than admit this, however, we prefer to stand on “common sense” and insist anyone can see what is clearly on display – unless they are idiots!

My uncle was a working man, a craftsman.  He was also without pretense.  His life and his love for his family, his friends, and his church were genuine.  What’s more, this man never took anything for granted.  He noticed much more than many would have given him credit for, and what he learned from what he observed has translated to his remarkable children (one of whom chose to be a “Big Brother”), his grandchildren, and (hopefully) at least one nephew. 

So when I evaluate this man and his life “circumspectly”, I see evidence of what Jesus meant when He taught that “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit”.  A life measured in faith and in love – and in accordance to a standard established from Above – will always reproduce itself … just as surely as a “bad tree will bear bad fruit”.  Hatefulness, vindictiveness, spite, petty jealousies, and gossip can only be stopped by justice, mercy, love, and courage borne of faith in something much greater.

This was my uncle and my own lesson for today which I gladly share.  There is so much goodness in this world and in the people we come into contact with, but we will rarely notice it if the only thing we are concerned with are outward appearances and our own snap (and often, miscalculated) judgments.  More often than not, we are just dead wrong because we rely on pure instinct rather than on wisdom.

Let us dare to pay more attention to the world around us, and let us learn to give others more of a chance to prove themselves to be of sacred worth – because they are in the sight of The Lord.  When we fail to recognize this, we cheat only ourselves out of something much greater.



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