Saturday, November 1, 2008

Give Freely; Revile Not

Matthew 5:38-42 says:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

My resolution for November is taken from these verses. I have translated them for myself as:

Give more freely and do not revile as quickly.

To "revile" means: "to address or abuse with contemptuous language". The clear focus is on the abusive nature of the language being used. I chose this wording to highlight what I see as the central point of "turning the other cheek" - that of not returning abuse when being abused. As I do not anticipate being in a situation to be abused physically, I am focusing on verbal abuse, instead.

These two areas (generosity and being slow to revile) are natural strengths - things that come more naturally to me than many of the other things on which I have focused this year. I learned both of these traits by watching my parents - my father, who would give anything to anyone in need, and my mother, who (we joked) would say, upon seeing our bare house stripped by a gang of thieves, "They must need it more than we do." Furthermore, I don't remember one time in the 19 years I lived at home hearing my father say something abusive or ridiculing to someone else, and I never heard my mother even say anything negative (in any way) about anyone else.

I know how hard that is to believe, but I saw these characteristics modeled to perfection by my parents, and these particular things rubbed off (although not completely) on their oldest son. I am grateful, so very grateful, that, in this way particularly, I am the spitting image of my father and am my mother's son.

This is perhaps the best example of how I want my resolution each month to focus not only on my weaknesses but also on my strengths. Of course, I want to have the Lord turn my weaknesses into strengths, but I also want Him to make my strengths become perfect - whole, complete and fully-developed. Since these characteristics already are strengths, I will look this month for ways to exercise them more regularly - to see opportunities to give more freely (especially of non-monetary resources) and to be even less prone to revile in my conversations with others.


Mama D said...

"I am grateful, so very grateful, that, in this way particularly, I am the spitting image of my father and am my mother's son."

Absolutely perfect way to state this!

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about our responsibility to one another in our church communities to share our own spiritual growth for the benefit of the congregation-only to find you guys doing just that . I treasure this opportunity to share in someone else's spiritual journey,particularly in my own spiritual isolation due to sickness.I now find myself pondering on our responsibility to share our spiritual journey within our families,perhaps especially as couples.As converts,we have no model of spiritual conversation within the family, and we struggle frankly to do this stuff-we just don't know how to do it.But we're working on it,just seems a shame to be so old and so stupid.

Papa D said...

Anonymous, thank you (sincerely and deeply) for your participation here. It means a lot to me - a whole lot. It also gives me a perspective of an adult convert that I simply lack in my own life. I really appreciate that.

Mama D said...

anon, I wouldn't consider it being "so old and so stupid." Each of us is on our own spiritual journey and at different points along the same road back to HF. Everyone has perspectives and experiences that contribute to the person s/he is and opportunities to share with others. We ALL benefit when we share - no matter what our circumstances and backgrounds might be or how long we've been in the Church.

I add to Papa's statement that you contribute more than you realize to the discussions here!