“Everyday Virtue” A Devotion on Hebrews 13:18

“Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” —Hebrews 13:18

People frequently conflate religion with morality, as if they were the same thing. When we are children we imagine that if we are good, God will reward us. But the Christian faith insists that God loves us as we are. As Paul put it: “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Those who are honest before God in prayer know their flaws and foibles, their various sins of commission and omission. As comedian Steven Wright so eloquently put it: “A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.”

Still, we humans are capable of great kindness, decency and noble acts of courage. And, though religion isn’t morality, religion can and should foster it.

For a society to function humanely there needs to be widespread commitment to what I call “everyday virtue.” To “act honorably” towards others is needed now more than ever. One only needs to read the comments section on practically any post in social media to know how viciously mean we can be toward one another.

New information technologies make communicating around the globe easier, but with it has come a coarsening of public discourse. It is easier to fling harsh and hurtful words anonymously across an electronic medium than it is face to face.

The world would be a better place if we all tried to exercise everyday virtue: to watch our words, to tell the truth, to do the right thing and to strive to have a clear conscience.

Prayer: Forgive us, O God, for all the course and unkind words and deeds we have done. And guide us to act honorably in all things.

(This is my United Church of Christ Daily Devotion for July 23, 2018. To see the original go here. To subscribe to the UCC Daily Devotional and receive it every day by e-mail go here. Photo: “Rockland Clouds” by R.L. Floyd ©2016)

“Good Trouble” A Devotion on Mark 2: 27-28

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’”—Mark 2: 27, 28

Jesus was often in trouble with the authorities because he regularly, and quite intentionally, broke the religious rules of the day. Continue reading

“Your Sons and Your Daughters Shall Prophesy” A Devotion on Acts 2:16-17

“No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.‘’—Acts 2:16-17 Continue reading

“We’re Still Learning.” A Devotion on Mark 10:42-45

“So Jesus called the disciples and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”—Mark 10:42-45 Continue reading

“SHARE!” A Devotion on Acts 2:44-45

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.”—Acts 2:44-45

My son and daughter were born 20 months apart and so played together as children. Before I was a parent I imagined that the solution to sibling competition over toys was to give them each the same one. So, for example, if you gave one of them a colorful ball, you would also give the other one an identical ball. As reasonable as this sounds it didn’t work. Apparently there is something highly acquisitive hardwired into the human condition. It turns out that both children wanted both balls. I’m tempted to reference a certain Christian doctrine here, but I’ll hold back. Continue reading

“Signing up for the Loyalty Program”

“Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people.” —Proverbs 3:3-4

Many of the companies I do business with, such as on-line retailers, airlines, and hotel chains, have “loyalty programs.” They offer “rewards” to customers who are loyal to their brand. Continue reading