Like so many of you, I expect, I tend to collect my Reader’s Digests and reread them over and over. One of the benefits of being over fifty is that sometimes you can do this and it’s as if you’re reading it for the first time. . .
All kidding aside, I was reading an article in my September, 2010 issue by Cameron Gunn titled How Ben Franklin Changed My Life. A quote stuck in the middle of the page jumped out at me: “The noblest question in the world,” Franklin wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanack, “is, What Good may I do in it?”
Wow, what a great question.
I wonder how many times, if we asked ourselves this question, might we resist acting or speaking on impulse. Or, even beyond impulse, might it prevent us from plotting, gossiping or otherwise scheming against our neighbor? Any action or word that would not contribute good would have to be ignored. I suspect this sounds much easier in theory than it would play out in reality.
Of course we always hope to act in a way that contributes good to a situation, and if we are following God’s will, that will always be the case. It is when we set out on our own, following our own impulses, that we usually get into trouble.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) we are called to be peacemakers and this is different than simply being peace lovers, as the popular William Barclay of bible commentary fame has noted.
The question, “What Good can I do in it?” challenges us to seek peace and work toward reconciliation. It is a call to walk humbly, letting our pride fall by the wayside. Pride, as we so well know, does nothing to work toward peace. It keeps us feeling arrogant and powerful over others. It makes us smug. This is not the way of God, not at all! It is not the way to peace and it is certainly not the way of love.
Each of us is called to be a Servant of Love. This is a vow we can make that dovetails nicely with the question at hand. A Servant of Love–linguistically, and in reality, multi-leveled–is a call to be at the service of Love (God) and at the same time, to serve others out of our love for God.
I coined this phrase Servant of Love many years ago, believing that it fully encompasses our Christian call. It speaks of service, which Jesus modeled so perfectly, it speaks of loving God, and it speaks of humbly submitting to love–being at the “service of love” in all things, at all times, to all people.
The phrase, naturally, goes beyond Franklin’s question, but if we have the courage to ask “What Good may I do in it?” we may just find ourselves expanding far beyond “Good” to the height of love. What a beautiful place to be!
May God speak to you today and inspire you to become a Servant of Love.
As always, I welcome your comments.
Copyright 2011 Janet Cassidy