Included in my daily meditations is a small little publication My Daily Breadpublished by RBC Ministries http://www.rbc.org/odb/odb.shtml. It has a very short comment for each day. For December 1st it had a discussion about selecting the perfect gift. The reading suggested we should give these gifts to others:
- The Gift of Listening No interrupting, no planning response. Just careful listening to another.
- The Gift of Affection Showing a loved one we do love them and appreciate them
- The Gift of Laughter Sharing funny stories and jokes with someone and sharing the laughter
- The Gift of a Written Note Sending a handwritten note of congratulations or thanks or sympathy
- The Gift of a Compliment Giving an honest compliment to someone
These seemed to me to be wonderful suggestions for gifts we all ought to consider giving to hers
Day by Day is a book of daily meditations written by William Barclay (1907 – 1972) who was a Scottish New Testament scholar, a gifted Protestant theologian and teacher. I have a complete set of his observations about each chapter of the New Testament I’d recommend to anyone interested in understanding Scripture. Among his many publications is this book which for December 6th dealt with "Jesus Anger." Barclay started with hypocrisy. He says that in Greek the word for hypocrite is the same as the word for actor. It is someone who says one thing to your face and another behind your back. Barclay writes:
"A hypocrite is a man who plays a part, a man who puts on act, a man whose whole life is a deception. A hypocrite is a man who says one thing with his lips and quite another with his heart…"
Barclay also goes on to discuss legalism. Those who think the regulations and liturgy are more important then honest love of God and neighbor. He says that Jesus preferred honest godlessness to hypocritical piety. Barclay says that Jesus condemned those who loved a system of theology or a system of church government more then he loved God or his fellow human beings.
In matters of religion nothing bothers me more then these two subjects. Hypocrisy and church leaders who would honor rules, regulations and systems over love of some poor person struggling through life with all their failures. The cruelty of rejection of human need of spiritual needs over observance of a system of rules seems just plain wrong and yet is often characteristic of many religions. I don’t suggest religion without structure. I only suggest that many cruelties have been inflicted in the name of regulation where love was called for first.