I admit it, I’m a news junkie and always have been. But these days, the endless parade of horrifying headlines—hurricane after shooting after derecho after explosion after wildfire—is starting to take a toll on me. It’s exhausting, but I can’t look away—and that’s not good for me. Do you feel that way, too?
Stewardship means taking good care of something entrusted to us. That “something entrusted to us” includes our whole selves, wouldn’t you agree? As good stewards, we are called to take good care of our mental and spiritual health as well as our physical health. And that’s where some good scriptural advice can help.
Hear what St. Paul says in the letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8:
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Good advice any time, but I think it’s especially meaningful now.
Paul was in prison awaiting execution when he wrote these words to the community in Philippi. The believers in Philippi were facing persecution themselves, as Paul hints in 1:29-30. Official Roman persecution of Christians began in the year 64, not long after Paul wrote this letter, and continued for centuries. There weren’t daily newspapers or the internet back then to spread the news of horrible things as they happened, but people weren’t isolated from the news either. They knew.
In that fearful time, Paul gave his beloved friends in Philippi the best advice he possibly could. “Whatever is true . . . whatever is just . . . and worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Love is stronger than hate
He’s not telling us to hide our heads in the sand or go about our business pretending nothing’s wrong—not at all. He’s giving his friends (and us) advice that will lend us strength and courage even in fearful times.
Desmond Tutu, retired archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, worked tirelessly for decades to bring an end to systematic racial injustice in his country. His unwavering faith in God’s justice, even in fearful times, reminds me of Paul’s advice to the Philippians.
A prayer written by Archbishop Tutu is included in our hymnal, “Goodness Is Stronger than Evil” (ELW 721). (It’s also included in Tutu’s 1996 African Prayer Book, a wonderful collection of prayers from across the continent and across the centuries, available on Amazon.) And in that prayer, we are reassured:
Love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness . . .through God who loves us.
Yes, as the archbishop wrote, goodness is stronger than evil. We know that Archbishop Tutu’s faith in God’s justice was not misplaced. We know that Paul’s faith in Christ’s truth was not misplaced. We know that our faith in God’s love is not misplaced. And that faith, that sure and certain faith, gives us strength and courage, even in fearful times.
Think about these things.
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