Augustine of Hippo: Conduct and Charity

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Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. Psalm 96:1-3

“Sing with your voices, sing also with your hearts sing with your mouths, sing also with your conduct…His praise, you see, is not to be found in the synagogues of the Jews, nor in the madness of the pagans, nor in the errors of the heretics, nor in the applause of the theaters. You ask where it is to be found? Look at yourselves, you be it. His praise is in the Church of the saints…Submit yourselves, my dear brothers, to a thorough interrogation, turn out your innermost closets and cupboards. Take careful stock of how much you have of charity, and increase the stock you find. Pay attention to that sort of treasure, so that you may be rich within.”

Augustine of Hippo in Sermon 34.6-7 in Sermons 20-50 on the Old Testament, translation and notes by Edmond Hill (Brooklyn: New City, 1990) 168.

In the stillness of the morning hours, I can almost hear Augustine preaching this sermon.

“Sing with your mouths… sing also with your conduct…¬†turn out your innermost closets and cupboards. Take careful stock of how much you have of charity, and increase the stock you find. Pay attention to that sort of treasure, so that you may be rich within.”

What message am I singing among the nations (or in Sydney this week)? Am I rich in charity? How about you?

Our lives sing whatever we cherish in the innermost closet and cupboard of our hearts. Augustine rightly charges us to make one thing most important. The thing the Apostle Paul labeled the greatest of all thing, charity. It’s love seasoned with grace.

Once we have charity we can live with generosity. Then we are rich within and resourced to sing His praise in word and deed.

God, fill me with charity. Like I stuff my suitcase for travels, fill the innermost closets and cupboards of my heart with charity, so that I may generously proclaim the truth with grace in Australia. Do this for everyone reading this so our voices and conduct sing Your praise to the nations. Amen.