Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
“My feeling about people in whose conversation I have been allowed to play a part is always mixed with awe and even fear: such as a boy might feel on being first allowed to fire a rifle. The disproportion between his puny finger on the trigger and the thunder and lightning which follow is alarming. And the seriousness with which the other party takes my words always raises the doubt whether I have taken them seriously enough myself. By writing the things I write, you see, one especially qualifies for being hereafter “condemned out of own’s own mouth.” Think of me as a fellow patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier could give some advice”
C.S. Lewis in “Letter to Sheldon Vanauken” dated 22 April 1953 in A Severe Mercy (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1977) 134.
I got to shoot a long-range rifle last week in South Dakota at a friend’s ranch. The target was 450 yards away. I was simultaneously excited and scared to pull the trigger.
Imagine the extremes. That’s what Lewis is trying to get us to grasp.
God is giving me perspective on life and work. He is calling me to a deeper place of humility. It’s hard to describe which is why I identify with how Lewis uses the rifle and hospital motifs.
As kindness was my word last year and compassion this year, it interesting that humility is often coupled with these traits. Perhaps that will be my word for next year? Undoubtedly, these traits are interconnected.
Lest our words and actions condemn us, we need to pause to discern how we ourselves are clothed.
As we start another week, I want to remind us all that if we are generous or help others grow, we must avoid thinking to less or too much of ourselves. We are not the message but only His messengers.
And if we do offer advice, let’s do it like this: “Think of me as a fellow patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier could give some advice”