Daily Devotion for January 5, 2010
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer from Psalm 101May I be careful to lead a blameless life.
May I walk in the integrity of my heart in the midst of my house.
May I set no wicked thing before my eyes.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
May it not cling to me.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Gold Rings and Fine Clothes
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?
Notes on the Scripture
Often you hear (or say) "cleanliness is next to godliness", but there is little support for the saying in the Bible. If anything, it is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament. Early Christians, especially the very fervent, often took to the countryside and refused some form of personal hygiene or adornment. St. Francis of Assisi, for example, who was due to inherit considerable worldly goods, renounced all of it, including the clothing; he went barefoot. John the Baptist would have been kicked out of any restaurant in New York. On the other hand, nothing in the Bible forbids bathing, or (in the New Testament) shaving, or any basic hygience. It is just that such matters are matters of the world and have nothing to do with godliness.
Obsession with personal adornment, on the other hand, is one of the great areas of uncriticized sinfulness in modern society. Vanity is a powerful urge, the servant of mighty Pride, king of the deadly sins. The fashion industry is a testament to the power of vanity; even worse, its adherents are ludicrously convinced of its importance. Cosmetic surgery has become a flourishing business.
It is hard to resist. Even if you personally don't have a great problem with appearances, living in a culture where the importance of fashion and appearance goes unquestioned presents a powerful force to comply. The Amish will tell a woman, "you look very plain today"; they take a lack of personal vanity as a sign of devotion, and the culture supports minimalizing pride in appearance in favor of pursuing rewards of the Spirit.
It is often hard to grasp how very non-Christian society is, even in "Christian" countries. In the matter of dress and appearance, even very sincere Christians will make compromises and rationalize conduct and beliefs that damage their faith. It is a good area of meditation and prayer, when you feel called to examine your sins, to examine your conduct and attitudes about personal appearance.