But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
1 Timothy 6:11-16
I had the opportunity to meet Bishop Tutu at one of my first House of Bishop's meetings. I had heard about him and read his writings, but was awed to have the opportunity to meet him. In one of our sessions, he was verbally challenged, with some anger, for his statements about the church being homophobic. I was angry on his behalf, but Bishop Tutu smiled, and with enormous compassion apologized for offending the person and went on to say he was only being faithful to where he understood God calling him. His love, steadfastness and gentleness took my breath away. And it was then I realized what a true warrior of God was. There is no real training to be this kind of warrior, just years and years of faithfulness, practice and constant humility.
Today we take a step away from the Gospel to hear from the letter to Timothy. Practical advice for those who are facing great adversity, storms and temptations. Instead of worrying about being right, and having all the things of life, the writer of the letter suggests that we focus on faithfulness by living humbly. A much harder task than being right, having wealth, or winning the big game. We are encouraged to make the life of faith our focus and to become warriors of the faiths using only gentleness, love and humility as the weapons against the onslaughts and abuses of life.
Today I ask God to help me continue to practice gentleness, humility and love in the face of attacks and despair. May we keep in mind today living examples like Bishop Tutu, who faced with an evil government, imprisonment and abuse, held firm to his faith and acts always with love and gentleness. May we be known by our love and kindness this day so that we might be known as those who are faithful and who live to serve others.