I have been doing a much better job lately of living day-to-day. This approach to life, realizing that what I really have is only this moment, taking to heart Jesus’ admonition to take care of this day because each day has enough trouble of its own, is really a great leap forward for a compulsive worrier such as myself. It is a very freeing way to approach life when you don’t bog yourself down with the “what ifs” that plague the anxiety-ridden.
As God so often works, I happened to read a really great passage in C.S. Lewis’ Scewtape Letters this week that will help me live each moment in an even more Godly way. After all, it’s easy to live-in-the-moment and fall into the trap of living for the moment, plunging yourself solely into the pleasures and challenges of this life instead of contemplating the next one.
What C.S. Lewis proposes is that each person has three questions to ask of herself before doing anything:
- Is it righteous?
- Is it prudent?
- Is it practical?
We need to be sure that we define these questions according to the Bible. The first word, righteous, means “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin” according to Webster’s Dictionary. If we want the Bible’s definition, we need only turn to the Sermon on the Mount, starting in Matthew 5, to learn about this word from every angle. Jesus simplified righteousness the most when He summed up the law with two edicts: loving God first and most and loving and treating everyone else as we ourselves want to be loved and treated. So, when I ask myself, is this righteous, I know I have to begin my thinking in the realm of love that IS God.
Something that is prudent is “marked by wisdom or judiciousness” (Webster’s). We know from the Proverbs that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. We also know that we can only gain wisdom of God through daily study of His word, daily time with Him in prayer, and concsious knowledge on our part that we really don’t know anything at all when compared with God’s wisdom. So, is our action wise according to the dictates laid out by God, according to His goals for a Christian’s life?
Practical things are “manifested in action, not theoretical or ideal.” They are “capable of being put to use or account/ useful” (Webster’s). It can be so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts all the time, wondering or complaining about how things should be instead of taking care of how things are. But, practical actions are more likely to point outward, to think of others instead of just the self. It’s all very easy to say to ourselves that we love other people. It is another thing altogether to serve food in a soup kitchen or volunteer for a community group or bake dinner for the older neighbor who lives next door. Again, Jesus helped define what was practical during His ministry, often to the shock of the “more religious” Pharisees, who could not see the holiness of some of His actions because they could not see past their own rigidly-defined religion. For example, they did not understand how unclean things like utensils used to eat on the outside do not make a person unclean on the inside.
It’s often been said to count to ten before speaking when you are angry. I like this idea of taking time to ask myself three questions before I take an action or say something I may otherwise regret. I especially love the way that God works for the good the things that happen in our lives. Just as I am learning to live without worry, God gives me something positive to think about to make my “moment-living” even more productive from a Christian perspective. Thank you, Jesus!