What Gracious Light
Every once in a while, someone will ask me, “What’s your favorite Bible verse?” I guess a pastor is expected to have a “favorite” verse of Scripture. But I never know how to answer that question. There are so many! And a lot of them are nestled inside marvelous passages of the Bible, such as the promises of God found in Psalm 139. The last time someone asked me about a favorite Bible verse, I thought about which verses I quote most often in conversation. That brought a few chuckles. I think the verses of Scripture we latch onto say something about our personal struggles. Because I grew up being taught and preached to from the King James Bible, that’s the version I most often hear in my head when I’m thinking about an oft-quoted verse.
One verse I’ll often say to myself and others is: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil, thereof.” That’s from the 6th chapter of Matthew, where Jesus teaches his followers to lay up treasures in heaven, rather than on earth. In other words, we should put our greatest energy into efforts that matter for eternity. Jesus reminds his followers that God’s care for nature indicates that we also will be cared for by God, as we seek his righteousness. The lesson then concludes: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought of the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34, KJV) Translation? Don’t borrow worry from the future. I tend to do that, a lot. Do you? I think that’s why it’s one of my favorite verses from the Bible.
Another verse I’ll often quote comes immediately after the one above in Matthew, though I don’t usually think of them, together. Jesus says: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” I used to have a friend who would quote that verse right before sharing some bit of gossip! It was kind of funny, but certainly contradictory. Verses 1 and 2 of Matthew 7 say: “Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2, KJV) Translation? Being judgmental of people is like a boomerang – it comes back to us in the form of judgment from others. While we must at times make discernments about the actions of others for the sake of the public good, we’re to leave the judgment of other people in God’s hands as much as possible.
One other verse that often comes to my mind is not from Scripture, but from an ancient Christian prayer called Phos Hilaron (“O Gracious Light’): "You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices, O Son of God, O Giver of Life, and to be glorified through all the worlds.” This is a vesper prayer, and I think of it nearly every time I see a sunset. I also think of it when I hear happy voices in the sanctuary on Sunday morning. We are so blessed to be loved by a God who promises to care for us so that we don’t have to borrow worries from tomorrow; a God who takes on the burden of judging and who promises to judge rightly (better than we ever could!); and a God who calls us to look for his gracious light, so that we might share that Light with the world.
With prayers for your journey,