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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Proverbs 22:1–2, 8–9, 22–23

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
   and favor is better than silver or gold.
The rich and the poor have this in common:
   the Lord is the maker of them all.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
   and the rod of anger will fail.
Those who are generous are blessed,
   for they share their bread with the poor.
Do not rob the poor because they are poor,
   or crush the afflicted at the gate;
for the Lord pleads their cause
   and despoils of life those who despoil them. (NRSV)

I assume that most of our parents spent a good amount of time deciding what our name should be. Perhaps we were named after a beloved relative. Maybe the name sounded sophisticated or pleasant and had the right amount of syllables to complement and flow with our last names. The reality is we really didn’t get a choice, yet our name is how the world knows and identifies us.

What do people think and feel when they hear your name? Do they think graciousness, kindness, and generosity? How do they speak of you to others? Do others seek your company and friendship and counsel? Are you spoken about affectionately and respectfully or critically and negatively? Does your name trigger thoughts of judgment, moodiness, impatience, and self-absorption?

Even though our parents gave great thought to naming us, it isn’t our name but rather our reputation and relationships that matter to God. Our reputation is an asset far more important than anything you can buy.

The good news is that we have a choice in how we want to be known and remembered. Clearly hard work and making a good living are important, but are you working harder at getting ahead financially than you are at improving your name and living a life of love, kindness, and generosity?

Whether we are rich or poor, God created each of us. My immigrant grandparents from Italy had nothing when they arrived in this country, but theirs were hearts filled with love and kindness. When you walked into their home, you were greeted with a hug and a directive to sit at the kitchen table to eat something with them. They wanted to hear how you were doing and share the little they had. A cup of coffee, an apple, or biscotti would be ample. The wisdom then—and now—is sharing love and hospitality with each other. How will you be remembered?

Dear Lord, no matter what the circumstances, please give me clear and untarnished eyes to see and recognize the face of my sisters and brothers--your face--so that I may share kindness, generosity, and love, and that I may nourish those in need with whatever I have. Amen.

Written by Cris Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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