651) Doing What You Can– Now

By William Law (1686-1761); adapted from A Practical Treatise Upon Christian Perfection

     Eugenia is a good young woman, full of pious dispositions.  She is intending, if ever she has a family, to be the best mother ever.  Her house shall be a school of religion, and her children and servants shall be brought up in the strictest practice of faith; and she will spend her time and live in a very different manner from the rest of the world.

     It may be so, Eugenia.  The piety of your mind makes me think that you intend all this with sincerity.  But you are not yet at the head of a family, and perhaps never will be.  But, Eugenia, you now have one maid, and you do not even know what religion she is of, or if she has any faith at all.  She dresses you for church, you ask her for what you want, and then leave her to have as little Christianity as she pleases.  You turn her away, you hire another, and she comes and goes, no more instructed or edified in religion by living with you than if she had lived with anybody else.  And all this comes to pass because your mind is taken up with greater things, and you reserve yourself to make a whole family religious, if ever you come to be the head of it.

     You need not wait, Eugenia, to be so extraordinary a person.  The opportunity is now in your hands.  You may now spend your time and live in as different a manner from the rest of the world as ever you can in any other state.  Your maid is your family at present.  She is now under your care.  Be now that religious governess that you intend to be, tell her about Jesus, encourage her to pray, take her with you to church, bless her with your conversation, fill her with your own notions of faith and piety, and spare no pains to make her as holy and devout as yourself.  When you do this much good in your present state, then you are that extraordinary person that you intend to be; and till you thus live up to your present state, there is but little hope that the altering of your state will alter your way of life.

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Luke 21:1-4  —  As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” 

Matthew 25:23  —  His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

Proverbs 11:25  —  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

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O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor:  Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection, and thus may show forth in our lives what we profess by our faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

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