Grace: light so that I may know the origin of all created things and the reason God has given them to me – and for the grace that I might use them accordingly
Text for Prayer: Genesis 1:26-31
Reflection: “Life is too short! Have fun while you can!” That is the advice of a pagan world where gluttony masquerades as joy and indulgence passes for hope. But even in this foggy world of pitiful approximations, we can see in our natures a yearning for something else and a recognition that we are meant for something eternal. Life is indeed short when compared to the timeless time without end that we are destined for. And our hearts yearn for that stable rock that we rest upon when we rest in God. We are truly pilgrims at heart, every one of us, until we rest in God. The things of this world cannot satisfy our hearts – worthy as they are as faint likenesses of God’s infinite beauty, steps of the ladder which unites earth with heaven and by which we climb to God’s throne.
All things are a means to know God (Rom 1:20). Their goodness testifies to the goodness of the One who created them. They are a means to love Him more. To love God’s creation isn’t sinful; it is sinful only to love them independent of God, stopping before our hearts can be turned toward the Creator. And we must understand the use of things as a means to develop our activities as individuals, as members of a family and of a society. Created things can be part of how we love one another, providing for those who are in need. And finally, created things play their part in the development of our own virtues, practicing stewardship, patience, and self-denial.
So we must be on our guard to make good use of what God has given us, careful never to use these gifts contrary to their (and our) Creator’s will for us. Sin is the corruption of what is good and we must avoid using God’s creation simply with pleasure in mind or to hide from what is hard or painful. We belong to our belongings, so to speak; to misuse them is to misuse ourselves.
These created things are our servants. They are given to us that we may direct them and ourselves to the Lord Our God. We are charged with being the eyes for those who cannot see this. We must be the heart for those that cannot worship and love. We are all priests of creation, set apart to offer to God the prayer and incense of the crooked world we live in. The whole earth is a temple and our hearts are an inner shrine. In the end, we must find ourselves watchful. We must become aware of what we make use of and how we make use of it. And the standard by which we judge it can be no other than that standard given by the Creator Himself. We were made to praise, reverence, and serve God. All created things must be ordered to this end and we should prefer nothing except insofar as it helps us praise, reverence, and serve as we were created to do.
Pray: O God, help me understand that everything comes from Your hands and is ruled by Your scepter. Let me keep that scepter in my sight as I partake of what You have offered me, desiring to make use of these things only when they come to my aid in praising, reverencing, and serving You. I depend on Your grace for the knowledge of what I may make use of and what I must avoid. Please give me the grace to avoid my own selfish desires so that I may act only out of love for You and service to Your people.