Monday, June 05, 2017

“Your True Character Is Finally Showing Itself” By Melanie Rigney

Rembrandt [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

I called to my wife and said: "Where did this goat come from? Perhaps it was stolen! Give it back to its owners; we have no right to eat stolen food!" She said to me, "It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages." Yet I would not believe her, and told her to give it back to its owners. I became very angry with her over this. So she retorted: "Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself!" (Tobit 2:13-14)

The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:7c)

So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (The Pharisees and Herodians) were utterly amazed at him. (Mark 12:17)

Lord, open my eyes to the innumerable goodness You provide for me. Open my soul to accept and trust in the times I cannot see Your goodness.

The devout and charitable Tobit had been blinded by a bizarre set of circumstances, including poor medical care. Everyone felt horrible about all this, including Tobit, and he and his wife, Anna, fell on hard times. To help, Anna took in weaving. Anna kept at her weaving, doing such a beautiful job that one customer not only paid her but gave her a young goat in appreciation.

Now, given all that had happened, one might have thought that when Tobit heard the goat bleat, he would rejoice—finally, some good fortune! But instead, he berates her, accusing her of thievery. Anna gives it back to her husband just as forcefully, saying the incident has shown his true character, not the virtuous soul he’s displayed to the world. In the next chapter of the book, Tobit asks the Lord for mercy and prays for death.

It’s easy for all of us to appear devout and charitable when things are going well—our relationships, our health, our ministries, our jobs. It’s when the challenging times come—the bad diagnosis, the end of a marriage or friendship, the loss of money or stature—that we get cranky and suspicious and become blind to the goodness the Lord is providing even amid struggle. We accuse the very people God has sent to help us.

May we learn from Tobit to repent… and to trust, no matter how dark the world appears.

Consider the last time you had something weighing on your soul, private or public, and lashed out at someone for no reason. If appropriate, acknowledge the error of your ways to the person in person or writing. If that would benefit you rather than the person, consider instead discussing your error at confession, and ask for God’s help in keeping your eyes open in the future so that you may show your true character.

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