Doing Good Works or Being a Christian

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    I exploded when my thirteen-year-old son Rob refused to take the bulky package to the post office for me. My harsh voice let him know just how uncooperative I thought he was. Even his tears didn’t stop my tirade. Just then an older son quietly picked up the package and said he would do the errand for me.

    “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” I asked Rob. He left the room unhappily.

    Self-righteously I wondered why it was so difficult to do something nice for someone—the package contained clothes for a needy family I’d read about in a New York newspaper. But a few minutes later, when I knelt to pray for its safe delivery, I was shocked to have this thought come: “Don’t call me Father when you act like that!”

    I reviewed the things I’d said so angrily to Robert; I had intentionally hurt him. I hadn’t spoken with love or with the spirit of the Lord. Penitently, I went to find Robert. His forgiveness came readily—with a smile. I went back and prayed again, a chastened petitioner.

    I learned a lesson that day: I can never make the Lord partner to an unloving frame of mind, regardless of what “good works” I might think I’m accomplishing. And if I want to be his child and have my gifts acceptable to him, I must act in a spirit of love. Lila M. Selover, Hillsdale, New Jersey