Recently, I began reading C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters. The book is written in the format of a series of letters from a senior demon to a junior demon in training who is still learning about the various ways to make man fall and stumble into sin till so he ultimately loses his soul. So far, I’m enjoying it. As with the few other works by Lewis that I’ve read, I find myself appreciating the manner in which he gives his readers a new take on the things that seem so familiar.

I’ll stop writing here about the quality of his work and get to the substance. One short excerpt from the The Screwtape Letters has been bouncing around in my head since I read it and it’s worth sharing. Screwtape, the senior demon writing these instructional letters, speaks of God’s desires for man in the following terms: “He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

When I read that sentence, I had to pause for a second and think about the magnitude of what it was saying. Yes, the words seem quite plain on their face but they actually resonate with the weight of the Bible behind them. The weight of the word of God  is contained in that short sentence. What is the Bible other than the the living Word that explains to us how to live our lives, how we can be holy just as our God in heaven is holy, how we can be perfect just as our Father in heaven is perfect.

And how is this holiness and perfection attained but by following His commands. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Give to him who asks of you.” “Judge not, so you shall not be judged.” “Pray for those who hate you.” “Ask and you shall receive.” They go on and on and give much comfort to the aching soul because they reveal the beauty of the God who uttered these commandments of love and compassion.

Yet, this short excerpt mirrors and goes to the heart of one particular verse in the Bible: “You shall know them by their fruits.” It is our actions that reveal who we are. What we do at a given moment, what we say, the looks we give, what we leave behind. It is never the things that happen to us that are remembered by others, but how we react to those things that is not forgotten. Lewis is right. We spend much time anticipating the future, all the could be’s, should be’s, and maybes and not enough time acting in the present.

The future will come; you can trust me on that one. But what will matter is not what it brings, but how we act in the face of what it brings.

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