Readings: Psalm 27; Isaiah 26:7-15; Acts 2:37-42
My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
If favor is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness they deal perversely and do not see the majesty of the Lord.
O Lord, your hand is lifted up, but they do not see it.
[Isaiah 26:9-11a, NRSV]
You cannot profit from serving as a volunteer on a municipal board: it’s one of the ethical basics, and not a difficult concept. But that didn’t stop one of the board members I worked with a few years back. She wanted to use her position as trustee and her connections to sell her merchandise and gain customers. No matter how it was explained, she refused to see that this was an ethical violation. In cases of other people doing the same, she could see it quite clearly; it was only when it concerned her own profit that she became blind and deaf.
The board gave her a choice: make a profit or stay on the board. In a last effort to get around this restriction, she offered to give back ten percent of whatever monies she made. She remained on the board, but continued to seek to profit from her service. She received the same choice each time. She did not learn her lesson. It tried the patience of the other board members, and her constant pushing became a burden.
Years later, reading the following words, I thought of her:
Those who give you a serpent when you ask for a fish, may have nothing but serpents to give. It is then generosity on their part. [Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam; New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982, p. 35]
How much of wickedness is a hoarding of snakes when fish are plentiful? Can we be so blind that we cannot tell one from the other?