Faith in a Verb

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Matthew 7:12

Here in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we find the origin of the Golden Rule. Even among those who know nothing about Jesus and are indifferent to his teaching, these words are familiar.

I wish you could know my wife, Terri. She’s the Golden Rule with skin on. Any of you who read this and know her are nodding in agreement right now. Whenever she hears of someone in need, her spontaneous response is, “What can I do?” It’s unusual for her to leave for work in the morning without hauling food or gifts for others she’ll see during the day. She doesn’t need a car, she needs a Yak! She’s a walking blessing-factory.

Jesus’ Golden Rule is the positive form of a negative principle that was also common in ancient literature. Its negative form is sometimes called “The Silver Rule.” It goes something like this, “Don’t do to others the things you wouldn’t want done to you.” It has been said that you really don’t have to do anything to fulfill The Silver Rule. The Golden Rule is about actively doing something good while Silver Rule is about passively avoiding doing anything bad. The Golden Rule is about actively making life better. The Silver Rule is about avoiding making life worse.

If Terri is The Golden Rule with skin on then that would make me The Silver Rule with skin on. I am a thinker more than a doer. Don’t misunderstand, my heart goes out to others, but doing something about it is another matter. It requires creative thinking, physical action, multiple trips to the car, time on my calendar. What it really requires is a series of little deaths to self. That’s why I prefer The Silver Rule to The Golden Rule.

Jesus came not only to teach what we are to know and believe, but also, what we are to do. It helps to remember that faith is more of a verb than a noun. We don’t “have” faith, so much as we “do” faith.

By faith Mother Teresa (1910-1997) established the Sisters of Charity that fed the hungry, clothed the naked, bound up the wounded, and tended to the dying.

By faith Johannes Guttenberg (1398-1468) turned his love for the Bible into a printing press that changed the world.

By faith William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873) wrote McGuffey’s Eclectic Reader that sold 120 million copies and was the standard for public education in America for generations.

By faith Nancy Duarte has worked for over 20 years to build an internationally respected design firm in Silicon Valley to the glory of God, even going so far as to forgive an enormous debt for one client.

By faith Robert Larson prayed about his work as President of Reynolds—and now, a world leader in the packing industry, he continues to approach business as a mission and treat his employees with grace and dignity.

By faith Amy Ford, who has type 1 diabetes, is pursuing a degree in Community & Public Health Promotion to help others with chronic diseases, and by faith, she has publicly shared her intentions to honor God in her work.

If not for The Golden Rule, the world would be a mean, dark, and heartless place. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be a Silver Rule Christian, but Jesus clearly instructs us to take a step further and be Golden Rule Christians whose faith is a verb.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In thinking about the difference between the Golden Rule and the Silver Rule, which do you tend to be? What does it mean to you to die to yourself for the sake of others? In what areas of life is this hardest for you?

PRAYER: Gracious God, help me to make my faith more active. When confronted with need, suffering, injustice, hopelessness, and evil, prompt me to step forward in sacrificial service, for the sake of my savior, Jesus Christ who gave his life as a ransom for me. Amen.


Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren. Send a note to Dave.

Spiritual Disciplines

What if spiritual discipline is easier than we think it is? In his book Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster offers this list of spiritual disciplines: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.

That list can look like a mountain to climb and a setup for failure. We start to ask questions like: What spiritual disciplines should I practice in my work life? Does prayer make a difference in my work life? Does a Christian layperson really need to read the Bible everyday? We wonder how to fit spiritual disciplines into our lives with so many deadlines and meetings and expectations and budgets. Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air to discover the Holy Spirit at work, even here, even without working so hard to bring the Spirit with us everywhere? We hope this series on Spiritual Disciplines gives you freedom and a little more space to breathe.

Featured image by Mary Anne Morgan. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.