“To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
– Micah 6:8.
THE THEME FOR THE CHINESE ANNUAL CONFERENCE (CAC) for 2011 is “Act Justly”. This is a challenge for us and I believe we can begin by showing concern for the last, the lost, and the least in our society.
We had an opportunity to extend help to the needy and learn to serve in humility when our churches participated in the Community Outreach Project (which is still on-going), organised to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the Methodist Church in Singapore. Many of us discovered that in Singapore, whose nationals enjoy an average annual income of US$21,230 (S$27,600 – the third highest in Asia after Japan and Hong Kong), we still have the destitute among us.
My involvement in the project is with a family of five. Mr Lee, the father, who is suﬀereing from Aids, is the sole breadwinner. He earns $800 a month as an odd-job labourer. His wife has to stay home to look after their three children, aged two, five and eight. Mr Lee’s monthly medical expenses are very high. Our $125 monthly subsidy for the family over a period of one year is a great help to them. I believe that there are numerous families such as Mr Lee’s in prosperous Singapore, and every visit to the family is still a sobering experience for me.
In my 27 years as a pastor, I have always had compassion and concern for the elderly and the sick. Perhaps this is the reason I am able to relate well with them. I am very grateful to my father who died early of illness but who had worked very hard to provide for the family. I honour and thank my mother who, as a young widow, was determined to bring up her seven children. In her life time, she always prayed for us, and especially for me. All this has instilled in me a respect and love for all elders who have been responsible parents to their children.
I remember the field education I was involved in when I was a student at Trinity Theological College. I served in churches on Sundays and engaged in prison counselling ministry once a week throughout the three years. On graduating, I applied to be an assistant to the then Prison Chaplain, the late Rev Khoo Siaw Hua, but the application was turned down. Since then, I have always thought about how I could fulfil my role as a Christian in showing concern to the weak in society, and in acting justly among them. Recently, I asked our current Prison Chaplain whether I could be a volunteer in the Prison Ministry. He told me that, given my present workload, he did not think I would have the time.
Indeed, one of the distinguishing marks of Christians ought to be “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”.
The Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung is the President of the Chinese Annual Conference.
Of excellence and cultivating good habits
“Having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” – 1 Peter 2:12.
ARISTOTLE SAID, “We are what we repeatedly do … Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
We are creatures of habit. Habits – over-eating, thumb-sucking, breath-holding, nail-biting, smoking, and the like – run the gambit from unpleasant to unhealthy.
Other habits, like reading, healthy eating, exercise, money management and getting adequate rest, greatly improve our quality of life.
Our lives are all composed of habits from the time we wake up all the way up to bedtime. If a habit is negative, a cycle that includes triggers, feelings, and impulses can be broken anywhere along the way. If the habit is positive and needed, we can nurture that cycle by continuing in it.
Think about certain spiritual matters that are matters of habit – faithful attendance, daily Bible study and prayer, pure speech, visitation, welcoming visitors at church services, involvement in church works, controlling the tongue, and any number of personal growth matters.
Aristotle was right. Excellence is not doing something just once. It is not even found in sporadic, occasional engagement. We cultivate excellence by focusing on certain areas with repeated, persistent eﬀort.
Paul urged the church at essalonica to “abound more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). at consisted of knowing how “to walk and to please God”.
Peter told the Christians dispersed abroad to keep their “behaviour seemly among the Gentiles” (1 Peter 2:12). In the second letter, he included excellence – a virtue – as a Christian grace (2 Peter 1:5).
Excellence is not something we are born with or just wake up possessing. It is, as Aristotle said, a matter of our habits. – KneEmail.
Neal Pollard contributes to KneEmail, a Christian resource organisation.