Gifts of Grace

A Prayer for Knowing Oneself Better

I thank you, Lord,
for knowing me better than I know myself, 
and for letting me know myself
better than others know me.
Make me, I pray you,
better than they suppose,
and forgive me for what they do not know.

According to tradition, the forecourt of the ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi had inscribe on it the words γνῶθι σεαυτόν, “know thyself.”  The maxim “know thyself” has had a variety of meanings attributed to it in literature. The Suda, a tenth century encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, says: “the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are,” and that “know thyself” is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude.

Though not a Christian maxim, Jesus actually says “Heal Thyself,” it certainly applies to us as well as to the other religions and philosophies that have used it.  Romans 12:3-8 states

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

This passage s often called “Gifts of Grace.”  Each of us have our unique gifts and we should use them according to God’s will.  To know our gifts, we must know ourselves.  God knows us best and guides us through life and we must trust in him to guide us along the narrow path of righteousness.  Knowing our qualities as LGBT Christians is an important aspect of our life.  We get rejected by some in our own community, whether that community is the community of Christ or that of our gay brethren.  We could reject one in favor of the other, but we would be following the wide, easier path instead of the narrow, more difficult path.  However, if we trust in God and pray for his guidance we will know ourselves and which path to follow.
Today is also Palm Sunday, which commemorates the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest on Holy Thursday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent, and the week in which Christians celebrate the mystery of their salvation through Christ’s Death and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Without Christ’s death and resurrection, we would be unable to ever truly know ourselves nor have the gift of grace bestowed upon us by God’s eternal love and infinite mercy.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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