Red letter values


Righteousness. Justice. Peace. Mercy. Humility. Goodness. Faithfulness. Truthfulness. Compliance. Generosity. Forgiveness. Empathy. Sincerity. Trust. Lowliness. Inclusiveness. Defenselessness. Letting people in.

Where did these words come from? They come from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. These are either words Jesus uses or descriptive words to capture the essence of what Jesus taught. At any rate, they are close to His heart. That’s why I colored them red. If you want to be red letter, then you need to be comfortable with these qualities, and indeed, seeking to make them part of your life.

Now for some words that are conspicuously not included in this list: Success. Pride. Reputation. Wealth. Position. Power. Hierarchy. Intolerance. Defensiveness. War. Judgment. Exclusiveness. Law. Discrimination. Keeping people out.

Where did these words come from? These are qualities or attitudes that are not included in the Sermon on the Mount, or if they are, they are warned against. In most cases, they are not only not a part of what makes up a Jesus follower, they are condemned by Jesus, as with judgment, pride and wealth. They are antithetical to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God operates on the basis of the first list.

And yet, the qualities in the second list are most common to our culture, especially now in America, and many have crept into the church where they are not only tolerated, they are justified. This is why Jesus was, is, and will always be countercultural — in the culture and in the church. The red letters run largely against human nature. It takes the presence of the Holy Spirit to work these qualities into our lives, putting us in compliance with His will. And it takes a community of believers who champion these qualities together to keep us on track. This is why the Catch community exists.

Tack the red list on your refrigerator, or at least the refrigerator of your mind. These are qualities to contemplate, to understand more deeply, and to take on. These are red letter values that will identify us as true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ and set us apart from the prevailing spirit of the age.

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9 Responses to Red letter values

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    Love the words of Jesus! ❤

  2. While I can’t immediately recall if Jesus uttered – in red letters anyway – the words “patience”, “longsuffering”, “forbearance”, or others of similar definition, it would do us good to also tack them onto our refrigerators as well as apply them to our own lives, desires, and decisions.
    For, along with the red-lettered words in your post, Jesus was the living and dying and resurrected example – in fact, the epitome – of all the words mentioned above.

    A story is told about a preacher who was known for his poise and quiet manner. However, sometimes, even he suffered moments of frustration. One day a friend saw him pacing the floor irritably. “What’s the trouble?” the friend asked the preacher. “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!” the preacher replied.

    We must adorn ourselves with patience even when things don’t make sense to us. Sometimes we are so sure that we know better and that, perhaps, God has made a mistake. But God doesn’t make mistakes. Everything that happens is exactly as it should be. We only need to be patient – sometimes for a very long time. Remember, though, patience is a small price to pay for the opportunity to live a faith-filled, obedient life, and not, God forbid, the opposite.

  3. John A Fagliano says:

    The “refrigerator of your mind”? This must be the part of my mind that is cold and not compassionate. That frosty section where I place certain folks who I don’t like and offer no warmth in my thoughts toward them. Unplug that thing and set them free!

  4. Sandie says:

    I recently read a book titled They Love Jesus but Don’t Like The Church (or something close to that; I’ve passed it on to a friend). People loved Jesus (or the idea of him) because of all those ‘red-letter’ qualities He embodied and stood for. They don’t like the church, because in their dealings with it they were repelled by ‘the spirit of the age.’ How sad. But we are still in the Age of Grace, the fields are still ready for harvest…there is still time…you and I need to make the most of it.

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