Many of us are familiar with these well known words of Jesus. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Repeatedly Jesus cautioned his followers about being too possessive of possessions and material things.
That said, there are possessions that are passed down generation to generation that are treasures and can ground us to what is important. The other day I pulled a family Bible off a shelf. The Bible is from the 1880’s and has been part of my family since that time. Within the pages, people have left notes and words of inspiration to those who would follow.
As I was going through the pages, I found my great-grandmother’s report card from 1880 or so. While she did well in school, what caught my attention was the first line on the report card that said, “Deportment.” I have not seen or heard that word since I was in elementary school in the early 1960’s. How I remember my parents commenting on my deportment grade each time they saw my report card.
It used to be that deportment was an important concept not only in schools but in our culture. Sadly, many people now may not even know what the word means. After finding my great grandmother’s report card and her deportment score, I reflected back on my own conduct in my school years. Soon I found myself pondering my own conduct now, in this 21st century, where most forms of behavior seem to be acceptable in politics, business, sports, school, and largely every domain.
I guess what troubles me is not only the deportment I witness every day, but that so many forms of deportment appear to be ok to many. Even some politically engaged Christians seem to accept just about any form of deportment as long as their own political agenda is being pursued.
As followers of Jesus, ultimately there is one form of deportment that is fundamental, if we take our faith seriously. That is, the degree to which our words, actions, thoughts, and expressions are reflective of the love of God. While I am sometimes off the mark and continue to work on my deportment, I believe God just might be inviting us all to ask ourselves what is the most loving thing to do or say in response to people and situations we encounter throughout each day.
While I don’t believe God is keeping score of our deportment or writing it down on a report card, I do believe how loving we are in all domains of life is of fundamental importance to God. Although we are not called to evaluate or be judgmental of the deportment of others, certainly God invites each of us to be attentive to our own.
I wish I had known my great-grandmother. Not only were her academic and deportment scores very good, but she left many notes of love behind which I am taking to heart.