By Rickie Miyake
Back at 36th Street Elementary School, graduating from one grade to the next meant wondering who’d be our next teacher. Us new 3rd graders were happy to find out it would be Mrs. Wilson because we’d heard she was very nice.
True to her reputation, Mrs. Wilson was indeed nice. We knew she cared by the way she interacted with us - patient, calm but resolute, always showing respect and concern while teaching us the requisite academics.
She taught things other than academics, though. Often, after recess or lunch she’d sit down in front of the class to have a talk with us. Not a lecture or anything formal, just a casual talk about life. Such as knowing right from wrong and doing the former and not the latter; how we should expect to be treated by others the way we treated them; how good behavior and hard work would be rewarded.
Mrs. Wilson spoke to us about morals. Never by talking down or belittling us, but as children that she really cared about. We knew she was our teacher, clearly the one in charge, but never did she hold it over our heads. My classmates and I all liked, admired and respected this exceptional lady.
I don’t recall if she ever said she was a Christian but over the many years since then I’ve always assumed she was. In speech and action she embodied many of the qualities espoused by Jesus - like scenes in an old movie or television show when the recipient of a kindness or good deed tells the doer, “that’s mighty Christian of you.”
Now I realize kindness and good deeds aren’t exclusive to Christians and also that Christians don’t always exhibit the same, but I’d say overall in this world the Christian reputation fosters an expectation for us to exemplify good moral character by being the people Jesus exhorted us to be.
Mrs. Wilson’s example reminds me to examine myself and ask if people with whom I interact would assume I was a Christian based on my actions. I hate to admit that isn’t always the case, but thanks be to God that He gives the grace to forgive when we stumble, and to try again.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. - James 2:17