Voice of the Day: Do Not Be Daunted

The origin of today’s voice of the day is murky, but it has been attributed to Rabbi Tarfon. Regardless of who first said these words, they ring true:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

One of the reasons they ring true for me is because they paraphrase one of my favorite scripture verses (it was a favorite of John Wesley’s and has long been beloved by the people called Methodists):

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
— Micah 6:8 (NRSV)

The wonderful thing about the interpretation of this passage attributed to Rabbi Tarfon is how it saves us from inaction when we despair of ever solving the world’s problems. We don’t have to solve them (God’s taking care of that), we don’t have to complete the work (God will see it through), but we are not free to give up. We must make ourselves a part of what God is doing in the world.