Instruct The Ignorant

Week 5 | Spiritual Work of Mercy

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one. (Colossians 4:6)


By Sarah Swafford

We will all be called upon at one time or another to impart “facts” and knowledge about the truths of our faith. But as the saying goes, “More is caught than taught.” Communicating this spiritual and Christian wisdom is a way of life, not merely a memorized lecture; it touches the head and the heart and therefore transforms the whole person—intellectually, spiritually, morally, and emotionally. To instruct the ignorant in this way requires a life of witness; it requires that we radiate the love, peace, and joy that Christ has lavished upon us—and only in this way can we authentically communicate it to others.

If we think of instructing the ignorant as an overly cerebral enterprise in which we are worried about having a flawless argument or making sure we have the perfect answer to every accusation against our faith, then this work of mercy could sound smug or even condescending. But if we understand the deeper purpose of knowledge (namely wisdom, and ultimately faith), we then see that this work of mercy aims at nothing short of communicating the love of God to every person we meet. Each person has been willed into existence by God and each person has a unique part to play in the grand story of human life in light of the cross. Instructing the ignorant aims to help each person find his or her role in this great story of salvation, giving him or her meaning and purpose—and ultimately a mission to do the same for others.

Excerpt taken from Chapter 9 of Beautiful Mercy. Get your free copy of the book (just pay shipping).


Take a look in the mirror. Examine your conscience. Do you practice what you preach? Pope Blessed Paul VI rightly proclaimed, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”


Contemplate the blessings God has given you, and live out of gratitude for his love.


Almighty Father, help me to be a witness of your love and mercy.


Are you a teacher or a witness?