I Read Someone Else’s Mail

by Nan Corbitt Allen

When I was in grade school, I learned how to write a letter. I remember practicing different kinds of letters, formal and informal, and noting where the heading, the date, the address, and the signature went on the page. Unfortunately, the use of written letters, stamped and sent by USPS, is becoming rather obsolete as a way of communication – replaced by texting, email, and blogs. That’s unfortunate, because so much recorded history would have been lost if not for the handwritten letters sent by those who have gone before us.

For instance, one of my favorite books is John Adams written by David McCullough. (This book was turned into a wonderful HBO series.) So much of the content of this book (and so much of what we know of colonial America and our fight for independence) was gleaned from the letters that our second president wrote to his wife, Abigail. Of course, these letters weren’t necessarily meant to be read by anyone other than Abigail, but they are of great benefit to us today. They not only provide facts but perspective as well.

Every time I read the letters recorded in the Holy Bible (like the epistles of Paul), I try to remember that the Apostle had no idea that some 2,000 years later, we would not only be reading them, but embracing their theology and directions for godly living.

In the chapter 6 of Paul’s first letter to his good friend, Timothy, I was inspired and intrigued by what I found:

There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV

Those of us who make a living in ministry need to hear this. I know I did. Paul writes on…

But you, man of God, flee from all this [love of money], and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Tim. 6:11 NIV

Remember, this was a private letter meant for Timothy’s eyes only. And yet this now encourages, teaches, and convicts us today!

Even though letter writing on paper may be going by the wayside, we are still leaving archives of words, deeds, and attitudes behind. I sometimes fail to remember that I am building a base upon which others will stand one day. As Paul put it: laying up “a firm foundation for the coming age” (1 Tim. 6:19 NIV).

The end of Paul’s first letter to Timothy spoke clearly to me this morning:

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. 1 Tim. 6:20 NIV

These last words inspire me to take care of the people, the tasks, and the calling that God has given me.

First Timothy. A personal letter from one man to another? Yes, but I don’t think that they would mind if I open and read their mail sometimes. In fact, I think they’d be delighted.

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I Read Someone Else’s Mail – Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: What Scripture has inspired you lately?