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Make Me Good, But Not Yet

In his Confessions, St. Augustine famously says that, in his youth, he prayed, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” You can see why a quote like that has had staying power. It hits close to home for a lot of people.

It hits even closer if we broaden its language: “Make me good, but not yet.” There are other virtues besides chastity and continence that we don’t want so much as we’d like to imagine.

Take forgiveness. We know we’re supposed to forgive others, but many of us would really like to cling to at least some of our grudges, whether they’re grudges against people we know or people (maybe groups) we don’t know. “Make me forgiving, but not too much: Let me hold onto some of the pleasures of feeling righteous resentment.”

Or take courage — as in having the courage of your convictions. Do we really, really want to be fearless about doing the right thing? With all the risks and hardships that’s likely to entail? Or would we rather stay at least somewhat fearful, and thus safe? “Make me kinda brave, but let me retain enough timidity to keep from getting in really big trouble.”

Write your own confessions here. In your prayers, how do you hedge on the amount of virtue you’d like to have, or the amount of vice you’d like to be rid of?

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About the Author

Matt Kaufman

Matt Kaufman has been a columnist for Boundless since the site’s founding in 1998, and did a stint as editor in 2002-2003. He’s also a former staffer and current contributing editor for Focus on the Family Citizen magazine. Matt is a freelance writer/editor who spent some years in Colorado, but gave up the mountains for the cornfields: He now lives in his hometown of Urbana, home of the University of Illinois. His house is a five minute drive from the one where he grew up, and he enjoys daily walks around the park where he used to play baseball.

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