Greendale Improvement Society

It’s a shabby old building sitting amidst some fairly nice looking business establishments. Its white paint hasn’t looked fresh for decades. It is so rundown-looking it has a certain charm, but what really catches one’s attention is the large sign above the porch. It reads, “Greendale Improvement Society.” The paint on the sign is so faded you have to look carefully to read its ironic message.

Like that old building many of us make resolutions to improve ourselves and soon discover our best intentions have become historic relics. New Years Day comes and we decide to lose weight, read that pile of books we bought last year, memorize 1 Corinthians 13, return a faithful tithe, exercise everyday and not yell at the kids. Nevertheless, just like the Greendale Improvement Society’s chipped paint and faded sign, our dreams of improvement become charming artifacts. At least we hope they are charming.

Self-discipline is an admirable trait that deserves an Academy Award. While it will never receive one, self-discipline does come with built-in rewards.

Nine times in the Psalms the Psalmist cries out to the Lord, “Help me.” If we have some good intentions about self-improvement, it is time to ask for help lest we become like the Greendale Improvement Society’s old building.

Written January 28, 2003