On Being Kind

“A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel person brings ruin on himself.”

Proverbs 11:17 (CSB)

He was a tightfisted taskmaster who had no warmth in his heart. His employees were afraid of him, and he shared nothing with others. Who is this man? His name was Ebenezer Scrooge.

Of course we all know this famous literary character from Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol. When I read Proverbs 11:17, Scrooge came to mind. He is a perfect example of the idea that a cruel person brings ruin upon himself.

From Scrooge’s story, and God’s word, we know that cruel words and actions do not benefit anyone. The Bible reminds us that when we’re tempted to say something unkind, we can remember that kindness is the better way. Proverbs 12:25 tells us a kind word cheers up others. Proverbs 15:1 explains that a gentle answer turns away wrath. And Proverbs 16:24 describes pleasant words as “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Kind words are important, but so are kind actions. Generosity is refreshing according to Proverbs 11:25. Those who give gifts are blessed according to Proverbs 18:16. And Proverbs 19:17 encourages us to be kind to the poor.

As we enter this busy Christmas season, we should remember who we are, and whose we are, and act accordingly. As Christians, we are held to a higher standard, but with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, we can be a light shining for Christ. And, when we mess up, as I’m sure we will at some point standing in a long line or feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things we think we need to do, let us remember there is always hope. After all, Scrooge started off miserly and cruel at the beginning of his tale but, by the end of the story, he wound up a kind and generous man with a new perspective on life!

I enjoy watching Christmas movies every year, and I have to admit The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my favorites! Who doesn’t love Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit?

“A Picture Says…”

It’s been a busy few weeks and I have not had time to write a devotion but I wanted to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! Each day this month, Bert, Caroline and I have been writing down one thing for which we are thankful. Keeping this list has been a lot of fun, and I think we will keep the list going year-round. Remembering to count our many blessings is a great way to help us keep life in perspective!

In lieu of writing about some of the things I’m grateful for, I’m sharing a photo collage of them with you. Some of the things will be obvious, some not so obvious! “They” say a picture says a thousand words, so here are 9,000 words for you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you would like a fun page to use for your own Grateful List, click here: grateful list

Miles Apart

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)

This past weekend, my family enjoyed an outdoor Christmas festival on a small town square. We’ve attended this event for a few years now, and my daughter and her friend always have certain things they make it a point to see and do while we’re there. This particular year, though, the girls discovered a new favorite thing which, interestingly enough, was juxtaposed with a least favorite thing.

As we approached the square, we were greeted on the street corner by a man standing on a bucket and shouting out hateful words about gender roles in our society while quoting scripture from Isaiah. We walked past him as fast as we could, and while I couldn’t tell you exactly which verses he quoted, I was still shocked by the anger in his voice.

Less than two minutes later, as we walked down the same sidewalk, we passed in front of a beauty salon where we were invited to have free hot chocolate, coffee and homemade cake! The two young girls serving the snacks told our girls that they could go inside the salon and get their faces painted. Of course, we did, and it was the best thing ever.

While Caroline and Madison were being transformed into reindeer decked with colored lights, Bert and I enjoyed looking around the salon that looked like the one from the movie Steel Magnolias, and visiting with the owner who had been there for more than 40 years. The free face painting and tasty treats were sponsored by a local church, just like the man on the corner, but what a difference in their approach!

The two groups representing Jesus were separated by only a few blocks in distance, but they were miles apart in terms of their compassion and kindness. Proverbs 12:18 describes these two approaches to sharing our faith with others: we can use rude and reckless words to startle people and push them away, or we can speak with the wisdom and encouragement that come directly from God.

When you share your own beliefs, are you more like the “free snacks” group or the “shouting prophet”? You never know what is going on with any person you encounter, so it is important that our words speak healing and life to others. Everybody needs hope, and we should carry that, and not criticism, to those we meet.

Dress Your Heart

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

I’m terrible at video games but I can appreciate the creative challenges they present. For instance, I recently watched over my daughter’s shoulder as she played a game called Crossy Road on our iPad. If you’re a child of the Eighties, this game is a lot like Frogger. The object of the game is to get the proverbial chicken across the road – but the “road” is a series of traffic-laden highways and railroad tracks with fast trains speeding by every few seconds. As soon as you get the chicken across one road or track, the chicken faces danger on the next road or track, making it very difficult to get safely to the other side.

While my daughter is getting pretty good at Crossy Road, there is one place she seems to get trapped every time. She can’t get past the trap of two trucks on a particular road even when she knows they are coming. Like this obstacle, there are traps in our lives that we find ourselves in, time and time again, even though we know they are there. I would venture to say that most women have heard Proverbs 31:30 multiple times. But, how many of them actually avoid the two traps listed in this verse?

The first trap is charm, which Solomon tells us is deceptive. Charm is defined as “the quality of giving delight,” and the Hebrew word for it is chen, meaning to find favor or acceptance in the eyes of another. This is the trap of needing approval of man. How often do we do things to be accepted or admired by others? God tells us we are to please him, rather than men (Galatians 1:10). And isn’t it easier to please our heavenly Father, instead of people who are not consistent (Numbers 23:19)?

The second trap is beauty, which Solomon tells us is fleeting. Of course, most of us know that our youthful features will change over time. But, even before that happens, we find we look better some days more than others. Who hasn’t ever had a bad hair day?

Just a few days ago, I decided that it was not a good hair or makeup day for me, but I was going to just smile – that’s the best accessory I could wear and probably the only thing anyone I saw would care about anyway.

I’m sad to say that I’ve been guilty of falling into the traps of charm and beauty. But, I am just now coming out of that and have decided that what is most important are the things I’ve used to dress my heart, rather than my outward appearance. In order to dress my heart beautifully, I must reject the lies that outward appearance and the approval of others are the most important things and instead place my trust in the God who offers me an unconditional love and acceptance that never changes.

It’s Here!

 

Kharis Publishing accepted my book proposal for Solomon Says last spring, and I’m so pleased to tell you that the study is now published!  I really appreciate all of you who have supported me in this endeavor and have been faithful followers of this blog, which was created from the study.

The new book can be purchased on Amazon or through Kharis Publishing. I plan to teach Solomon Says again and will announce some dates soon, so keep watch for that information on the blog or through my Amazon Author Page. 

As always, I love hearing from you when you have thoughts about ideas in my posts, so let me know what you think and how the Lord is speaking in your life!