Proverbs 27: 5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Most generally, the folks I know like to fix things. If somethings broke, just fix it! Right? Yes…to an extent. Sometimes we try too hard to fix something that will take more than simple remedial work. For instance, say you have a good friend who struggles with a problem that they’re ashamed to admit to someone else. Maybe they came to you. First and foremost you should feel honored. But, at the same time you should feel humbled. You’ve been given a great responsibility to help someone through a difficult time. What steps should you take? What advice should you give? First, make sure that the person who is talking to you is actually soliciting advice. He or she may just want you to listen and be a good friend, seeking instead understanding, empathy, and compassion. Don't assume that everyone wants advice. You may have some insight into the problem(s), but you really need to listen attentively to a person first for a very long time to understand the situation. If, and only if, your friend actually ASKS for advice should you then furnish it. Make sure you’re willing to listen. Every situation is unique, so never assume you know all you need to know about a problem. Listen carefully to the person who wants advice, and learn as much as possible about this situation. If you need clarification, ask questions. Being an active listener will not only help you give good advice, it will also increase the chances that the person will take your advice. Secondly, put yourself in that person’s shoes. Try to imagine yourself in the other person's situation. If you've been in a similar situation, think about what you learned, but don't rely solely on your experiences to give advice--imagine that you are giving yourself advice for the unique circumstances that the other person is facing. While you're at it, think about the consequences of not taking your advice. If there's no significant difference between the results of those two scenarios, your advice might not be bad, but it's not useful either. The same thing is true if the action you advise is impossible. Sometimes when we wish to help another person we give advice so as to move them forward. Make sure the advice you give brings them closer to Christ Jesus. It’s possible they need to reverse their actions so as to see how God can use them for His glory later on.
Have a blessed day, and remember the One who gave it to you! Kevin
Col 3:12-15 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” One would think this particular subject would be the most simple to incorporate…just love each other. Show genuine concern for someone other than yourself. Make sure you look out for the wellbeing of those around you. And, yet sometimes it appears to be the most difficult. At times it becomes increasingly allusive. Our society grows more and more distant from each other. Husbands and wives become disinterested with each other. Siblings grow apart; communities remain aloof one from another. The result of all this alienation makes Paul’s admonition to the folks in Colossae very difficult to emulate! Have we stopped recently to consider why human beings are so disconnected these days? In some areas of the world if you were to speak to another person, they might look at you as if you were just beamed down from another planet! I’ve received looks from others after trying to be cordial that made me ask myself why I even bothered in the first place! But, just because the world doesn’t know the concept of putting on tender mercies toward others, doesn’t mean God’s people shouldn’t know! Notice Paul addresses this admonition to God’s ELECT. Responsibility to put on tender mercies doesn’t belong to the world. It belongs to God’s people! So, the next time you’re cordial to someone and they snub you in return, don’t return their scoff. Pray for them. Pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you. (Matt. 7: 12; Matt. 5: 43-48).
Have a blessed day and remember the One who gave it to you! Kevin
CLASSIFIED ERRORS, from a small-town daily: (Monday) FOR SALE - R. D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Phone 555-0707 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him cheap.
(Tuesday) NOTICE - We regret having erred in R. D. Jones’ ad yesterday. It should have read: One sewing machine for sale. Cheap: 555-0707 and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him after 7 p.m.
(Wednesday) NOTICE - R. D. Jones has informed us that he has received several annoying telephone calls because of the error we made in his classified ad yesterday. His ad stands corrected as follows: FOR SALE - R. D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Cheap. Phone 555-0707 and ask Mrs. Kelly who loves with him.
(Thursday) NOTICE - I, R. D. Jones, have NO sewing machine for sale. I SMASHED IT. Don't call 555-0707, as the telephone has been disconnected. I have NOT been carrying on with Mrs. Kelly. Until yesterday she was my housekeeper, but she quit."
An elementary teacher asked her students to define the word ‘frugal’. After many a puzzled stare, the teacher gave them a hint by saying, “To be frugal means to save.” Now, define the word ‘frugal’ by putting it into story. Mary Jane immediately raised her hand. “Once upon a time there was a valiant prince who happened to be riding on his white horse. In the distance, he heard a damsel in distress. The damsel was locked inside a castle. She repeatedly cried, “Frugal me, Frugal me!”
Again, that’s not quite right, but it’s the thought that counts, right? We can easily become confused, can’t we? Without even meaning to, we can confuse laziness with serenity, meekness with weakness or contentment with being melancholy. How about confusing a frugal person with one who’s cheap? And, if we use the word ‘cheap’ could we not be defining a concept of how something was built? There’s a definite difference between ‘cheap’ and frugal. God calls us to be frugal. Everything we have comes from Him. He has blessed us in innumerable ways. Live your life in such a way as to be a blessing to those around you. Live in such a way as to honor God even with your finances!
Have blessed day and remember the One who gave it you!
Kevin Lough is the minister at the Whitehall Church of Christ in Fairmont WV.