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Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 4:32’

It’s amazing how some little word or act of kindness can lift our spirits and change our day, isn’t it? Perhaps you may feel you have been lifting others up quite a lot instead lately, in this challenging, lockdown time. Yet we all need to receive as well and experience those special moments when our hearts feel a little lighter.

Recently, I dashed to our local fruit shop to buy some ingredients for our dinner, including parsley. But as I paid for my items, I fell into complaining mode.

‘I can’t believe I’m having to buy parsley,’ I told the girl at the checkout. ‘Right now, our daughter has heaps of it growing in her garden on the other side of Sydney, but of course that’s further than five kilometres away. And her parsley’s so lovely and flavoursome too.’

The girl smiled sympathetically, then looked thoughtful, as she adjusted her pretty, pink headscarf.

‘Um … would you like some fresh parsley instead?’

At first, I didn’t understand what she was saying. Her accent was quite strong—and I was puzzled too, as I had hoped the parsley I had bought was fresh. But then she went on to explain further.

‘I dropped into my dad’s place this morning to give him some sweets I know he really loves and he wanted me to come in, but I said I wasn’t allowed. So he said, “Well, at least take some of the parsley from my garden with you!” We use it to make tabouli, but would you like some?’

At that point, she picked up the parsley I had bought, put it back in its display stand rather disdainfully and hurried to the rear of the shop. After a short while, she re-emerged and handed over a huge clump of her father’s beautiful, fresh parsley to me.

‘It’s good—and it’s organic too!’ she told me proudly.

I know it was only a bunch of parsley, but I was so touched.

‘Wow, that’s wonderful!’ I told her. ‘Thank you so much—and please thank your father too. God bless you!’

She looked a little stunned at my final words, but, somehow, they had just burst out of me. I truly did want God to bless her. She had done something so kind and unexpected for me—and I felt her actions had pleased God’s heart too.

That evening, as I chopped my lovely, fresh parsley for our dinner, I realised this girl’s actions had not only blessed me but taught me something too. We all need those kind words and actions right now, even more than usual—and I needed to remember this more often. I need to be part of the solution, rather than add to the problem by complaining and feeling hard done by. Besides, surely this is what God wants us all to do?

Be kind and compassionate to one another … Ephesians 4:32

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25

Little things are so important, aren’t they? Especially those kind words and deeds that reflect God’s own kindness and build us all up.

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They can slide off our lips before we know it, can’t they? Perhaps they are spoken in a flash of anger or irritation. Or perhaps they slip out in a thoughtless moment when our minds are elsewhere. Whatever the case, those reckless words we say can leave their mark for a very long time—as can those others have said to us.

Recently, I listened and watched, heart in mouth, as someone made a remark to another that was meant to be kind. Unfortunately, they had forgotten how much the other person hated such comments. A moment later, I watched the facial expressions of both parties change. One looked horrified and remorseful, as if they would give anything to take their words back, while the other looked more than a little exasperated and even angry. Immediately, I felt sorry for them both. I tried my best to smooth things over and change the topic of conversation, but was only partly successful. Those words had been said—the damage had been done.

Sometimes, however, we may speak to wound on purpose. I still remember clearly an occasion years ago when I spoke rashly in anger, unconcerned at how hurtful my words might be to the person they were aimed at. In that instant, all I wanted to do was lash out, determined to defend myself and get my point across. Later, I regretted it, although my opinion on the matter under discussion did not change. I apologised—and so did the other person. But ground was lost in the process. And, sadly, there was little opportunity afterwards for that relationship to be restored and for trust to be established again.

No wonder then that the following words resonated with me when I read them last week:

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

I long for the words that roll off my tongue to bring healing rather than piercing pain to others, don’t you? Of course, at times, we need to speak firmly and with passion, to stand up for what is right and not let things slide because we lack the courage to confront. In those instances, it will hopefully be righteous anger and the desire for God’s justice to rule that motivate us to speak out. But at all times, our end goal needs to be restoration and healing—for others and for ourselves.

Then further on in the same chapter, I came across the following:

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25

We are often unaware what others are going through, aren’t we, or what is driving them to act the way they do? At times we can see anxiety written on a person’s face or obvious in how they speak and act. Yet many of us are adept at burying such emotions well below the surface where others will not notice. How important it is then to endeavour to speak kindly, because those few words from us can lighten another’s load in ways we might never know or could ever imagine.

Be kind and compassionate to one another … Ephesians 4:32

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4

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Right now, I am surrounded by a sea of words. I’m swimming in them – everywhere I look! Even if I close my eyes, they are there, bobbing around and running into one another. You see, I’m deep in editing territory. Somehow I have acquired not one but two comprehensive non-fiction works by other authors to edit – and soon my own non-fiction work will return to me from my manuscript readers/editors, no doubt with many a red mark on it. On top of that, I have just finished critiquing the first fifty pages of three other manuscripts for a writing intensive day coming up.

Now I absolutely love writing. But I have to say I also enjoy editing – even editing my own work. There is nothing like throwing out by the bucket load the very words one has laboured over for hours. When I began my writing journey around eight years ago, I was horrified at the slightest suggestion I might need to dispense with some of those precious words I had so lovingly crafted. Now, six novels and a non-fiction work down the track, I find I don’t think twice about it – well, not usually, anyway. I’ve come to realise, you see, that if I created them all in the first place, I can probably do it again, with a bit of effort.

But what about editing others’ work? Now that’s quite a different matter. I tread very carefully indeed in this territory for several reasons. Firstly, I feel honoured when other authors choose make themselves vulnerable and trust me with their ‘baby’. I value that and want to respect the faith they have shown in me.

Secondly, I tread carefully because I want to appreciate who these authors are and what has gone on in their heads as they have crafted their novel or non-fiction work. I don’t want to come blundering in, trampling their ideas underfoot and failing to appreciate where they’re coming from and what has motivated them to write. They are children of God just as much as I am, with gifts to share with this world – and my task is essentially to help them use these gifts to the best of their ability.

Finally, I tread very carefully because I can so easily make snap decisions about the writing style of others – or even the topic they have chosen to write about – simply because it is not what or how I would write. I need to be impartial and not let my own likes and dislikes get in the way. After all, readers have widely differing tastes in books and in writing styles – no author can please everyone.

So I try to move forward with grace through my sea of words, treating other authors as God would treat them. Yes, I need to tell them the truth about their writing as I see it, which may be hard to hear at times – but I need to do it in love, and with kindness and compassion, as Paul urges us to do in Ephesians 4:15 and 32. I am only one voice. And I don’t have all the answers – I need to become a better author myself. But I believe they can too and I want to give of my best so they can give of their best.

And that’s one of the greatest privileges around, I believe.

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