Comment from Ken: All of us are God’s children. The passage of scripture for our walk applies to adults as well as children.
Scripture: Matthew 8: 33 – 37
33Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” 34But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
It has almost felt like spring this day, Monday, of our New Year. The temperature actually reached thirty-two. It is amazing when temperatures have been as cold as they have been that a temperature near or just under freezing seems warm. If you don’t mind, however, we will remain by the stove in my study rather than go out walking on the still snow and ice covered roads.
Yesterday we completed our Christmas celebrations with Ann and her family. How our granddaughter Maddie is growing. She is going to be very tall for she has grown three inches this year. She loves basketball so her height will serve her to good advantage.
As our Christmas tree is still green, we have left it up for now. Both Dale and I hate to say goodbye to Christmas, and as for me, Christmas remains in my thoughts almost every day. Each year, I promise I will work on Christmas projects all year long so that I will be prepared for Christmas before December. If I am going to give gifts from my shop, I need to begin right now!
This morning after I left Molly at day care, I brought some clothing to the cleaners. As I went into the Laundromat, I asked the woman who always takes my cleaning how she was. Although the sun was shining and the day was warmer than it has been, she answered me that she was cranky. I replied that I could be cranky too in the morning. When she asked how many shirts I had in the laundry bag, as usual, I told her I did not know. She looked at me, and I explained I just put my shirts in the bag each day so I had to count them as we took them out. She soon smiled when I told her Dale always sneaked a few items in that bag.
As we talked, she told me she was cranky because someone had left her an unpleasant note. That is always a difficult way to greet a new day after a day or weekend off. I told her a story about my minister friend that happened when I was in Concord over forty years ago. We were close friends, and he had received a note that had greatly upset him. Someone in the church he was serving had written a letter expressing some unflattering things about him. To comfort him, I told him he was lucky that he had only received one such letter for over my ministry I had received quite a few. There was one woman who was always calling me or appearing in the church parking lot very distressed. I believe I was a very patient pastor and was determined to have this woman be my friend. Then I went on vacation. At the time, I was building a home on Greenhill in Barrington, New Hampshire. While I was there with my family, the very unhappy member of my church called the church office and asked for my home number. At the time, I did not have a telephone in our home, and of course, this was well before cell phones. My secretary did have an emergency number of a neighbor where I could be reached if absolutely necessary. My dear secretary did not believe I should be disturbed by an unnecessary call. She said she could not reach me.
Oh my! In the mail the a day or so later, there was a letter telling me that the only way I would ever be close to God was to be on a hill. To tell you the truth that note did not greatly upset me, but it did make me all the more determined that when I left that church, I would do so with this woman as my friend. When I did leave that church, she was sad and let me know so. We remained friends until she passed away.
Now I told this story to my friend hoping it would comfort him, but he was still distraught. Then I reminded him of how Jesus was treated. Here was the kindest, best, thoughtful, caring man – the very son of God. When I reminded my friend what they did to Him, he looked me in the eye and said that he remembered; he also commented that they were not going to do that to him. We smiled, and I think he felt better. I often wondered if that woman who was unkind ever knew he eventually did leave the ministry. Why are we sometimes cruel to each other? Why don’t people think first, before when they say or write mean things that can hurt the soul of a person who is seeking to live a good life?
We have become a society that makes bitter, unkind comments on the Internet and express mean remarks when we are face to face with other human beings. I do not think I am incorrect to say we were raised in a very different way when I was a child. We were punished if we said things that were unkind about each other or hurt another person’s feelings. We were often told if we could not say something kind then say nothing at all.
How ashamed I am to admit that when I was a small boy with my family in the car, I was made to get out of the car and walk the rest of the way home because the windows of the car were open and I laughed out loud at a teacher we passed who had a funny walk. I do not think the teacher heard the laughter, but I shall never forget being told to get of the car and to walk home. A good lesson, wasn’t it? It is a lesson many of us still need to learn before we say or write something unkind and hurt another person.
How much I love Jesus Christ and His example. And I know that you do as well. How must He have felt as he saw the religious, upstanding men speaking evil words about Him as He did good deeds among the poor and the suffering? How must He have felt when His mother and family came to stop Him from preaching because people were claiming He was out of His mind? If His own family questioned His sanity and worried about Him, how would you and I have acted? Would we have said unkind words about Jesus? Would we have cast a darkness over His day with our disparaging comments? I pray we would not have.
Yet, Jesus speaks of His little ones and those He loves. When we say an unkind word about one of His children, does our Lord not have a great sadness in His heart? Perhaps we need to remember when we are hurting someone else with our words that we are saying those unkind things about someone Jesus loves.
We would never have spoken evil of Him – not me, not you. No, we would not have spoken evil of Him. Certainly not! Oh, I pray those statements are correct.
Prayer: O Lord, Forgive our unkind, sometimes thoughtless words. Help us to remember when we speak ill or are unkind to one of Your children that we are speaking those words to You. Bless us and forgive us. May our love of You and kindness rule our daily lives through our loving, dying, living Savior. Amen.