Bible Verses and a Prayer about Words and the Power of the Tongue

  • Psalm 19:14 NASB
    Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    Be acceptable in Your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
  • Psalm 141:3 NIV
    Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
  • Proverbs 10:19 ESV
    When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
    but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
  • Proverbs 12:18 NIV
    The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
  • Proverbs 13:3 NASB
    The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
    The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
  • Proverbs 15:1 NASB
    A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    But a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • Proverbs 15:2 ESV
    The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
    but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
  • Proverbs 15:4 ESV
    A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
    but perverseness in it breaks the spirit
  • Proverbs 16:24 NIV
    Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
  • Proverbs 17:27 NASB
    He who restrains his words has knowledge,
    And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
  • Proverbs 18:21 NIV
    The tongue has the power of life and death,
    and those who love it will eat its fruit.
  • Proverbs 21:23 NASB
    He who guards his mouth and his tongue,
    Guards his soul from troubles.
  • Proverbs 25:11 NASB
    Like apples of gold in settings of silver
    Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
  • Proverbs 25:25 NIV
    Like cold water to a weary soul
    is good news from a distant land.
  • Proverbs 29:20 NASB
    Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
    There is more hope for a fool than for him.
  • Matthew 12:36 NASB
    But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.
  • Matthew 15:18 NASB
    But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.
  • Ephesians 4:29 NIV
    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • James 1:26 NLT
     If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
  • James 3:3-10 NASB
    Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come bothblessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

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Bible Verses on Loving Others

  • Matthew 5:43-44 NIV
     “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
  • Mark 12:29-31 NLT
    Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
  • John 13:34 NIV
    A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
  • John 15:12-13  NLT
    This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
  • Romans 13:8 NLT
    Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV
    If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV
    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
  • Ephesians 4:2 NLT
    Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
  • Ephesians 4:31-32
    “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
  • 1 John 3:18
    Dear children, let us not love with words or speech b1john4ut with actions and in truth.
  • 1 Peter 1:22 NLT
     

     You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

  • 1 John 4:7-8 NIV
    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
  • 1 John 4:11 NIV
    Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
  • 1 John 4:19-21 NIV
     We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Bible Verses to Pray for Your Marriage

MAY WE LOVE….

  • John 15:12-13 ESV
     “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
  • Colossians 3:14 ESV
    And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
    Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
  •  1 John 4:7-8 ESV
    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
  • 1 John 4:19 ESV
    We love because he first loved us.

MAY WE FORGIVE….

  • Proverbs 24:29 ESV
    Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
        I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
  • Ephesians 4:32 ESV
    Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
  • Colossians 3:12-14 ESV
     Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
  • 1 Peter 4:8 ESV
    Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

MAY WE HONOR ONE ANOTHER….

  • Romans 12:10 ESV
    Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
  • Hebrews 13:4 ESV
    Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

MAY WE WORK TOGETHER….

  • Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV
    And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
  • Philippians 2:2 ESV
    complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

MAY WE SHOW KINDNESS….

  • Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV
    Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

 MAY WE SPEAK WITH GRACE…

  • Proverbs 15:1 ESV
    A soft answer turns away wrath,
        but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • Ephesians 4:29  NIV
     Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

MAY WE SEEK GOD ABOVE ALL….

  • Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
        and do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge him,
        and he will make straight your paths.
  • Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
    For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a]and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
  • Matthew 6:33 ESV
    But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
  • Romans 5:2 TLB
    For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.

WHAT BIBLE VERSE(S) ARE YOU PRAYING FOR YOUR MARRIAGE?  JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION AND SHARE WITH US!!

Bible Verses on Giving and Helping Others

  • Proverbs 11:25 ESV
    Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
        and one who waters will himself be watered.
  • Proverbs 19:17 ESV
    Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
        and he will repay him for his deed.
  • Matthew 6:1-4 ESV

    Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

    “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

  • Matthew 25:35-40 ESV
    For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
  • Luke 6:38 ESV
    give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV
    Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:11 ESV
    You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
  • Philippians 2:4 ESV
    Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  • Hebrews 13:16 ESV
    Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
  • James 1:27 ESV
     Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
  • James 2:14-17 ESV
    What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
  • 1 John 3:17 ESV
    But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

Dandelions are out; Tulips are in

A confession.

Until we put our house up for sale last year, I can’t say that dandelions ever bothered me very much.

So they were weeds.   So others didn’t like them.   So what?

I barely noticed them.  When the grass got cut, the dandelions got chopped down, too, and that seemed like enough.

When I wanted someone to buy our house, though,  I suddenly felt motivated to keep  my yard weed-free.

That’s when the war started. and I’ve brought the battle from the old house to the new, only this time I refuse to give up any territory.

These dandelions have overrun yards all over my new neighborhood, but not my yard.  Not this time.

I  pop those dandelions out by the root every time I take a walk or get the mail or just  head out the door to  the minivan.

But while I’m warring against the dandelions, I’m also choosing to fight for something else.

The whole time I’m digging out weeds, I’m cultivating tulips, watching over them like a mom does a newborn baby.  I marvel at every single hint of growth. I point out the first sprouts of green to my kids, and I wait expectantly for the first blooms  to appear.

In my old house, I planted tulips nearly every fall because I love their vibrant colors. They didn’t grow, though.  In the 13 years we lived in that house, I probably only had tulips bloom two of those years.

They were eaten. That’s why.   Apparently tulip bulbs are a high-class delicacy to voles, who tunneled all through the yard and snacked on my plants through the winter.

I’m determined, though–determined to keep the dandelions out and determined to keep the tulips in.  So I clicked my way through Google searches to find some tulip- growing remedies.   Then I headed out to the garden with a bag of crushed oyster shells and containers of garlic powder and  chili powder.  I mixed that fragrant little concoction up and dumped  it into the holes before I dropped the tulip bulbs in the soil.

The garden smelled like garlic for at least a week.

Now,  it’s spring. The tulips are about to bloom and I finally see the results of all that effort.

I have fought against and I have fought for.

Maybe that’s what I need to know spiritually, too.  That battling against is fine and well and good, but it’s incomplete if we aren’t also cultivating what is beautiful and right and enduring in its place.

James wrote:

16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace (James 3:16-18 CSB). 

We dig out envy, pride, and evil.  We grow peace, gentleness, and mercy.

Paul told the Galatians:

 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy,outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar (Galatians 5:19-21 CSB). 

But that’s not the end.  It’s not enough to be rid of the flesh or pull out the sin; we need the Spirit to do a new work within us, and the fruit of the Spirit is:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23 CSB). 

I can deal with sin, take it seriously, talk about sin, focus on sin, try to conquer sin, determine not to sin, read about sin, listen to preachers preach about sin, recognize my sin, and constantly declare that I’m a sinner.

But I’m still missing out.  James moves past that.  Paul moves past that.

It’s fruitfulness they describe and it’s fruitfulness I really want.   I want more than a yard without dandelions.  I want the beauty of the tulips.

And that doesn’t happen if I’m focused on myself, my own efforts,  my own failures.   Fruitfulness requires abiding in Christ, lifting my eyes from my self to my Savior.

That’s when my life begins to bear fruit, His supernatural peace, not just the absence of worry, but a heart that loves peace and pursues peace with others.

That’s when He helps me to love even when it’s hard.  That’s when He grows gentleness, mercy, kindness, and goodness within me.   That’s when I have an abiding joy that isn’t determined by circumstances.   This is the Spirit’s work.

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5 NIV).

 

 

Bible Verses about Hospitality

  • Leviticus 19:34 ESV
    You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
  • Job 31:32 ESV
    (the sojourner has not lodged in the street;
        I have opened my doors to the traveler),
  • Isaiah 58:6-7 ESV
    “Is not this the fast that I choose:
        to loose the bonds of wickedness,
        to undo the straps of the yoke,
    to let the oppressed[a] go free,
        and to break every yoke?
    Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
        and bring the homeless poor into your house;
    when you see the naked, to cover him,
        and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
  • Matthew 10:42-44 ESV
    And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
  • Matthew 25:40 ESV
     And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
  • Luke 10:38 ESV
     Now as they went on their way, Jesus[a] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.
  • Luke 14:13 ESV
    But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind
  • Romans 12:13 ESV
    Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
  • Galatians 6:10 ESV
    So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
  • Titus 1:7-8 ESV
    For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.
  • Hebrews 13:2 ESV
    Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
  • 1 Peter 4:9 ESV
    Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
  • 3 John 1:5-8
    Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

Doing Small Things for the People Near to Us

colossians-3-8b

In the Sunday morning rush, we have eaten and dressed.  We have brushed teeth and brushed hair.  We have found missing shoes and sent children one by one into their room to collect their Bibles.

When they were younger, my kids needed help with every… little…thing in the morning routine. Now, at least, I am primarily keeper of the clock and pourer of the milk for those too little to do so without spilling.

Finally, with all the children fed and clothed, I retreat to my bedroom for my own prep time.   I’m brushing my own teeth while hunting in the closet for my other shoe and watching the clock out of the corner of my eye.

Time’s up.  We head out the door to load up the minivan.

That’s when I see the two freshly filled water bottles on the counter.

One is my husband’s.

The other is mine.

This is his Sunday morning gift to me.  Almost every week while I’m showering and dressing, my husband retrieves my near-empty plastic bottle from my nightstand and he fills it up with fresh water while he is filling up his own.

It’s the tiniest act of kindness, and yet it means a great deal.

This is a little self-sacrificial thoughtfulness, a gesture of remembering and of noticing my need, an offer of help without even asking.

I feel loved and cared for.

Yes, by this simple thing, the refilling of water, I am refreshed with love.

There are other acts of kindness, of course, and hopefully they go both ways.  Me serving him.  Him serving me.  Secretly filled gas tanks.  A milkshake after a long day.  Trash taken out.  Cards hidden.  Lunches made.

Love thrives on the simplest, most daily acts of consideration and thoughtfulness.  That’s because it’s far more natural to slip, slip, slip into forgetting, and selfishness, and taking for granted.

I wait until we arrive at church, and then I halt our dash into the brick building with four kids in tow for just a moment to say, “Thanks.  Thanks for filling my water bottle.”

Because kindness deserves noticing.  Kindness deserves gratitude.

In Acts 9, widows crowded around Peter to tell him of their sorrow.  Their dear friend, Tabitha (also known as Dorcas), had died, and they missed her.

Scripture says she was “full of good works and acts of charity”  (Acts 9:36 ESV).  The widows “stood beside him (Peter) weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them” (verse 39).

Maybe it seemed like such a small thing when she was alive:  A garment here, a tunic there.  Dorcas spent time sewing and then gave her gifts to the widows, the poorest around her.  She didn’t give millions of dollars.  She didn’t run a charity house for the destitute or organize a worldwide effort against poverty.

Tabitha did small things for the people near to her.  She served God in the way that she could.

Her kindness was her legacy.  It was the evidence the widows offered to Peter for why he should raise her from the dead—and that’s the miracle that happened that day.

Robert Morgan wrote:

The little things we do are bigger than the great things we do; and how wonderful to learn the importance of the sacred ordinary (All to Jesus).

I read this morning about a family’s wild jaunt of a day filled with random acts of kindness.  They carried flowers to nursing home residents and paid for strangers’ groceries and left dollars on the dollar store shelves.

They had the best time spreading kindness like a million tiny seeds all over their small town and then letting it grow and bloom into kindness in others.

What a glorious thing.

But I’m reminded today that random acts of kindness aren’t just for strangers or neighbors.  Too often we forget the “random acts of kindness” we can offer within our own families.

Maybe for some of us, bitterness, anger, and hurt over ingratitude make kindness feel like an impossible challenge, a chasm we just can’t cross.  But that is when the kindness is the hardest sacrifice we could offer.

This is the offering we give.  We take the time to notice a need.  We make an effort to reach outside of ourselves to help another.  We put aside our agenda in order to love people first and foremost.

Along the way, we rediscover how truly kind God is to us even when we ourselves didn’t deserve it:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-5 ESV).

The Kindness of Strangers

love-is-kind

By the time I made it to the checkout line at Wal-Mart that day, I was a bit frazzled.

The shopping with children while sticking to a budget and using coupons and planning meals for the week on the fly had done me in.

I ran the gauntlet, that candy-displaying aisle that also comes fully equipped with toy cameras, play cell phones, matchbox cars, and other wonderful overly expensive nothing toys that every child “must” have!

Finally, I was done.  Groceries in the cart.  Coupons handed over.  Total amount deducted from my checking account.

Freedom!!

We made it to the van.  My kids piled in.  I loaded every last grocery bag into the back and slammed the door shut.

Then I realized I had left my wallet inside.

Because that’s what tired, frazzled, totally stressed and generally scatterbrained women do.  We leave our personal identification and all access to our financial lives sitting around the Wal-Mart.

I re-opened the van door and started unbuckling my confused children so we could go back inside and hunt for the missing wallet when I heard him: The man who saved my day.

He ran over to me holding my wallet outstretched.  “The cashier let me run it out to you,” he explained.

In A Streetcar Named Desire, the character Blanche DuBois frequently says, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Don’t we all?  At some time or another, haven’t we all depended on the kindness of somebody, whether stranger or friend?  They’ve saved us from a rotten day and might as well wear a cape and some tights because it’s as good as being rescued by a superhero.

But, here’s the catch, showing kindness always involves at least a little inconvenience.

My kind stranger abandoned his own cart of groceries and delayed his day to run out to a parking lot and find the crazy woman who can’t keep track of her things.

Too often we don’t make the choice he did.  Instead, we choose convenience over service and comfort over love for our neighbor.

We’re busy. We’re tired. We have important ministry commitments that keep us from  ministering to an individual in need. We hope another will offer help.

And that’s how we can miss the point.

Just like the disciples did in Matthew 19:

“When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there”(Matthew 19:1-2).

They were accustomed to Jesus drawing a crowd so this was business as usual. Everywhere He went, a mob of searching, needy people followed.

It must have been thrilling to be a disciple of this Rabbi—to see His Spiritual power, His draw, to think perhaps He was the Messiah they had long waited for.

And He didn’t just attract a crowd of needy paupers or country-folk.  Oh no.  Where Jesus traveled, so did the powerful elite to examine and cross-examine this religious phenomenon.  So it was on this day “some Pharisees came to test him” (Matthew 19:3).

The disciples were the closest people on earth to a superstar with mass appeal and the attention of big-shots.

But then some parents did the unthinkable.

They “brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.  But the disciples rebuked them” (Matthew 19:13).

Jesus loved the little children.  That’s what we see, say and sing about this passage.  And yes, that’s there.

But there’s something else here, too.

It’s not just that He stops for children, but that He stops at all. 

To the disciples, these families and kids were time-wasters.  Jesus had crowds to attend to, miracles to perform, Pharisees to spar with.

If anyone in the world was too busy for the little, it was Jesus.

But Jesus took time for kindness.

He accepted a little inconvenience in order to show love to the small, undervalued and overlooked because “love is patient; love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Sometimes in that Good Samaritan story in Luke 10, we’re the priest and the Levite, so busy with important tasks maybe we’re too busy to show kindness to the people who lie along the road we’re traveling.

 

Could we choose to change?

Could we choose to turn aside?  To take the time? To value people over schedules and agendas?  To sacrifice for others?

Could we choose kindness?

After all, it hardly mattered if the Samaritan arrived late at his destination.  He had helped the hurting and that had far more significance.

The kindness was worth the inconvenience.  It always is.

 

Originally published 9/12/2011

Letting Go of the Agenda and Choosing to Love

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It happened in the middle of what I call, “The Great Cold of 2014.”

All four of my kids were sick, including my youngest who was still a baby at the time.

I let one of my daughters sleep in late to make up for a near-sleepless night thanks to the stuffy nose.

At about 5 a.m., this daughter had shone a flashlight in my face and tearfully announced that she hadn’t slept all night and she’d never get any sleep so she’d fall asleep at school and never make it to ballet…..and the world was just absolutely going to end!

I’m not the most compassionate nurse of a mom anyway.  Seeing as how that was about the bazillionth time a child had woken me up in that one night, I had to muster some grace for the end of this night shift. I had spent most of my night slathering on Vicks, refilling water bottles, rocking a baby and fetching more tissues.

So I went through the motions one more time:

Walk the child back to bed.

Vicks—rub, rub, rub.

Hand tissues.

Hand plastic bag for placing used tissues inside instead of dumping them on the floor next to your bed (please and thank you). 

Refill water bottle.

Speak truth: The world is not about to end. If you cry, you will feel worse.  You have not been awake all night; I have and I can assure you that you were asleep for some of it.

Place hand on child’s head, smooth back hair, reassure her that she does not have a fever, and pray for her to sleep.  Dear God, please let her sleep.

Make it back to the bed in time to fall asleep before the next child wakes up an hour later.

So, that morning, I woke her up late.  “Twenty minutes until you need to be outside waiting for the bus.”

Here’s breakfast.

Here are clothes.

Here are tissues.

Lunchbox in backpack.  Book in backpack.  Zip it up!

Brush your teeth and I’ll brush your hair while you do that.  Saves time.

But then I paused in the rushed rhythm of this morning blitz and looked at her in the mirror.  She was still crying and was a mess of red-faced blotchy miserableness.

I could push her out that door to meet the bus.

I’m a workaholic.  I’d said it to her already that morning, “No fever.  No throwing up.  This is just a cold. You’ll feel better in an hour.”

But something in me stopped the stampede of my pushy, workaholic, drill sergeant self all over the tender heart of this beloved girl.

I heard it: this strong voice telling me to just stop right there and Love her.

The day before, I had read this in Pathway to Purpose:

“It is a cure for an affliction may of us have, which my friend calls destination disease. That great phrase describes being more concerned about getting to our destination than in finding delight on the journey. Learning to love causes us to linger in the company of others and find enjoyment and companionship along the way” (Katie Brazelton).

Learning to love isn’t just a begrudging necessity of this Christian life, a small blip in the journey on to bigger and better purposes and plans.

Loving others is Christ’s command.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12 NIV).

Loving others is what we’re here to do.  It is the great purpose.  It is the great design.

Am I too busy pushing my agenda in this moment to show God’s love and grace?

Katie Brazelton writes this in Pathway to Purpose also:

“Love, then, is spending ourselves, investing ourselves, in the daily and eternal well-being of others” (pp. 64-65).

I could have pushed that daughter out the door to the school bus and she’d have survived the day.

But that wouldn’t be loving her, not at that time and not in that way. This child not a hookie-playing, school-skipping, excuse-making kid. She’s a good girl and a diligent student who was sick, got too little sleep, and felt rotten.

I love her and I wanted her to know that I love her.pathwaytopurpose

So, I sent two kids out to the bus instead of three.

I wrote a note to her teacher.  I made her a cup of tea.

An hour later, she felt a bit better.  She still had a cold, but she said she was ready to go to school.

I drove her in, and she said it to me twice on the way, “Thanks for taking care of me, mom.”

Don’t we all need love like that at times, the kind that gives space and grace, the kind that chooses tenderness over toughness?

Originally published September 12, 2014

 

Our Jesus Style

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My son screams in the morning when I take off his fire truck pajamas and put on his dinosaur shirt.

Does he want the shirt with the train?  The dump truck and excavator?  The monkey?

No. What he really wants is to stay in his fire truck pajamas all day.

At the end of the day, though, long after I’ve wrestled him into actual clothes, he screams again when I try to take off his dinosaur shirt and put back on the fire truck pajamas.

Now he wants to wear the dinosaur to bed.

Toddler wardrobe wars.

I’ve done this four times with four kids.

I had the daughter who went several years of her life only wearing dresses and skirts and never ever wearing pants.

I had the daughter who only wore pink and purple and didn’t like any other colors, but who also still refuses to wear dresses or skirts.

Then there was my compliant child.  She would say, ‘no’ and take off running when I held up a shirt she didn’t like.

When I found this half-naked toddler in the house, the shirt would be completely missing and she’d appear innocent.

I searched her room, the dresser, every hiding place without result.  No shirt.

Then I went to throw something away and saw it peeking out of the trash can.

She skipped the tantrums and went right for putting clothes she didn’t like in the garbage.

I wonder what would happen if we were as careful about the attitudes, beliefs, and heart conditions we clothe ourselves in every morning.  Maybe we should be that picky.

It’s a favorite metaphor of the apostles, reminding us to peel off the old clothes of flesh, lust and sin and to purposefully put on a brand new outfit everyday.

We are to clothe ourselves in Christ.

Paul described it this way:

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator . . .

 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:8-14, NIV).

In other words, take it off, take it all off: The anger, the bad attitude and grumpiness, the bad language, the lies.  All of those pesky remnants of our pre-salvation self have to go.

We stare at the closet and choose the new clothes we’ll wear each day with great care, pulling on clothes of compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and most of all love.

Add in to that mix the favorite outfit of Peter:

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (1 Peter 5:5)

The bottom line, for Paul is that we should, “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14, NIV).

Unfortunately, our old fleshly selves have a way of sneaking their way back into our closets.

We think we’ve restyled only to snap in anger during the morning rush.

How did that discarded sin find it’s way into our wardrobe again?  More importantly, how did we end up wearing it today?

We aren’t picky enough about the spiritual clothes we don every day.  When we’re not paying attention and when we’re not being careful, we find we’re  wearing the dirty rags of old habits and familiar sins.

We have to make the conscious choice, the prayerful choice, the one where we ask Christ to robe us in His righteousness.

We can choose to wear Jesus each day.

Reject the clothing of the old self and instead pull on love and step into compassion.  Spice things up with a scarf of kindness and a jacket of forgiveness.  Wear our own favorite shoes of humility and gentleness.

It’s our Jesus style, it’s Christ shining through us, making HIs presence in our lives unmistakable.

Originally posted November 8, 2011