The world is filled with attitudes of selfishness, impatience and rudeness, so when a woman displays the godly attribute of kindness, it is a striking contrast. This week’s podcast episode will answer what, why, where and how of kindness in a believer’s life. Oh, and listen to see if you would pass “the kindness quiz.”Continue reading “Show a Little Kindness”
This Changes Everything
I don’t know if your mother had a saying that you remember, but my mom used to tell me and my sisters to “Act pretty.” It has nothing to do with outward appearance, She was telling us to be kind. We all have to be reminded of that…even in our adult years!
Paul tells us in Titus 2, Older women are to teach what is good, and to train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, and kind.
Why does he have to remind us of this? Because it’s so easy for us to DO all the things we should be doing, but with the wrong attitude. We can do the laundry, cook a meal and make the house spotless, but be huffing and puffing a bad attitude while doing so. (I’m So guilty!)
In her book, Adorned, Nancy paints the picture of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. She reminds us that we are sometimes “distracted with much serving, worried and bothered about so many things.” We become stretched thin and stirred up, bothered and brittle.
On this occasion, Jesus and his followers gathered at the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus. There could’ve been two or three dozen people! Martha, with her take-charge temperament, moved into hostess mode for this impromptu gathering.
I imagine that she is excited to see Jesus and others there in her home, thankful for the joy of hosting her friend here where she lived with her sister Mary and brother, Lazarus. Martha began to clean and cook and make sure everyone was properly served and comfortable while Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him teach. Can you just imagine the thoughts that were running through Martha’s mind when she spots her sister sitting while she’s working?
Nancy reminds us that her thoughts included popular sins we all deal with:
Self-centeredness – Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to to help me. Notice the words pointing to herself.
Insensitivity – People had gathered around to listen to Jesus teach. But that didn’t keep Martha from barging in, interrupting Him, disturbing everyone. She was more concerned with how she was being inconvenienced.
Accusation – Asking if someone would give her a hand would have been an understandable request. But her words were accusatory – both towards Jesus and Mary.
Resentment – Can you just hear her in the kitchen loudly and purposefully banging the pans around in her disgust? Her inner martyr had likely been muttering under her breath for a while now. What tone does she use? Is she whiney, loud and unkind? Probably so.
Serving was no longer her joy and privilege – it was a burden.
It’s so easy to get to this place where Martha is. It’s easy to feel that we have a heavier load and then to feel resentment towards the ones we are serving. But when we feel this way, we must stop and ask ourselves the question we have been pondering in this passage – Is my thinking sophron right now? Am I thinking sound, biblical thoughts? Realizing that we are serving and doing what we are doing for the Lord can bring our thoughts back to solid ground.Our thinking will change our attitude and our attitude will show in our changed actions. Out will flow acts of kindness rather than resentment.
After we’ve discussed subjects that are weighty like sophron thinking and being sober and reverent, isn’t it a little trite to end by talking about being kind? Hardly. Why? Because women set the tone of the home. We’ve heard the saying, If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. There is much truth to that!
Kindness begins at home! Our family should get the first of our efforts and energies. The baked bread, the home cooked meal, the kind gestures that we fuss over for our guests. Let it be done FIRST for our family.
We must remember that we first learned kindness from our Savior.
Titus 3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
4 But after the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, He saved us not by works of righteousness which we had done, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost,
Kindness is at the end of the list of traits in Titus 2. It’s a fitting ending, reminding us that all that comes before it must be done wrapped in the beauty of kindness, the type Jesus has towards us every day. Having a kind attitude truly does change the atmosphere. Even if you have to do something hard, like rebuke a child, entertain guests when you feel ill prepared, or have a conversation on the phone with a needy person, if we ask the Lord to give us His kindness, the situation will be far more pleasant for our own heart, as well as the one we are encountering!
Look back over the last couple of days and ask the Lord if your attitude has portrayed kindness or resentment. The blessing is that even if we’re convicted of wrong motives, the kindness of our Savior forgives us when we confess!
Refresh your attitude of service to one of kindness.
You Did It For My Child…You Did It For Me
During a recent text message with my daughter Whitney, she shared with me about the blessing her small group leaders are to her and her husband. She said to me,
“They invited us over for dinner Friday night and we had a really great time!
I replied by saying,
I like these people!
That this dear couple would invest in the lives of my family means so much! Because they extended that kindness to Paul and Whitney, it was like they had done it for me! If you’re a parent, you understand that when someone reaches out in kindness to your child in a special way, it’s as though they were doing it directly to you, because it touches your heart.
Let’s put that thought on a spiritual plane – when you and I serve our Savior by living out the Christian life in practical ways, God says it’s as though we have done it to Him.
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
That could include:
- Sharing a meal with others in your home
- Spending time mentoring a younger woman
- Opening God’s Word to encourage and teach
- Dong a kind deed like serving the elderly, visiting the sick, or writing a card, providing for the poor.
These deeds don’t save us, but they show the world that we belong to God. When we do any of these kinds of things in the name of Christ, God says it’s as though we are doing it directly for Him!
So, who will you reach out to today or this week? Ask God to show you who and how and then do it in Jesus’ name. His Father’s heart will be touched by your actions.
What action has someone extended to your child that meant much to you?
What action could you do that will touch the heart of God?
Talking To Your Spouse with Grace
The phone rang and she answered it. The change in her tone was blatantly obvious to everyone in the room. This wife went from bubbly/friendly to irritated/annoyed. “Who was on the other end of the phone?” we wondered. Then she said his name and we learned that it was her husband.
This scenario happened in the public setting of a business. My heart sank when I realized that when this lady heard her husband’s voice, instead of being glad to hear from him, she was irritated. His call interrupted her. His questions annoyed her. And his needs overwhelmed her. She was only too happy to hang up and move on with the people around her and the business at hand.
But I cannot point a finger at her because the rest of my hand is pointing back at me. It’s easy to get a call from Dale and answer casually instead of enthusiastically. Do you ever get caught up in the day-to-day routine as I do and forget the special bond you share with your spouse? Consider the difference between answering the phone with,
“Yeah, whatcha’ need?”
Hi Sweetheart! I’m glad to hear from you!
What about when he asks you a question and you answer him for the second or third time? Does each answer get louder and more aggravated? Remember how you loved his name when you were dating? Do you say it with as much tenderness now?
Last week my brother-in-law was working his job inspecting roofs, as he has done for many years now. The early morning dew was still on the back half of the house, making the surface slippery. His work would be quick and he planned to climb down in just a minute, but just as that thought was flying through his mind, his foot slipped and he could feel himself falling. He grabbed the gutter of the house, helping to break his fall, but only a little. He was taken by ambulance to the Medical Center in the area where he was treated in the Emergency Room for his many broken bones. Praise the Lord for sparing his life!
As my sister and I walked the hospital halls together, we discussed the abruptness of any calamity. No one plans for it. No one puts, “Visit husband in trauma unit” in their planner, but life as we know it can be changed in a moment. We all know that, but we move on each day as though we are ignorant of that truth, and we blurt out unkind phrases and words like an umpire at a ballgame.
Remember the woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post? The one who changed her disposition when her husband called? Sadly, I learned the news of her husband’s death and I wondered if she ever wished she could talk to him again, with a completely different frame of mind? Did she ever wish he would interrupt her busy day by calling her?
If you knew that this was your last day with our spouse, would you use a different tone when we answered his call? Would you use kinder words when responding to his questions? Would your repeated answer be more patient? Even if we knew we had 50 more years together, wouldn’t we want our relationship to epitomize tenderness, kindness and sacrificial love? These are all words of grace – what we receive from the Lord every day. It’s what might not be deserved, but we give it, because that is how we are loved and spoken to by our Savior.
I know I need to make some changes in order to fill my husband’s ears with words of grace. How about you? Excuse me while I answer my phone…
Hi Sweetheart! I’m glad to hear from you!
If we asked others what they hear when we speak to our spouse, what would they say? What would our husband say? It’s all about grace.
In-Laws and Out-Laws – Part 1
Someone has said…
Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning handsprings or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.
A huge part of the difficulty that can come to a marriage is dealing with the In-laws. You see, when a girl says, “I do,” to a man she loves, she is also saying “I do” to receiving his family. She takes them on as her own family, and of course, he takes hers as well. But that isn’t always the easiest job in the world. There are so many variables as to why that’s the case, but I’d like to address what to do in order to make those relationships better.
I’ve been both a daughter-in-law and am now a mother-in-law, so I can speak a little to the female side of these relationships. Tomorrow I’m going to speak to the mothers-in-law. But we’ll look today at being a daughter-in-law that would honor the Lord and also be a blessing to the other side of her family.
- Give your in-law’s names – When I was newly married, I had a sweet father-in-law who oddly enough had been (and still was) my boss at the school where I taught. He was also my pastor. Now all of the sudden, we were related! That was a strange transition to make! My mom gave me good advice before my wedding. She said, “Start calling your in-law’s by the name you choose right after you’re married. It will sound like it’s bouncing off the walls when you first say it, but keep on saying it. It will get easier.”
My husband and I had decided to call one another’s parents as we do our own, Mom and Dad. When you have parents of your own that you treasure and love, it’s hard to throw that title to someone else, but these people were parents to the man I’d given my life to! Could I not “adopt” them as my second set of parents? So, after the honeymoon, I needed my mother-in-law’s attention and I had no choice but to say it – “Mom…” It was just like my own mother had warned me. It seemed like I had shouted it into a megaphone! But I kept on saying it until it became as natural saying my own name.
It can be so difficult to give your in-law’s a name that instead, you refer to them as only pronouns. Love them enough to give them a name – Mom and Dad, Bob and RuthAnn, Mom C., something! It’s so much kinder than “her” or “him!”
- Give your in-law’s the benefit of the doubt. If you’re questioning their actions, their absence, or their words to you or your husband, just step back and don’t assume anything but the best. Instead of asking, Why does your mother only call you and ask about the holidays? Don’t I count? Assume that he is the one who could answer her questions. Then you make an attempt at saying, Hey, I hear you’re wondering about us coming for Thanksgiving. We’re looking forward to it. Do you have a minute that we could talk about what you’d like me to bring?
It’s a tendency to get offended, but sometimes if we build a bridge for communication, it will make things easier the next time.
- Give your in-law’s time to be with their son without you. Don’t feel offended that your MIL would love to spend time with your husband. Instead, help that to happen. When my in-law’s came to visit us for Christmas, I always tried to encourage my husband to take his mom out for breakfast one morning. They could talk and spend time together, and I know she appreciated having her son to himself for a couple hours.
(Tomorrow we’ll discuss what happens if this need becomes obsessive for her!)
- Give your in-law’s time with your whole family. Holidays can be downright dreadful if there are not wise decisions about where and when the holidays will be spent. Going back and forth to both families is exhausting and sharing that holiday with only one side of the family can be hurtful.
Our solution to that is to spend Thanksgiving with one side and Christmas the other. Then the next year do the opposite. Birthday’s, Mother’s Day and so on can be handled in the same way – back and forth.
- Give your in-law’s the same kindness you’d give your own parents. Most husbands aren’t good at remembering to buy gifts and cards for their mom once they’re married. Why not consider it your duty as his wife to remind your fella to buy a card for his mom for Mother’s Day? Or you pick out the card and gift for her birthday and let him sign it for both of you. She’ll recognize his handwriting and will be elated that he remembered. Only you will be the wiser! The point is, be sure to do the same kind acts for your in-law’s as you do for your family.
In the book of Ruth, we hear Naomi saying to her two daughters-in-law:
Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
Both Ruth and Orpah had shown kindness to their mother-in-law and she was fully aware of it!
Could that be said of you and me? Take the high road and show kindness. Be first to do it. Do it even if it’s not returned. What to do?
- Call them.
- Send a text to check on them.
- Send them pictures of your children.
- Send them pictures of your husband!
- Pray for them.
- Love them with words
- Love them with your time.
- Love them with actions. A card, a gift, a loving gift of your time.
It would be hard not to love a daughter-in-law who responds with those kind of actions. I didn’t always do that. I struggled, especially in our early years. But I thank the Lord for the good relationship he gave me with my in-law’s over time. Ladies, sometimes the hardship in the in-law relations can make them look like outlaw’s, but if we make the effort, we could very easily turn things around for God’s glory and we daughters-in-law could be remembered as favorably as Ruth was.
What’s your best tip for responding as a daughter-in-law? Who has a great daughter-in-law that you’d like to brag about?
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for tips for the Mothers-in-law!