Pretty Side Up

Most of my tablecloths have a pretty side and a not so pretty side.  If I sit down to eat with my family and notice that I put the tablecloth on wrong side up, I think, “Oops.  Oh well, it’s just my family.”  I’m a lot more careful when we have guests.  I make sure they only see the pretty side.  Shame on me.  Of course I’m not really talking about tablecloths.  I’m talking about those times when I act prettier for others than I do for my own dear family.

Shame on me when I snap in irritation at my husband or children.  I would never dream of snapping at a neighbor or church member lest they think I’m unpleasant to be around.

Shame on me when I make my impatience obvious to my family but with everyone else I cover it up with a smile.

Shame on me when I use harsher words with my family to make a point but choose my words more carefully and tenderly with friends.

Shame on me when I roll my eyes when my husband asks me to do something for him but act all eager to please when others do the same.

My family deserves my prettier side.  I do have one and I know how to display it when I think it matters.  Why would I rob the ones who matter most of sweetness but go to great lengths to brighten up for everyone else?   I prove my love for my family when I care enough to give them the best side of me.

Prayer for Today:  May I daily cherish my family, Lord, by showing them the same grace and honor I extend to others.

 

Live Brightly

At Higher Ground this year, Mandy Thomas started our day off one morning with a beautiful devotional thought.  Based on Matthew 5:16, she said our goal is to “live brightly.”  This phrase has stuck in my mind ever since.  I am thankful for the many in my life who shine consistently.

Some shine by smiling.  Such a simple thing, really, but what an impact!  I have to remind myself that my face doesn’t naturally fall into a joyful expression.  Instead, it looks rather annoyed, or “long,” as someone recently pointed out.  But I know many who are smiling every time I see them.  It lifts me up, and makes me want to smile in return.  I imagine all who come in contact with them are blessed, simply because the joy in their heart is reflected on their face (Phil. 4:4; Psa. 16:9; Prov. 10:28).   I can smile more.  Surely I can do that.

Some shine by having a positive outlook.   Their life isn’t easy, but you wouldn’t know it from their words.  They talk (and post) about the good in life, and the Source of their blessings.  They keep looking up.  Their trust in God permeates their attitude and demeanor.  Because of their serenity, others are drawn to them, and want to know the secret to their peaceful confidence.  How are they living brightly?  Their lack of pessimism and complaint stands out, and points the way to Christ (Phil. 2:14; 4:11).  If being optimistic helps others see Jesus, what does my grumbling do?  I need to remember that.

Some shine by encouraging others to see the Word.  Their posts contain Scripture.  They turn their life experiences into  teaching opportunities.  They remind us why we’re here, what the Bible has to say, and how we can make it real.  With all of the worldly messages swirling around us, I am especially grateful for those who combat it with glimpses into the eternal, hope-giving Word.  We can never get enough of that.  They shine by turning simple, daily rituals into opportunities to plant the Seed (Mark 16:15; Psa. 96:3; Rom. 1:16).   What if each day I look for at least one way to share the Word.  Will it make a difference?  Oh yes.  God’s Word is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12).  All I have to do is remember to help others see it.

Looking at how others are living brightly, I notice that none of the three ways I’ve mentioned involve money or a great deal of time.  There’s no fear of embarrassment or persecution, usually.   They’re just letting God’s love shine through them.  And I’ve been blessed because of it.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for those who spread Your love by reflecting Your Son.  

Mandy Thomas & Monique Martin (photo credit: Mandy Thomas)