Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Humble Friendship

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about my attitude about friendship and relationships (almost a trite topic, eh? ;-)).

I realized that I don't necessarily enjoy the fact that being looked upon as "just a friend" in some sense seems to delegate me to a lower position in the affections of others. Isn't it true that when certain people express disinterest about considering more than friendship, we can feel "not good enough" or "less qualified" ? To be treated as no more important than any other, to take the lowly position--this can be difficult.

In a sense, though, doesn't this seem to be a struggle between grateful humility and selfish ambition? When it really comes down to it, isn't it so much better to be called up, to be summoned to a higher position not because we were striving to please others, but because other people recognize Christ within us as we let our focus rest on Him rather than on impressing others? Because I'm a girl who appreciates it when men are the initiators of advancing relationships from friendship to romance, I have a great opportunity contentedly be a servant in relationships, without needing to try to gain a higher position for my own self. (if only I always were faithful to use the opportunity! ;-)) The goal doesn't need to be to draw attention to myself or to climb to higher places in my own strength because of my own desires. In relationships and in every area of life, too often when we seek positions in our own strength we see that the consequence is being delegated to a low position in the end.

It reminds me of the parable in Luke 14, in which Jesus admonishes us not to seek the high positions for ourselves, since when we do so, we only put ourselves in danger of being publicly humiliated and humbled. It's better to be content with humility in the first place and to be exalted in due time.
"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be
exalted.” (verse 11)

I'm not saying that once we're content with friendship, we'll automatically be exalted to the position of marriage. ;-) All I'm really saying is that right now we all have different opportunities to rejoice in the positions God has called us to. Since what He's called me to today is friendship and Christ-like agape love, rather than human romance, I've got the chance to be joyful in this state. Friendship is a great gift, and while sometimes we may desire more, if we don't give thanks even when we're in a more humble state in man's affections, we won't really be fit to be exalted. Anyway, no matter how humble our positions ever are here on earth--whether our humble places be in the realm of our jobs, relationships, or any other area of life--none of that really matters so much when we consider the fact that we're never in a low place in the affections, concern, and thoughts of the God of the universe.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You. Ps. 139

I don't know if I could really ask for anything better than this--to know that God's thoughts towards me are more than the sands of the sea, and that He's with me and thinking of me wherever I am, whether I am humbled or exalted!

"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11b-13

That's the kind of attitude I want to have.
No matter what state I'm in, I want to be content and to remember that my strength is in Christ. Yesterday I needed His strength. Today I needed His strength. Tomorrow I'll need His strength. In the humble positions I need His strength. In the exalted positions I need His strength. In friendship I need His strength. If I marry, I'll need His doubt about it. ;-)

May we always be humble in every place He takes us.
May we never exalt ourselves, but do all for His glory alone.
May we find joy in His loving wisdom as He brings us through different seasons! =D

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thoughts on Sarcasm

Sarcasm was the topic of discussion recently in an online forum I'm part of, so I started giving the topic some thought...
It's actually something that's bothered me for a while, but it's difficult to make sure I don't misuse sarcasm. I try not to use it too often, but sometimes I definitely make the mistake of using it inappropriately, still. ;-)

If I allow sarcastic speech to become a comfortable habit, I know that I’ll end up hurting peoples' feelings--it's happened in the past when unwise sarcastic comments have slipped out of my mouth. I can think of situations when I just went too far and the sarcasm became hurtful. Sarcasm can even be an easy way for me to insult someone in a way that appears to be merely silliness or good-natured fun. It can be tempting to use it that way, since it’s easier than being obviously unkind and simply saying, “I don’t like this about you,” or, “You really bother me.” ;-) If my heart isn’t right and if I haven’t given any negative thoughts over to God, saying something negative about someone in a sarcastic way is just going to be a manifestation of my wrong heart attitude.

Perhaps it can be beneficial if used in an uplifting, fun way. Merry hearts and laugher are like medicine! Yet I probably have seen more hurtful sarcasm than beneficial sarcasm. I’ve even observed from a distance a couple of marriages in which the couples call each other names and mock each others’ faults through sarcasm. How opposite that is from acting in a way that will show others we’re Christians by our love.

When I'm not sure if sarcasm is something my speech should
not be, Scripture tells me what my speech should be!

Ecc. 10:12 “Words from a wise man's mouth are
gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.”

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

Matthew 12: 34b-37 “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken…"

My words should be gracious. They should bring healing rather than pain. They should consist of good words, coming from the overflow of my heart. I’ve seen some silly sarcasm among friends that wasn’t out of line with those things, but I’ve also seen sarcasm that seemed to be just the opposite of what our words should be.

I know that we’re supposed to love with our actions, not just with words. But since words can show our heart, it does seem important to let our words and hearts reflect the love that we should already be showing in our actions!
As I was thinking about this and looking up some Scriptures, I came across Job 12:11, which says this: “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?” When David talks about the words of God in Psalm 119:103, he says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Wow, that’s the way I want my words to be! So often I fall short of speaking in a Christ-like way. If someone tested my words just like they taste food, they wouldn’t always see that my words are gracious, healing, and from a loving heart. But I really do want others to “see that the Lord is good” when they taste my words! I need to make more careful choices about when I’m going to use sarcasm and when I’m going to refrain from it. Too often I let words leave my mouth without reigning them in first, saying what I don't want to say, and not saying what I do want to say! God, guard my mouth!