A dear Christian lady that I have known for half my life has a birthday this week. She will be 90. That is quite a milestone, to say the least, and as I have thought about her amazing life, I am reminded of a story…
You see, she was my first Pastor’s wife. We didn’t start going to church regularly until I was a teenager. I was set in my habits and life and was very resistant to change. My parents took the transformation in stages, which I believe was a wise thing to do.
They opened their home to us, and they loved us like we were their grandchildren. I remember Pastor having my sister and me sit on his knee, even though we were really too old for it. But at his age, we were still children in his eyes. We laughed with them both more times than I can count. We cried with them too when the time called for it.
But one Sunday I came to church wearing a dress. The dress. It was made for me. My mom and I picked it out for a dance I had gone to two days before. The dress had a cute black cardigan and the skirt was checkered. It ran a little above my knees, but I didn’t really think that was a problem. I was proud of my appearance as I walked into church that morning.
As I walked out and greeted this dear lady, she whispered to me, “Honey, you need to put a brick in that skirt.” I didn’t really understand at the time, but it finally struck me – my dress was too short in her opinion.
I was offended. I was mad. How dare she tell me what to wear to church? I could do what I wanted!
But as I thought, too, about her, and about how she lived, how she dressed, and how she cared about me, my anger subsided. She was protecting me in her own way. She wasn’t nagging, lecturing or calling names. She made one little statement in love. It changed me.
We cling too often to our rights to do things. I wasn’t concerned that Sunday about what that dress was doing to the other men in that church. I was immature and naive. But she knew, and she had the bravery to point it out to me.
People like her are needed more often these days. We fall into two extremes – either we say something to another believer with “fervor” and “righteous indignation”, when really it is sinful pride, and arrogance of knowledge. Or else, we say nothing. We keep younger Christians from growing in both extremes.
The Bible tells us “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)
We have lost the art of graciousness.
The Bible also says, “Let all that you do be done in love.” (I Corinthians 16:14)
We do not do things in love as often as we should.
People respond to grace and love. May we (including me!) take up these qualities a new, live them out in our lives, and use them fully in helping others be all they can be for Christ. Just like my dear friend…