How appreciative of the small things are we really? Earlier this week I asked the question about looking a gift horse in the mouth. I wonder just how many of us look at a simple crust of bread and think we got short-changed on the deal. It isn't the crust of bread which determines the "value" of the meal, but the attitude in which the crust is received and partaken. In fact, there are times I would prefer a crust taken in peace than the whole loaf when the rest of the loaf actually comes with strife, unrest, or unease!
A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels. (Proverbs 17:1 MSG)
The dry crust may not be a splendid as the gooey center of the loaf, but it has the potential of providing us everything we need with a whole lot less effort or cost! I think there are times we yearn for more, but don't remember at what cost the "more" comes. Nelson Mandela once said, "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." Peace takes work. Live long enough in strife and you forget the bliss of peace - it becomes something you only yearn for, but forget how to achieve.
Benjamin Franklin said, "He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows and all he sees." There is deep wisdom in these words. Speaking all we know is sometimes dangerous, isn't it? You can be the smartest person in the room, but you don't always have to speak what it is you know! Sometimes it is wisest just to enjoy your crust of bread and enjoy the peace it provides. A little later in this same proverb, Solomon shares these words: Evil people relish malicious conversation; the ears of liars itch for dirty gossip. (vs. 4 MSG) Maybe this is what Franklin was intending in his words - not everything thought needs to be spoken, not everything known is up for display. It might just do us well to hold back on occasion, as the "fuel" we offer in our words may actually cause a fool to burn out of control!
What we listen to affects our hearts. Affected hearts have affected actions. Liars pay attention to destructive words - they zero in on them like ants on honey. Wrong doers listen to wicked and malicious talk - formulating a plan for their next attack long before their prey even knows they are poised. Since we are affected by what it is we hear, it makes sense we are also affected (and affect others) by what it is we say. Our speech is an evidence of our heart's content. What's your speech revealing about your heart?
I have a friend who I have taken notice of many times. The words which are spoken by her are genuine - conveying compassion and real interest in the other person. I know when she asks something, it is not for small talk. I know when she expresses an opinion, it is not to start an argument, but rather to share her feelings at the moment. I also have learned something else about her words (or the lack of them) - they are chosen wisely, not in haste, and are sometimes withheld when she feels they will not bring good into the situation at hand.
Too many times we focus on the faults of another. Would it come as a surprise to you to know that God actually asks us to overlook small faults - to disregard them? Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend! (vs. 9 MSG) When we stop focusing on the faults of another, we begin to see the possibilities of God in those areas of their lives. Bring God into the picture and you will begin to see the individual through different eyes. When a fault is revealed to me, God doesn't want me to make it a matter of gossip, or fodder for conversation "about" the person. He wants me to make it a matter of prayer - conversation with him FOR the other person.
When we become people of understanding, willing to hold our "peace" instead of speaking all we know or think, we might just be surprised at the results we will see when we take those thoughts to God instead. I have said it before, but it bears repeating until we get this: The tongue falls into trouble quicker than any other fault we could have. Get it going and it is hard to stop its downward cycle. Learn to hold it, and you cannot imagine the potential the "lack of fuel" can yield! Just sayin!