Monday, 9 April 2012

What's the Good Word?

Photo Credit: Rabih
Flickr Creative Commons
It is both amazing and sad how many people today are anxious about a great many things. Our economy leaves a lot to be desired, unemployment is high, families are struggling, homes are being repossessed, and healthcare concerns abound. Military campaigns on foreign soil and potential new threats of more terrorist attacks at home, all lend to unnerving the masses; they all lend themselves to stress and anxiety. Most of us would probably have a hard time counting on one hand the number of people we know who are not, or appear to be not, stressed out by one thing or another.

When we stop to think about it, it’s little surprise that there are such high incidents of alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, divorce and family violence. People are at their whit’s end. Even those who seem to have it all together, are likely running on such a short fuse that they will also explode if much else goes wrong in their world.
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good [kind; NIV] word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25; ESV).
I was thinking about that verse of Scripture this morning. Though people are weighed down by all sorts of things that cause for them truck-loads of anxiety, apparently they can be made glad by something as simple as a “good,” or a “kind,” word.

Now I don’t have any big and profound biblical exposition to share with you about this. I was simply meditating on the way that we treat one another. It’s really quite sad that we have to be reminded all the time to practice kindness, isn’t it? You would think that we Christians, of all people, would know this by now. 
“Love is patient, love is KIND” (1Cor.13:4). “Be KIND and compassionate” (Eph.4:32). “Always try to be KIND to each other” (1Thes.5:15). “Be KIND to everyone” (2Tim.2:24). 
Well, you get the point. Since being KIND still seems to be so rare among many of us, that tells me that we either don’t know what the word really means, or we simply don’t care. We’re good at reciting verses from the Bible, but not always so good at applying them in a practical way. Maybe it’s time to get back to basics for a moment. In case we’ve forgotten, here’s how my dictionary defines this word that so many of us struggle with:
Kind. adj. 1 helpful, considerate, generous, etc., 2 gentle, 3 showing or characterized by helpfulness, gentleness, etc.
Now let’s apply this to the anxiety of others. What’s going to help them, as Proverbs says, to “be glad?” In their anxiety they’re made glad when you and I are helpful, considerate, and generous. A “good word” or a “kind word” includes being helpful, it includes being considerate, and it includes being generous.

Photo Credit: Alaina
Flickr Creative Commons
I’m reminded of the woman with the disabling spirit that Jesus healed (Luke 13:10-17). I wonder how anxious she was? Life had thrown her an awful curve ball for 18 long years. Think that wouldn’t stress you out? Think her life wasn’t upside down? Think she wasn’t weighed down with anxiety? I’m sure she was. In an act of kindness, Jesus shared the “good word” of healing with her, despite the objections of the religious. It’s interesting that with the religious all Jesus shared was the word “hypocrites!” Perhaps that was the “good word” for them that they needed to hear.

Ultimately, the good word that we should be sharing is Jesus, for He is the Word (John 1:1). This is not to be mistaken for sharing religion. The last thing people who are anxious need is religion. They don’t need to be invited to your church; they just need you to BE the church. They just need a helpful, considerate and generous friend. They need a kind word. They need a good word. They need the “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27).

How much do we really care for each other? Enough to be there with a good and kind word when someone’s world begins to run amuck and anxiety sets in? Do they see Jesus in you and me? Or do they just see a bunch of useless and hypocritical religion? I wonder.

So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing;
So send I you to toil for Me alone.

So send I you to bind the bruised and broken,
Over wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake,
To bear the burdens of a world a-weary;
So send I you to suffer for My sake.

So send I you to loneliness and longing,
With heart a hungering for the loved and known,
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one;
So send I you to know My love alone.

So send I you to leave your life's ambition,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long, and love where men revile you;
So send I you to lose your life in Mine.

So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, though it be blood, to spend and spare not;
So send I you to taste of Calvary.

Could it be that the kind word, the good word, that Heavenly Father has for the anxiety in His children’s hearts, that He intends it to be delivered to them by you and me who are called by His name? When Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21; ESV), do you think that he had the mission fields of our backyards in mind too? Do you think he is concerned with the “anxiety in a man’s heart” today?

Yes, I believe He is too. Lord, give us willing hearts to do that which we know that you’ve called us to do, even if it is only a kind and a good word for an anxious soul.

Hymn "So Send I You" by E. Margaret Clarkson

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