Saturday, August 09, 2008

Be Nice

On summer evenings I love my village walks with Molson.

The path I take leads past some older houses, with old fashioned porches, surrounded by old fashioned country gardens filled with such flowers as lilies and hollyhocks, black-eyed-susans and forget-me-nots.

I admire the wooden porches; some weather worn, others freshly painted, but all inviting. On the porches are carefully arranged wooden rockers or perhaps wicker chairs and loveseats with bright cushions.

"Come sit or rock awhile," they seem to whisper, "Come sit beneath the wind chimes with a good book, or a friend and a cup of tea."

I love the play of light and shadow as the evening breeze sighs through the leaves of the trees.

Hanging above the front door of one house, is a sign bearing a simple message that I have been pondering. "Be Nice," it reads.

What a good message to take to heart, I think.

I would add three more exhortations to make a mantra that, if heeded would make a better world:

Be nice
Be kind
Be gentle
Be generous

Sometimes our focus is on being other things than these: Being right; being smart; being wealthy or even healthy. I have even said to others that if there is a choice between being nice and being right, we have to choose being right. But we can be right and nice.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with being wealthy or healthy, etc., but I believe that a successful life is found in my list above. These qualities are not the domain of the brilliant, witty or rich; anyone can have them, or aspire to. They are the seasonings on the feast of life, for although they may not change what is on the menu, they add to its enjoyment.

It takes intentionality and effort to change from our automatic responses to situations and choose a nicer way of being. A favourite passage from Colossians 3 likens it to putting on clothing. As we decide what to clothe our bodies with each day, so we can choose what to clothe our hearts with.

Colossians 3:12-17 (New International Version)
12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

4 comments:

Susan said...

What a perfect post to ponder as we are turning the page to begin a brand new week in our lives.

Onward and upward!

Belinda said...

Yes,I am praying God's list, from Colossians, this morning--that the clothing of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, forgiveness and love, are on me, and stay on me and in me, all day long. :)

Onward with you, Susan.

Joyful Fox said...

Belinda,

As a family we memorized this verse in October of last year. It has become my daily prayer and the measure by which I take inventory at night.

Thus my despair, regrets, discouragement, and awareness of my human frailty and my need for His grace, mercy, and strength in my life.

The "intentionality" and effort is necessary, but without Him changing us little by little in the deep stubborn places of the heart, there is no victory.

Thanks for that reminder.

It sounds like you are enjoying your walks very much. Much reflection is given to times like these, eh?!

Love to you.

Joanna Mallory said...

Be nice
Be kind
Be gentle
Be generous

And clothe our hearts Jesus' way.

This is one of those simple truths that are easier said than done... but so worth doing. Thanks for this reminder, Belinda.

The LORD help us to grow more like Him because of His presence in our hearts.