The Words of My Mouth

 

Image by Beverly Buckley from Pixabay

May the words of my mouth . . . be pleasing in your sight, O LORD. – Psalm 19:14 NIV

At our house, Thursday is leftover day, meaning supper is whatever is left over from meals earlier in the week.

One Wednesday a number of years ago, I made enough stewed tomatoes and macaroni, one of my husband’s favorite meals, to fill his still-a-farmboy stomach and a 2 ½-quart casserole dish with leftovers.

Thursday’s supper, I figured, would be easy: pop the casserole in the nuke, shake packaged salad into bowls, and throw a loaf of fresh bread and soft butter on the table. Nice and quick—just what I needed on grocery day.

But when I was in town that Thursday, a “fresh corn” sign caught my eye. I envisioned steaming yellow cobs dripping with melted butter on our supper plates beside the leftover stewed tomatoes and macaroni. And I pictured a delighted look on my husband’s face.

I’ll surprise him, I thought, flicking on my blinker and turning into the parking lot.

When Dean called to say he was on his way home from work, I had the water boiling and the corn husked, ready to drop into the pot. But his reaction wasn’t what I expected. He didn’t rave about the corn—nary a word about it.

“What’s wrong?” I asked when we sat down at the table. After being married to the guy for more than half my life, I’m pretty good at reading his body language.

“Nothing,” he said.

I gave him my best “I know better than that” look.

“The corn is sweet,” he said, “and the macaroni is, too. You know I don’t like something sweet with something else that’s sweet.”

Sure it’s sweet, I wanted to say, with all the sugar you dump on the macaroni. Instead I said, with just a touch of sarcasm, “Thanks, Michele, for thinking of the fresh corn. It hits the spot.”

Now, my husband doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s honest to a fault. He’ll never tell me, for example, that I look nice just to make me feel good. But, gee, can’t he lie just a little once in awhile?

Perhaps I’m too sensitive, but I’m not alone in this longing to be appreciated.

“There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation than for bread,” Mother Teresa once said.

St. Paul instructed the early church to “let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT).

Like oil on squeaky hinges, a few words of appreciation can go a long way—in building up relationships, soothing a battered spirit, refreshing a weary soul, and putting a smile on a sad face. I can get a lot of mileage out of one compliment.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb,” penned the writer of Proverbs, “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

Sweet words of appreciation—who in your world can use them today?

Open my eyes, Lord, to the many kindnesses others show to me every day—and remind me to express my appreciation often. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 17:11–19

 © 2009, 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

A Costly Gift

“The Anointing at Bethany” by Daniel F. Gerhertz

I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing. – 2 Samuel 24:24 (NIV)

Years ago a guest speaker in church asked us to raise our hands if we believed we were fully surrendered to God. I raised my hand.

At the time, I thought I was fully surrendered. But over time, God showed me how I was holding back.

What does “full surrender” look like? I wondered.

Then I read the story of the woman who poured the entire contents of a costly jar of expensive perfume on Jesus. The practical ones grumbled. “What a waste!” they said. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

The apostle John tells us that Judas Iscariot was the one who objected. “He didn’t say this because he cared for the poor,” John wrote, “but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6 NIV).

“Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

This woman, described by Luke as a “woman who had lived a sinful life in that town,” demonstrated better what full surrender looks like than the disciples and the “good” folks of the time—in more ways than one.

First, her motive was pure. An outcast, she was looked down upon by the so-called righteous citizens who were indignant that this pariah would crash their party. But she’d been forgiven and given a new life, a clean slate, and she wanted to show her deep gratitude. How grateful am I that the doors of heaven have flung open wide for me, thanks to the sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary? How do I show my gratitude for what God does for me every single day? Full surrender shows gratitude.

Second, she gave the best she had. Most alabaster in those days was actually marble, and we know marble, even today, is costly. The perfume, nard, was worth a year’s wages—around $33,000 by today’s standards. Wow. Have I ever given God my best? Full surrender gives the best.

Third, she poured it all out. Nothing kept in reserve—just in case. When have I given God my all? Full surrender doesn’t hold back—it gives all.

Fourth, she ignored the criticism and obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit. How often do I let what others might say or think of me determine what I do? How obedient am I to the Holy Spirit’s promptings? Full surrender obeys.

Fifth, she recognized the opportunity to do what she could before the window closed. Too often I say mañana—not now. Tomorrow. Next week. Next payday. When I have time, money, whatever. And I lose the opportunity to do good. Full surrender doesn’t put off or look for excuses—it acts promptly, whether or not the command makes sense.

Who am I most like—the weeping, grateful woman? The smug, prideful onlookers who thought they were better than her? Or, worse, am I like Judas, hiding behind greed and selfishness?

Another account comes to mind: David—the shepherd, psalmist, king, man after God’s own heart—went to purchase some property so he could built an altar to God (2 Samuel 24:18–24). The owner offered to give it to him. David refused. “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” Have I ever truly sacrificed to give? Full surrender sacrifices.

Full surrender. I’m not there yet, but, with God’s help, I’m still working on it.

Father, keep drawing me closer to full surrender to You. Remove the fear of losing control—the fear of losing what I love and cling to. Plant the desire, the willingness, and the trust I need to let You truly be God and Lord. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–38John 12:1–8.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.