It Doesn't Count If I Have To Tell You!

Most people need to make more of an effort to show Christ's love in their lives. We need to be more caring and understanding. But talk is cheap. How do we go beyond just talking about it, and actually do something about it?

Consider the wife who is upset with her husband. She expects him to say something. She has the words picked out in her mind that she wants to hear. But, alas, the poor fellow is not a mind reader and can't quite grasp the magical phrase she requires to let him off the hook. Finally, in desperation, he asks her to tell him what she wants to hear, and he will say it. She lashes out in disappointment, "It doesn't count if I have to tell you!"

Is the wife playing games by forcing her husband to guess what she wants to hear, instead of being direct and just telling him? Or is the husband being lazy and insensitive for not making more of an effort to try to understand her feelings? If she wants to hear some magical phrase, why doesn't she just write it down on paper? Then she could give the paper to any stranger and ask him to read it to her. She would hear exactly what she wants to hear. Why doesn't this work? Talk is cheap.

The stranger has no intentions (or the right attitude) of meeting her needs. The husband should have the right attitude, even if he may not come up with the right words. The husband's words and actions should show he has reflected on their relationship and cares about her feelings. The wife may accept alternative wording, if she feels that he is speaking and acting out of love and concern. The words symbolize, or prove, to the wife that the husband truly does cherish their relationship. It is the husband's cherishing of their relationship that makes the words special, not the actual words themselves.

How can this be applied to Christian living? How do you demonstrate that you care about a person? How do you show that another person is special to you (and to God)? By caring about whatever makes that person special, or unique.

If you know that someone has special needs or problems (like health, job, or family difficulties), ask him about these situations. Tell him you are praying for him. (You can even offer to help. But don't offer help unless you are sincerely prepared to act if he does ask for help.) If you know that someone has special hopes or dreams, show an interest in these areas. (If you don't know, ask.) Is there any way that you can help him accomplish his goals? This may be advice, encouragement, or just listening. It could mean training him in an area you know. Or it could mean directing him to someone who can help.

Also, show an interest in the people about whom he cares. However you show concern, remember to keep things simple and sincere. Although we all need to keep growing, your efforts should not force you too far into areas with which you are not familiar or comfortable. (Ask someone for tips or training when you delve into new areas.) Always keep commitments you make. (Make a list, schedule, or keep a calendar if necessary.) It is better to offer nothing than to disappoint someone by making promises that you can't keep.

Sometimes people do have specific needs and need to hear specific words to address those needs. But often, people really do not care what people say or what they may do for them. What matters most is that people's actions and words demonstrate a kind and caring attitude. People really appreciate a soothing voice, a kind word, a smiling face, a friendly smile, or a card in the mail.

It would mean a great deal to people who are homebound or absent from church to occasionally get a phone call. They might like an update on what is happening at church. But the topic of conversation isn't as important to them as knowing that someone is thinking about them.

As in marital relations, it may seem that relationships with friends and acquaintances are too complicated to improve. Problems with people may seem too difficult to solve. But don't look at the hardest things that seem impossible to solve. Start with the simple things and deal with them one step at a time.

Try to let Christ's love shine in your life. You may find that your efforts to deal with the simple things may have a profound and positive affect on your relationships. You may then find that the difficult things may just take care of themselves, or at least be much easier to solve.

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