Are we producing harsh deterrents or sweet invitations?

Judith Cooley

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

“You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This old adage is used in a variety of ways anywhere from a tried and true wives tale that holds the secret of a soon-to-be-finished honey-do list which has been passed down from generations. It also serves as a sarcastic reminder highlighting the importance of a polite reply. It can be a clever way to convince someone to join your cause or a visual teaching moment with kids on how to make friends. Most important of all is the way it’s used as a spiritual reminder that what we emanate spiritually and emotionally has a direct effect on those around us. Why should we heed the advice of many grandmother’s that have come before us? Well, as the saying goes, flies prefer to feed on pleasantly sweet, pure, and fragrant substances rather than on sour, tart, and harsh substances. Similarly, people enjoy emotionally feeding on sweet, pure, and pleasant people rather than on harsh, sour, and tart people.

We can all admit that at different times throughout our years, weeks, or even days we struggle against things that frustrate us. We are human so we face annoyances, daily probably, that pop up and pose a threat to our sunny outlook on things. We can’t let those struggles get in the way of our mission in life, which is showing the love of Jesus to those we come in contact with.

We might wake up with the best intentions of being a light to a dark world, expecting to be extra patient today, and hoping to love deeper, but the world has other plans. Silly annoyances, real worries, dire illnesses, crushing disappointments, and serious negativity around us can create a torrent of frustration that can turn any well intending person into frazzled heap. We will all have deep hurts in life that we must overcome. Some people might become soured or harsh by these deeps hurts while others might blossom during difficult times.

God has the power to help us overcome any hurt or frustration. Not only does He have the power to pull us through our though times, but He has the power to help us remain pleasant despite the things that miff us, and He allows us to radiate a pleasant sweetness that only comes from His pure love.

None of us will be pleasant every moment. None of us should expect that, and neither should we expect that of others. We have no idea what others go through on a daily basis just to be in the place that they are. We must be willing to extend grace when others put out vinegar instead of honey, and hopefully others will do the same for us. As followers of Christ, though, we should do our best to win others to Christ which means being aware of the substance we present to others- vinegar or honey- harshness or pleasantness.

We only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Hopefully Christians are beacons of hope and love and purity so much so that others cannot help but be attracted by our infectious grace and kindness. A botched first impression isn’t the end. It’s the faithful way that Christians live their lives that really draws in the waiting world. People emanating positivity, surrender, patience, peace, grace, contentment, and love are sure to attract people who are looking for the same things.

There is now way to take anything physical with us when we leave this world. But, the human spirit is not physical. And, although we will not take our personal converts into heaven with us at the exact moment that we go, we will see them one day. The Bible tells us not to store up earthly things because they will deteriorate and fade away. The spirit is eternal and will spend eternity, after death, in heaven or hell. Do we think about this enough? Each soul will spend all of time in either torment and fire or in grace and glory. The soul is serious business.

How is it that we get so preoccupied with the temporary things that we must leave behind and forget about the eternal souls housed in our friends, our family, our co-workers, our bosses, and our neighbors? The Devil does his absolute best to dangle new and exciting treasures in front of us, but the real treasure is souls. The only thing we can take with us to heaven is the group of people that we point to a transformational relationship with Jesus Christ. Friends, family, neighbors who haven’t accepted Jesus, they can’t come with us. Eternity depends on each person’s personal choice. This is why we must try our best to share the truth as effectively as possible when the Holy Spirit moves us. Any day could be the last, for them, for us, for all of us, and God is waiting for all to find Him.

Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing to see all the faces, of the people that we pointed to Jesus, eagerly waiting in heaven to embrace us and say, “thank you for sharing this wonderful truth with me!”? How amazing will it feel to have our friends greet us in eternity saying: “Thank you for loving me enough to share Jesus with me.” “Thank you for praying for me.” “Thank you for giving me a chance and a second and a third.” “Thank you for taking a chance on me.” “Thank you for not giving up on me.” Thank you for sharing Jesus’ love with me!” “Thank you for wanting me to be here.”

People can be the most challenging things to understand. People can be hard to motivate. People can be hurtful and spiteful. People can be calloused and crude. But, people are also capable of great change. People can be loving and kind. People can be patient, gentle and meek. People can be brave and good. People can be inspirational and challenging in a good way.

People are the most important things God gives to us. Each person represents and eternal treasure. Let us remember the worth of every single soul. The soul of every single sinner was worth the life of Jesus Christ. If God could sacrifice His son, and Jesus could surrender His life for us, each and every one of us, while we were still sinners, that means that God thinks incredibly much of a single sinner’s soul. God hates to see people leave this life apart from Him. Each person that crosses our path is a gift meant for us to unpack. As Christians, it is up to us to share the reason for our joy. We are redeemed. We are loved. We are chosen. We are peaceful. We are content because Jesus has done great work in our lives.

Through the hardships, pray to be pure. Despite the frustrations aim to be sweet. Throughout the days, hope to be exceedingly pleasant. Let the harshness of the world fall away. Pray that nothing that the enemy throws t us can sour us on the sweet truth that is God’s overpowering, redemptive love.

As we go forth, let’s ponder the power of our emotional substance. Are we producing harsh deterrents or are we producing sweet invitations to know the reason for our contentment which is our Savior?

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, a some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Judith Cooley