Kind Words and A Kiss

Story of the Day for Friday April 20, 2012

Kind Words and A Kiss

What a joy to give an apt reply, and how delightful is a timely word!
Proverbs 15:23

Benjamin West was one of the greatest painters of his day. Do you recall his masterpiece The Death of General Wolfe? Okay, well never mind — he was a good painter. He painted Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. In 1763, he moved to England where King George III had him paint the portraits of the royal family. Later, he became president of the Royal Academy of Arts.

William Barclay describes a time when West was little. One day his mother left him in charge of his little sister Sally. Benjamin discovered some bottles of ink and began to paint Sally’s portrait

He made quite a mess of things, with ink blots all over.

When his mother came home, she saw the mess but said nothing. She noticed the painting, picked it up and said, “Why, it’s Sally!” Then she stooped down and kissed Benjamin.
Benjamin West used to say, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.”

Kind words and a kiss. What a joyous moment that must have been.

I’m not, however, referring to the delight of little Benjamin West, but of his mother. Proverbs 15:23 isn’t talking about the joy of receiving an apt reply; it’s talking about the joy of giving one.

Many times, of course, we must criticize others, and others must criticize us. But have you ever noticed that those who are habitually critical of others look like they just found a toenail clipping in their soup?

Yeah, sometimes we have to criticize, but it pains us — or, at least it should pain us. Speaking kind words, on the other hand, does more than bring encouragement to the hearer; an encouraging word delights the giver.

This last winter I completed my twentieth Birkebeiner. The “Birkie” is a cross-country ski marathon stretching over thirty miles from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin.
Thousands of spectators line the course. To reach the finish line you must ski down Main Street in Hayward. You can hear the thunderous roar of the crowd well before you hit the street. Through a P.A. system that can be heard above the din of the crowd, the announcer shouts out your name and hometown as you ski to the finish.

The Birkie is a moving experience. Everyone claps for you and cheers you on. Not once has a spectator shouted “Ski faster! I can’t believe how slow you are!”
Fatigue always catches up with you and when you feel you can ski no further, the spectators provide the lift that sees you through to the finish.

When it comes to spiritual things, I’m a late bloomer, but in recent years I’ve made a discovery. When a fellow skier is injured or has hit the wall, I like to stop now and help. I’m slow enough as it is, and stopping to help others does nothing for my race time.
Over all these years the spectators never shared their secret with me . . . but I’ve learned it’s even more thrilling to give encouragement than it is to receive it.

The Bible says Jesus, “for the joy set before him” endured the cross in our place. Slowly I’m learning how true his words are when he taught us, “It is more blessed to give than receive.”

                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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