Thursday, July 23, 2015
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When Princess Diana died no one could have ever predicted the massive public outpouring of love and grief that came from the British people in the week following her death. Maybe you remember that sea of flowers that enveloped the front of Buckingham Palace and Diana's personal residence at Kensington Palace. You couldn't get anywhere near the gates. The flowers seemed to stretch out endlessly! Someone who had been close to the Princess said, "Diana had no idea she was loved like this." That's sad but not unique.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Flowers Before the Funeral."
I've never been to a funeral anywhere near the scale of Princess Diana's. But I have been to a lot of funerals. And there are lots of flowers there. Not just the kind with petals, but I mean verbal flowers. You hear people talking about how much that person meant to them, about their strong points, about special qualities or experiences that touched the life of the one who was giving the tribute.
It would be very affirming to that departed person if only they could hear it. If only they could, in essence, smell all the flowers that are suddenly coming their way. I can't help but wonder -and even consider for myself how many of us have told him/her these wonderful things while they could still appreciate them?
Our word for today from the Word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:11. It's simple, but it's strong medicine. "Encourage one another and build each other up." That could be up in every home. It could be up in every work place, every classroom. "Encourage one another and build each other up." That's one of those commands from God that would be really great to display wouldn't it?
Too often, we are very communicative about what we don't like that a person is doing. The criticisms, the put-downs, the sarcasm, the complaining, oh they come pouring out really quickly. So most of us have a good idea of what's wrong with us, because we have a lot of help finding that out from others. But you literally have to train your mind and train your mouth to look for and to express what you do like about that person; what strengths God built into them; what they do right. Things you should thank them for, what they've done that's helped you or ministered to you. Let's not save that good stuff for the funeral.
The people in your personal universe are people in desperate need of regular encouragement. How are you doing with that? Are you giving it to them? I love what encourage means. It literally seems to mean putting courage into somebody. Some of us come from a background where there wasn't much praise, there wasn't much encouragement, so it's hard for us to give what we never got. But you of all people should know how much it hurts not to get it. Ask the Lord to give you eyes to see the positive in the people around you and to give you the words to tell them what you see.
When you praise someone, thank someone and compliment that person, when you tell them the good things you see in them, you are doing what the Bible calls "building them up." What's the alternative? Tearing them down. However they treat you, your job is to be like Jesus and to give them the gift of encouragement. Some of the difficult people in your world may be difficult because they've had so little encouragement.
Whatever nice things you might say at a person's funeral, would you say them now? A pile of flowers after they're gone won't do a thing for them. But your flowers now could make a big difference if you give the flowers to them when they can still enjoy them.