I wonder if they've ever run out of flowers in England before. Apparently, the florists did 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. 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 and around 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.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Flowers While They Can Smell Them."
I've never been to a funeral on 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 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 person talking.
It would be very affirming to the departed person - if only they could hear it. If only they could, in essence, smell all those flowers that are suddenly coming their way. I can't help but wonder - and even consider for myself - how many of us told him/her these wonderful things while they could still appreciate them?
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:11. "Encourage one another and build each other up." That's one of those commands from God that would be good to have up on the wall in a prominent place - in your home, at church, in your office. "Encourage one another and build each other up."
Too often, we are very communicative about what we don't like that a person is doing. The criticism, the put-down, the sarcasm, the complaint - they all come pouring out pretty quickly. But you have to train your mind and train your mouth to look for and express what you do like about that person, what you should thank them for, what they've done that has helped you or ministered to you. We 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 in giving it to them? Some of us came from a background where there was little praise, little 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 the words to tell them.
When you praise someone, thank someone, compliment someone, tell someone the good things you see in them - you do what the Bible calls "building them up." The alternative, of course, is tearing them down. However they may treat you, your job is to be like Jesus and 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 could make a big difference if you give the flowers to them when they can still enjoy them.