When I check my suitcase at the airport - and then I see it disappear as the conveyor belt carries it beyond the curtain into the black hole called - the luggage-zone. I sometimes wonder how my bag is going to be handled. I don't know exactly what baggage handlers do, but I do know that Bertha - I've named my bag since we spend so much time together - she may get tossed, buried, squished. That's why I ask for a special sticker when I'm checking a bag that has something breakable in it - like my last trip, for example. There were a lot of plastic items in my bag that could have been shattered if the handlers got rowdy. So I simply asked for the protection of that bright red sticker with the picture of a fine drinking glass on it - the symbol of breakable. And I hope that somewhere in the luggage-zone that one seven-letter word will make a difference in how my things are handled - the word - fragile.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fragile Stickers."
Our word for today from the word of God comes from Ephesians 4:29 and following. It's a blueprint for how to handle - not baggage - but the people around you. Let's see how you're doing, and how those you're with might grade you on these verses. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
The way we talk to people either builds them up or tears them down. Why is this important? Because people are fragile.
The verses go on to say, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God." It makes God cry, I believe when we damage people He is trying to build. Then God lists some of the kind of handling that damages human cargo. He says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." God is asking us to see what He sees when He looks at the people around us - a sticker that says fragile. A fragile sticker should change the way you handle people.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." This is the standard by which we have to measure our treatment of our mate, our children, our parents, our friends, our co-workers, our fellow believers, our critics, our problem people.
Think about your own relationships - is there too much talk that isn't helpful for building those people up, that tears them down, that isn't kind and compassionate and forgiving? What about the sarcasm, the put-downs, the harsh criticisms, the tendency to dwell on the negative, the names, the cutting humor, the angry responses.
A lot of times we handle people roughly in reaction to how they handled us. But Jesus calls us to do pro-active talk, not reactive, not treating people as we were treated by as we want them to treat us, and treating them, not as they have treated you, but as Jesus has treated you.
The measure of how big a person you are is how big or small people feel after they have been around you. I wonder if you've been making people feel more valuable or less valuable by the way you treat them?
It's time to put that fragile sticker on the people around you, even the hard ones, who are that way probably because they've been thrown around and broken. Each person is made in the image of God, and each person is easily broken, whether they show it or not. I don't want my breakable possession thrown around and broken. God doesn't want His precious, breakable creations thrown around and broken. Remember, they're fragile - handle with extreme care.