A New Year has arrived! I wish you and all yours a blessed year in which you will walk with God in good health, peace and joy.
Some Christians think we should always say honest words, truthful words and helpful words, but these good wishing words are too phony; just an attempt to be polite. As Christians, we do not say, ‘wish you good luck’, ‘have everything your heart desires’, or ’be rich’, as people used to say. We ask blessings from God for spiritual wealth, not material richness, and for happy occasions, I think it is appropriate to give good wishes.
I remember many years ago when my late husband I went to visit a new mother. Another pastor was there already, and when he saw us come in, he excused himself and led a prayer before he left. He prayed, ‘In the trouble time like this, one more child will add more distress and worry….please grant this new mother more strength…’
Later, the new mother remarked to us, “He is always like that; he can never say a good word.”
What this pastor said was honest, true and helpful, only he phrased it in a negative way. I’m wondering if we can say something positive as well as helpful.
There is joke about a fool, who wanted to give congratulations to as new baby. While everyone else offered good wishes such as, ‘he’ll grow up and be famous’, or ‘he’ll be rich’, etc., the fool said, ‘He‘ll grow up and die’. In fact, the fool’s words were the truest and most honest, and, I suspect he was a Christian, the so-called most spiritual kind who is overly righteous and doesn’t care about other’s feelings.
Did you know that one of our weaknesses is to say negative words instead of good wishes? Because we are arrogant and jealous, we can’t bear to ‘rejoice with those who do rejoice’. So, we said some thing bad to counteract the possibility that the rejoicing people will be too proud. In fact, we are the ones who are too proud.
In our Chinese community, this attitude has become our etiquette standard. That is, if someone were to praise your family members, the acceptable response would be to say something the opposite. For example, an acceptable response to, ‘Your daughter is very pretty’ might be ‘What the use of her beauty? She never helps around the house’, or a response to ‘Your husband is so considerate’ might be, ‘You should see how he act s at home’, or a response to ‘Your son is so smart’ might be ‘That has nothing to do with me. I wish he would be more filial to me’.
This situation is truly awful! You should check your words the next time you talk with your friends. Let’s all make a resolution in this New Year to say only good words, not bad ones, and when others praise our family members, let’s answer with ‘praise the Lord!’
Wishing you make great progress in speaking this year!