Recently I started to think about all those smiling people in my life that just perk me up. When things go awry and life gets complicated, those people in my life that smile and warm my heart are few and far between, yet so important to my survival. Of course this made me think, do I offer that support to my own friendships? Do I give that smile to others when they need it? When my friends are struggling with the truth do I help bring them back to joy?
James 5:19-20 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
The book of James is so jam-packed full of advice on friendship and relationships that I just want to encourage everyone to dive into it. It has an amazing way of describing what characteristics we should bring to the table to help encourage others to be better people and maybe more important to encourage ourselves to be the best we can for the sake of all.
Throughout my life I have encountered struggles and trials that seemed daunting. These storms in my life never failed to teach me lessons. In fact, I truly believe when no lesson was learned from a trial, then I missed out on an opportunity. It was usually my own fault if I couldn’t find the “take-away” from the struggle.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So am I bringing joy to others with my smile? Sad to say, but recently I have not been the “uplifter” in my relationships. In fact, I have been the “Debby-downer.” Living my life in the midst of chaos and struggle has brought me an attitude of selfish desire. It is the “poor me” time in my life. All I can see is my own issues, and I lose focus on the needs of those around me. I need a jump start. I need a smile. I need joy.
So often in life we all find that accepting struggles with humility and strength is difficult. Actually, it is demanding. Within the book of James he encourages us to tame our tongue. Choose our words wisely. Use our speech to praise Him not slander others. Yet when we choose this route sometimes we are seen as the enemy. This is where humility kicks in.
Unfortunately, society doesn’t see the virtue in holding our tongue. Society calls for us to defend our actions, to fight the good fight, and to speak out for our beliefs to be heard. Society wants us to defend our good name, to ensure honor, and to protect ourself from blame. That is the exact opposite of what James tells us.
James 4:11-12 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Drinking my cup of humility today takes on a new meaning. Do I feel encouraged and joyful? Not really. Yet I know there is a bigger meaning for my suffering. I know there is a deep desire to learn my lesson that God is teaching me. Most importantly, I believe that with a lot of perseverance, I will once again be able to offer someone that smile that they need to see.