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Posts Tagged ‘serving’

Beauty-and-the-Beast1

Beauty and the Beast has been my personal favorite Disney story for many years now.  If you know my husband, it’s easy to see why I identify.  Kidding! Ok, maybe just a little truth there.

The truth is, about 20 years ago, we both started out as beasts.  It was nothing but the Lord who has made us more like the Beauty and less Beastly to one another over the course of time and trials.

A lot of reviews have already been written about this long-awaited real-life remake.  Rather than do that, I just want to focus on one particular aspect that many might miss if they are not paying attention.

Belle is trying to reason through how the living objects in the castle must feel about their sentence of not being human again.  She says something to the effect of, “I can see why he (the beast) deserved this, but you – you did nothing wrong.”

It is at that point that Mrs. Potts pipes up like only a talking tea kettle can do and, from my perspective, speaks the most important line of the entire movie.  She quickly responds without even a second to bask in the expected hesitation, groveling, or self-victimization and says, “You’re right deary, we did nothing…” (when the beast was but a boy grieving over the loss of his mother and became the victim of an abusive, self-absorbed father.)

There is so much to learn from the attitude that Mrs. Potts’ character displays in that one single exchange.  Here’s what we can take from it and perhaps teach our children:

Firstly, no matter what your circumstance or how desperately unfortunate it is, you must never think of yourself as a victim.  A victim mentality will always hurt you.  Personal responsibility and owning up to our own failures in all circumstances is the key to being a person of character.

Next, if it is clear that someone else has been dealt a very difficult hand, we must consider their stressors over their responsibilities and act appropriately towards them.

For ourselves, we overlook the reasons we have to claim a victim status and rise up responsibly.  For others, we look for those same reasons and empathize when they act irresponsibly.  We do not compare circumstances, ever.  We do not compare reactions, grief, or evaluate and/or determine how any other person should be dealing with their own circumstance from an emotional standpoint.  The most important thing to do is serve them.  That’s what Mrs. Potts does.  That’s what her child does.  And, while they do not always agree with or even obey the beast in his unkind and ridiculous demands, they always seek to serve and help him in ways that are beneficial to him.

Finally, Mrs. Potts’s profound statement teaches us the often neglected truth that what we do not do is just as damaging as what we do wrong.  She says, “We did nothing…” (when this little boy’s whole world fell apart.)

That was an admission of guilt – a taking part in the making of a self-centered, unkind, now cursed, beast.  What we do not do for those who we know are suffering and being abused right before our eyes is what will convict and condemn us right alongside them if and when they become beasts in their own right.

Again, this idea does not erase personal responsibility for the beasts of the world.  Each man is wholly responsible for his own actions, always.  What this perspective does is it helps us to understand and own our personal responsibility toward those in need – namely children within our sphere of influence – before they morph into individuals who kill, steal, and destroy just like their teachers.

In other words, we do not get to dislike and avoid people we do not prefer and then turn around and blame them because they are bitter about it.  Our job is to see only our own faults and look past the faults of others in as much as we possibly can and love and serve them despite those faults.

What a great perspective to have.

– Own responsibility no matter how difficult your circumstances.

– Empathize, don’t criticize when others fail.

– Recognize that doing nothing is just as damaging as doing wrong to others.

That’s as true as it can be.

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crutches

Two days ago my oldest daughter fell and sprained her ankle.  Enter: Mom.  I have never actually seen a woman who is nine months pregnant escorting a hopping child and two hyperactive rascals behind, but I can imagine that it is probably quite a sight to see.

After a day’s worth of ice packs, doctors, x-rays, and picking up crutches, she is getting along pretty well.  I don’t think I could walk with sticks but she seems to have figured it out for the most part.  Still, her good sport spirit and adaptive nature is not what surprised me the most.  Her sisters are.  Remember those two little rascals I mentioned following in tow earlier?  They have become her “servants.”  The littlest one always says she is going to be a butler when she grows up.  I’m starting to think she’d make a good one.  Truly, my six and eight year-old have waited on their big sister hand and foot.  She even has a bell to ring when she needs something.

I say I’m surprised because I generally rely on the oldest for help.  She is my sidekick.  The little ones generally do not have much interest in anything besides playing ponies or bathing Barbie.  I suppose it is my fault for not asking as much of them.  It makes me happy to know they are willing to help when they are needed.

The helpful atmosphere in my home the past couple days got me to thinking about the hurting brothers and sisters we are facing right now.  The Syrian people are related to us by a bond called humanity.  They are injured, oppressed, and running for their and their families’ lives.  I may not be very well-versed in foreign affairs or political gains, but I know human need when I see it. I am a Christian, after all.  It is a call second only to sharing the gospel for me to recognize and respond to the needs of others.

I try to see the other side of this thing.  I understand why people are afraid.  But all I can I keep thinking of is how disappointed I would be in my children if they were not willing to help each other.   I keep thinking of how proud I am of them for taking care of their sister when she needs assistance.  And then I look up at the news and I see a staunch unwillingness to serve people in desperate need in the name of self-preservation.

Isn’t that just like us?  It is me-first in the not so united kingdom we call the United States of America.  In the kingdom of God, however, it is what I say five times a day to my now living it out children – others first.

Do others have the potential to hurt us deeply despite our kindness toward them?  They do.  Might they take great advantage of our generosity?  They may.  Can they even go so far as to return evil for good?  They can.  Is there any way to ensure appreciation and reciprocation of the good we do to others when they are in need?  Absolutely not.  But that is not even a relevant argument when loving and serving people comes out of a wellspring of gratitude one has for Christ.  Get this, Christians.  We are not called to help others only when it is safe, convenient, cheap, or easy.  As David said, “…I will not make a sacrifice to the Lord which costs me nothing…”  My Bible says to love your enemies, do good to them, and pray for those who persecute you.  I cannot do that from behind a bullet-proof barricade in my basement.

Isolation is about control.  They only people who try to control uncontrollable circumstances are the fearful; the insecure; the deceived; the anxiety-ridden.

I understand the issues.  Really, I do.  I know fear, insecurity, anxiety, and uncertainty are real factors in the refugee refusal rhetoric.  The problem I see for we Christians, though, is that neither fear, nor insecurity, nor uncertainty, nor anxiety is an acceptable excuse to forsake and forego loving and serving those broken and needy Syrian somebodies whom God has placed bare-faced in front of us.

Risk, courage, and personal sacrifice are the very fabric of Christianity, and, in days past, Americanism.  King Jesus is our example.  He, who wielded the most power of any man who ever lived on earth, forsook that advantage in order to save the lost, hurting, and dying.  My God was willing to die for me and, from what his book says, I believe he expects me to be willing, if need be, to lay down my life for his good purposes.  Self-preservation is not an option when Christ is our Lord.

Some will hate, terrorize, and kill us despite our love toward them, that much is true.  Our job isn’t to figure out who those ones might be.  Our job is to love people on behalf of Christ.  Who knows who might repent and receive the gospel as a result.  If it just so happens to be at our expense, the Bible says that is a blessing for us.  The question is, do we really believe it?

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. ~Matthew 5:10-16

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work

Paul continues the Lord’s instructions for human relationships in teaching on how to be a good servant.  The application is for anyone who is a subordinate of another in the context of labor or service.  Any employment given to men by men stands to benefit in regards to these commands.

The Biblical prescription for employees, servants, and subordinates in the work place?

“…obey in everything those who are your earthly masters…”

“…work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…”

Paul teaches that all requests of earthly bosses and masters are to be taken seriously.  We are to serve men in a genuine and whole-hearted way, not in a for show, pretend, lazy behind their backs way.  The reason Christians are to work in this way is because of our fear and respect for the Lord.  That way, the attitude and advocacy of the boss makes no difference regarding our job performance.  We are not working to appease unruly bosses, we are working to please the Lord.  Even when we are treated unjustly and harshly, we remember that the Lord will give us our due.

Paul reminds us that God is impartial to men and that he favors no one based on status, position, race, or ethnicity.  God is completely just and will repay each of us for the work we have done as well as the way we have done it.

Paul also tells masters, aka, leaders, bosses, CEOs, etc., that God is watching.  He warns those in authority over others that they must treat their subordinates well lest they be judged by the true Master in heaven.

If you are a servant, employee, or subordinate of someone else, work hard and obey them as if they Lord were the one commanding you.  If you are a boss, leader, master, or person with any authority over others, be fair and just dealing with your subordinates as you would have the Lord deal with you.

If the instructions on work ethics found here in Colossians were taken seriously, the vast majority of the problems seen in the work place would be eliminated.

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