On The Surface

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By Rick Moore

Jack asked the pastor to officiate the funeral for his brother Jim. The pastor had never spoken with Jack nor his brother Jim, but he certainly knew of their reputations. They were vile, wicked, and ruthless. Their shady business deals and illegal exploits were known throughout the county. Not sure how to respond, the pastor told Jack that he had never spoken to Jim. Jack said that was okay. All he wanted was for the pastor to stand before Jim’s coffin and proclaim that “Jim was a saint.” The pastor asked how he could possibly say such a thing when he had never met Jim? Jack told the pastor that if he proclaimed Jim to have been a saint, the church would receive a million dollars. The pastor certainly wanted the money, but didn’t want to compromise his integrity to get it. He thought about it for a moment, and then reluctantly agreed to officiate the funeral and proclaim Jim was a saint.

Cloud With Tropical Fish Seascape Over Under Water
Cloud above sea surface with tropical fish underwater, seascape over and under water, Pacific ocean, French Polynesia, Oceania

On the day of the funeral, Jack sat in the front row. He wanted to make sure the preacher followed through with the agreement. After a song was sung, and the eulogy read, the pastor stood before the open casket that held Jim’s body. The pastor wasn’t sure he could go through with it. He looked at Jim lying before him, then looked at Jack, then looked at those in the audience who knew what type of person Jim truly was. The pastor took a deep breath, and then began preaching. He said all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and that Jim was a sinner! His brother Jack was in shock. He thought he had an agreement. The pastor went on to say that Jim was involved with just about every evil a man can be involved with. He regularly got drunk, he abused drugs, and he was a womanizer. However, in comparison to his brother Jack who is sitting on the front row today, “Jim was a saint!”

One of the signs someone may not really mean what they are saying is when they add the word “but” or “however” to a sentence. For example, I love you, however…, or I forgive you, but… Often, while driving across the bay, or observing the calm Gulf waters, I try to imagine some of the activities happening under the surface of the water. I can’t see the big fish hunting the little fish, or the dolphins playing. A shark may be chasing its prey just yards from kids playing in the water, but it is not seen on the surface. Words are very similar. On the surface, the words may seem harmless, but the deeper meanings of the words that are said can have life or death implications. Words of affirmation such as “I love you” or “I am proud of you” can be life changing to a person in deep despair. Words such as “you fool” or “you idiot” can cause a person to give up hope.

If a person explodes in public and curses someone out, it has the effect of a giant shark bite. But often, like being attacked by a school of piranha, it’s the hundreds of little bites that take the life out of someone. The constant devaluation from telling someone they are doing something wrong, or constantly nagging others can be like death from a thousand paper cuts. Most of us can think of times we have been a victim of harmful words spoken. Most of us can also confess to having said hurtful words to others. However, we often do not realize how powerful our words are. Some words that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime, good or bad. One encouraging word can change someone’s entire outlook on life. Who will you share a kind word with today?

Rick Moore is Communications Pastor at Destiny Worship Center

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