Things My Mama Said
"If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, I’m gonna wear you out!" Sometimes we don’t think before we go out on some limb. It’s foolish to be where we don’t belong, even if it’s a bit exciting. "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).
"If you can’t be happy, you can at least smile while you’re not." That may seem like an oxymoron, even patently foolish, but it’s just good advice. Fact is, even when you’re upset or discouraged, a smile can bring a measure of relief, both to yourself and to others. "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance; but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." How about a smile, now?
"You aren’t going out and make your mother ashamed, are you?" Solomon said, "A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother" (Proverbs 10:1). You can’t do wrong without a poor influence being exerted. It behooves every one of us to consider how the Father feels when we deliberately do things that are wrong.
"If you can’t say something nice, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all." How often we retaliate with some verbal outburst against someone with whom we disagree, or someone we just plain don’t like. What progress is it? What is gained by it? "The prudence of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression" (Proverbs 19:11). I’ve finally learned that sometimes the best defense is no offense at all.
"You kids get out of this house; and don’t slam the door!" Rules are part of life; and rules-keeping is what progress is all about. How many times have you heard your Mom or Dad tell you to be in at a certain time (and don’t slam the door!), or how often have you heard last minute instructions that have become almost boring because you’ve heard them so often? Because they are familiar, does that make them any less true? Actually, God’s rules don’t change and we would do well to pay careful attention when He says, "don’t slam the door!" "Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end" (Proverbs 19: 20).
"You’re gonna finish your plate before you go out and play." How often has a great plan failed for a lack of perseverance. If it’s any good, it’s worth working for. If it’s any good, it’s worth finishing. How many times little difficulties have rescinded our efforts and halted our enthusiasm. "The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets" (Proverbs 22:13).
"This hurts me more than it hurts you." I never understood that–It was the seat of my pants that were on fire. It didn’t seem to hurt her at all. Not until I saw a tear in her eye a few minutes later did I understand what she meant. Then one day, I was about to spank one of the kids and I caught myself saying, "this hurts me more than it hurts you." "Spare the rod and spoil the child" (Proverbs 13:24).
"You better shape up or I’m gonna tell your daddy on you." There is someone to which we must answer. That’s so even regarding the smallest things. As I’m wont to say, we need to "be wise small." Actually, Mom didn’t have to tell the Father; he knew already. "The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, and he over-throweth the words of the transgressor" (Proverbs 22:12).
"Can’t you hear me? Listen, I’m talking to you." We so often don’t hear because we don’t want to. We don’t listen because it gets in the way of what we want to do. It’s very foolish to make a habit of not listening–especially to vital things. "He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul; but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding" (Prov. 15:32)
"You’re not going to wear those socks to church; they’ve got holes in them." It is just so that every man must examine himself. If we will, we’ll often see that we have a hole in some of our socks, that we need to be careful what we wear out in public. It’s a serious matter to allow one’s dirty or mis-matched sox to delay his progress, or restrict his coming to the Lord. Oh, to see ourselves as He does. We are too often prone to self-justification, even self-forgiveness. "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" (Proverbs 20:9).
"I still love you–even when your pants are dirty and you look like you haven’t washed your face in a week." "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth" (Proverbs 24:17). True love learns patience. True love looks past imperfections, little warts, a little dirt on the face. That doesn’t mean that a person who loves tolerates sin; it means he tolerates the sinner, having had a little dirt on his face, too. What love God has manifested to us! What love has His Son Jesus shown in embracing us in all our dirtiness?
I love you, Mom.