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Good Wishes

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!

新的一年又到了!我在這裡祝福你們,因著與神同行,而擁有健康、平安和喜樂並蒙福的一年。

有的基督徒認為我們應該總是說誠實話,帶著真理和有益於人的言語,但是這樣的好意往往顯得很虛偽,因為那只是一種禮貌的做法。基督徒不說:“祝你好運”,或是“祝你心想事成”,或像一般人說的“恭喜發財”。我們向神祈求屬靈的福氣,而不是世界的富裕。但是在我們開心的時候,我想給予適度的祝福是合宜的。

許多年前,我和丈夫去探訪一位剛做母親的姐妹,另一位牧者也在那裡。當他看到我們時,便做了一個禱告,準備離去。他做了這樣的禱告:“在這種愁煩的時刻裡,一個孩子的來臨將帶來更多苦難和憂慮…..求神賜給這位新媽媽有更多的力量…”

稍後,姐妹告訴我們:“他總是這樣,從來不說好話。”

那位牧者是為了表明誠實,說出帶著真理又希望對人有益的話,只可惜他的話都很負面。我相信我們也可以說正面的話,同樣是誠實,帶著真理,且給人有盼望。

有一個笑話講到有個傻子要去恭喜人家添了個嬰孩,當人人都在說祝賀的話,例如:“他將成長並成為有名望的人”,或是“他看起來好有富貴相”,等等。那個傻子說:“他會長大,然後死掉”。傻子的話很誠實,帶著真理,我甚至懷疑他是否是個基督徒,那種最屬靈的,超有正義感,卻毫不顧慮他人感受的信徒。

你知道嗎,我們有一個極大的弱點,就是往往用負面的話來表達我們善意的祝福。因為我們心裡充滿傲慢和嫉妒,我們無法和喜樂的人同樂。所以我們要用一些負面的話去打擊那些在喜樂中的人,免得他們太驕傲。事實上,我們才是那驕傲的人。

在華人圈裡,這種心態已經形成一種禮儀標準。例如,若有人讚美你的家人,總有人用反面的話去回應。就好像有人讚美“你的女兒好漂亮!”,她的父母會說:“漂亮有什麼用?她從來不幫忙做家事。”或是有人說,“你丈夫好體貼啊!”對方會說,“你都沒看到他在家裡是怎樣的。”若有人稱讚人家的兒子“好聰明,對方可能說:“那跟我沒關係,只要他能多孝順一點就好了。”

這種情形實在太糟糕了!下次當你和朋友談話時,要想想看自己說了些什麼話。讓我們在新的一年裡立個心志說好話,不要說負面的話。當有人稱讚我們的家人時,讓我們回答:“讚美神!”

祝你今年在言語方面有很好的進展!

注:本文曾刊登在溫哥華真理報2018年一月

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