二○一九年二月九日／二月十日 Click here for English version
Fragrant Words of Blessing
Rev Arnold Chow
Can your words give out fragrance like an apple? In Old Testament times, apples are famous for their refreshing aroma. That is why appropriate words, the Proverbs says, please the heart and help the listener pull himself together. They make the speaker and the listener happy. They are great words of blessing.
What appropriate words should we say when visiting relatives and friends during the Chinese New Year? I remember one time during a Chinese New Year feast when everybody was exchanging greetings and conventional remarks, I asked a relative about his company. That was met with a serious look. Then I realized that I had said something wrong. Proverbs 25:11 says, "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given." Gold and silver stand for value. It is most appropriate to put fragrant, ripe apples in a carved silver vessel. In the original language, "rightly given" refers to words expressed fitly and at the right time. My words were obviously inappropriate in those circumstances. They were not spoken at the right time nor fitly expressed. They brought bitterness to the hearer.
Around the Chinese New Year, there are often stories in the social media headlined something like "10 Questions You Fear Most to be Asked Around the Chinese New Year." The stories cite subjects that young people are afraid to be asked by the friends they see once a year. Of course, those are funny stories rather than serious writing. Somehow, the merry laughter and angry scolding therein leaves the reader with some sort of pensiveness.
In the Internet world, man seems to be able to control a lot of things at his fingertips. Knowledge and information come at the click of the mouse. However, what used to be normal stages of life have gone further out of control. There are things that people cannot forget nor wish to talk about. They can only be avoided to prevent the bitterness. Every year when you meet friends and relatives in the festive season, can you tell what sort of life situation they are in? Are they depressed, unhappy, lost, sad, anxious, in difficulties or given to reminiscence? We need to learn to speak the right words at the right time.
Some words are unnecessary for the occasion. The Proverbs says it is wise to restrain our tongue. Exhortation, teaching, advice and brilliant tips look good. But the timing must be considered. Festive occasions may not be the right time, however good the intention. On the contrary, keeping silent and quietly praying for the others' lives and needs makes a better blessing. It signifies a mature life under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
In this Chinese New Year, what words of blessing do you intend to use in your festive greetings? I pray that the Holy Spirit will help us to speak honest and appropriate words that become fragrant blessings like apples. I also pray that we will through our lives "spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere" (2 Corinthians 2:14b).
My wish for you all, the NPAC family, is that your cup of blessings will run over, and your lives will always give off the aroma of the Lord Jesus Christ!