Thursday, November 20, 2008

Negative Equity

A husband came home from work after a very long and terrible day. Everything had gone wrong. He said to his wife, “I’ve had nothing but bad news at the office today. If there is one thing I don’t want, it is more bad news.”

His wife gently replied, “In that case, you’ll be glad to know that three out of four of your children did not break their arms today.”

There are people who can see the positive side of things right away, and make others feel good about whatever the circumstances are. Conversely, there are others who cannot find a bright spot in any situation. These people tend to spill out negative comments, give off negative body language, and try to rally others to see the bad in things, situations, or other people.

My family of four went to see Clemson University play Duke last Saturday. It was homecoming weekend, and we had a great time walking around the campus and looking at the homecoming floats before the game. My kids (ages 7 and 4) were very excited to go to their first Clemson game this year.

We found our seats, got settled in, and my wife went to get the kids some hot dogs. They were just finishing the food when we stood for the National Anthem, the Clemson Alma Mater, and cheered as the tigers ran down the hill to take the field. The kids loved it when the balloons were released, and the band played Tiger Rag.

It was only after the game started that I noticed the man directly behind us. He was there with his family. He was very loud and extremely obnoxious. He was wearing a Clemson shirt, but was criticizing everything they did. When Clemson made a bad play or even just an unsuccessful 2nd down pass, he was yelling bad things about the quarterback, and the team.

The interesting thing about this man, was that even when Clemson scored or made some spectacular run or catch, his only comment was, “Well it’s about time!” There was no way for the team to please this person. When they performed badly, he screamed at them, and when they performed well, he screamed.

To make matters worse, I noticed that after a while his wife and kids were doing it as well. I also realized that they were all drinking canned sodas, which they do not sell at the concession stand. There is a rule against bringing in food or drink from outside the stadium. Not only was he teaching his family to be negative, but he was also teaching them that it’s ok to break the rules that you don’t agree with.

God has given us so much to be cheerful about. When we spend our time and energy tearing others down, it may make us feel good about ourselves, but it gives others a very dim view of us. Nobody wants to be around people who are negative and criticize others. Why then, does this seem to be a regular occurrence in most churches?

The wisdom of old says, “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, then don’t say anything at all.” How true those words are. Are you really living out the love of Christ when your language and attitude are filled with negativism? Make it a matter of prayer and ask God to help you see how your words and deeds affect others and their view of you and your Christian walk. Then follow God as He leads you to eliminate such negativity from your life. You, and all who are around you, will be much happier.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don't grieve God. Don't break His heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 The Message)

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