While traveling the world and meeting thousands of individuals of different faiths, ethnicities, ages and backgrounds I have made an “astonishing” discovery—everyone is more talented and has different experiences than I am in some aspect of life, and I can always learn something new and unique from them. So for me to distinguish some characteristic of them physically, mentally, economically, socially or not of their gifting or strength is not only wrong, but also absurd.

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15).

I wonder how many un-churched “visitors,” who struggled to walk through the doors of a church one Sunday, I have ignored in search of friends or because I judged they were different, instead of seeking to love and make welcome. How many of the seventy-nine percent did I confirm with my actions?

Can we really expect to share the Word of God and how it, and he, has changed our life when we don’t seem to be living it implicitly ourselves?

We need to respect one another as a gift of God with a gift from God. If we continue to practice finding wrong with each other, how do we expect to have strong meaningful relationships for ourselves?

It has been a commonly accepted statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce, most due to financial reasons, many to infidelity and others still as “irreconcilable differences.” I have to believe a universal thread in most of these failed marriages is the propensity of each spouse to point out faults rather than identify and embrace strengths and uniqueness in one another.

Let’s stop wasting our precious time in godless chatter (1 Timothy 6:20) and seek to love one another by recognizing and celebrating each other’s gifts rather than our differences.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all Mom


Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel.  An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback?  Send your comments and questions to cydmg@yahoo.com.