When I was a teen, it was my job to tend to the chickens. My family lived on some land that we were trying desperately to cultivate into a working farm.
If you count 14 cats, a flock of about 10 chickens, and three dogs at any given time, plus about five acres in various forms of produce, we had a farm going on. Mainly in cats and eggs, but that's okay. We had no mice at all and ate a lot of omelets.
Each of the chickens had personalities. We had two competing roosters who would strut around all day at opposite ends of the coop, come together for a bit of chickenly (as opposed to manly) rabble-rousing, then go back to strutting. The eight hens were full of personalities too. From the dominating Henrietta with her big feathers and rooster-like strut -- she knew she was pretty, in a chicken kind of way. She owned the coop. She was head of every committee and produced the most eggs. No other chicken could touch her.
The other hens were fairly docile Rhode Island Reds. They'd scratch and chase flies and other bugs, and nibble on any green grass that even attempted to grow in their shady coop. But there was one hen....one little hen that was hatched with a little limp. She was always the last to the buffet bar and had trouble getting up the ladder to lay her eggs. The other chickens pecked her without mercy. A peck here, a peck there....and when the pecking started, all the chickens chased her, wanting to contribute to the bullying. If I saw this going on, I'd go in the coop, stop the wicked, clucking parade and separate the hurt hen until she was healed up and didn't limp as bad. I'd put her back in the coop when she was completely healed and the limp was hardly noticeable.
Once, though, I got home from high school to find that Priscilla (the limping chicken) was laying on the dirt floor of the coop and all the other chickens were pecking at her. It was too far gone; she had given up, and stopped running. She stopped defending herself. She caved to the relentless assault of the chickens' pecking and laid down to die.
We're not all that different, us humans. Jesus did it all on the cross, and we can ask His forgiveness and He forgives, washes us white as snow, but people....people remember. Just like Priscilla, when she was taken into care and washed, nurtured, cleaned up, her limp didn't show hardly at all. But the others remembered. Those other hens, like satan, knew exactly where the chink was in her chicken armor.
People can be so cruel. Jesus forgives, and, the Bible says, even forgets our sins. Isaiah 43:25 states, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."
But not us. No, we tend to want to bring up people's pasts. We use our actions and words to just keep on pecking at people. Ask any unchurched person why they don't go to church and he or she will mention the hypocrisy of the church. You know what? They're right. Jesus saves; Christians remember.
It's time Jesus' Church starts looking like His Bride -- and stop hogging salvation all to themselves. Remember, Jesus ate with the sinners -- when's the last time your church opened up your potluck? When's the last time the Church forgave someone and extended the hand of Christ in His love and compassion? When's the last time the Church acted like the Christ?
We do this in relationships, too. Our words and our tone should sound like Jesus. Our words, tone and actions should be as sweet as the honey of the Lord's beehives. Reminding a person over and over again how they have messed up or failed only makes them begin to believe it.
Tell a child he can't so many times and he will believe it, and not even try.
Henpecking someone over and over just doesn't damage the relationship -- it damages the person. Like little Priscilla, the person will just give up. She will just lay down to die -- maybe not physically, but certainly emotionally. Mentally.
"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones," reads Proverbs 16:24.
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