We were in a restaurant eating lunch with our son and his family. As usual we tried to split the grandchildren up so we could be sitting next to all three of them. One of our granddaughters ended up next to my wife who, therefore, helped her order her entree. On this day our granddaughter did not want a selection from the Kids Menu; she was determined to order something from the adult selections. So that’s what she did, with grandma’s permission! A short time later the waitress brought the food to our table. After she was done our granddaughter looked down at her serving and said, with a brilliant smile, “I have an adult plate!” Whether or not she would enjoy the food didn’t matter – she felt like an adult.
I was reminded again that such simple things – like allowing a child to order as an adult – mean so much. We all crave positive encouragement; we long for anything that raises our self-esteem. And more often than not our simple, well-chosen words offered to someone else accomplish this for them. Consider Proverbs 25:11 – “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” As Prov. 15:23 adds: “What a joy it is to find just the right word for the right occasion!”
It sounds so simple, but it is not. It takes discipline to offer the apple regularly. In fact, as Paul was teaching the Ephesian church about new life in Jesus, he mentioned the critical nature of words and speech. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (4:29) He continued by explaining that this meant that they were to “…get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Still later (5:4) he said “Nor should there be any obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” A Christian’s speech should be clean, clear, uplifting, encouraging, and enabling – especially when addressed to children. (It is especially important in this time when adults all around them and in the media are not living by that standard – but that’s another blog for another time.)
I can testify to the power of the apple. I still remember receiving so many apples as a child and youth – words and notes of encouragement. They came from Sunday School teachers, pastors, youth leaders, school teachers, parents and other family members. One of my most vivid memories is, following a speech I gave at my High School graduation, receiving a note of commendation, appreciation, and encouragement from a local judge who was in attendance. His note, along with all the other apples, prepared me to answer God’s call to ministry. Their apples have profoundly influenced my life, and the many apples I have opportunity to offer.
What were some of the apples in your life? Whose words influenced and impacted you? And to whom are you giving apples? Who has Jesus placed before you? I truly believe an apple a day is a powerful way to positively influence our children. What apples can you give out today?