Title: A Congenial Life
Theme: Biblical Principles for Achieving a Pleasing Nature
• Congenial Life Learns to Listen
• Congenial Life Gives Without Sparing.
• Congenial Life Prays Without Ceasing
• Congenial Life Does Not Complain or Argues
• Congenial life Trust Without Wavering
• Congenial life Promises Without Forgetting
Introduction: We live in a time were people are easily influenced by a world view off criticizing, complaining and the disregarding of the feelings of others. The work place often has an atmosphere of tearing down others for the purpose of building one self-up. Family members spend to much time speaking derogatory comments about and toward each other, rather than speak words of appreciation. Coaches, parents, actually everyone in a place of authority find themselves under the radar of speculation and accusation rather than a searching heart of council and direction. Recently, I saw a face-book pop-up, a picture of an old couple roller-skating together, with comments presenting love as forbearance, the empowerment for not killing each other after all those years of being together.
Proposition: I would propose to you that the Bible has principles to live by that surpasses forbearance and creates congenial surroundings filled with people who have a congenial spirit. In this world filled with a complaining and a critical spirit, there are people who, through a disciplined life, live a congenial life.
Jim Bennet, writing about the Congenial Workplace tells us, "When working alongside individuals that have an overly negative attitude, many people find that their own attitude becomes negative and progress in the workplace is slowed considerably. It is the job of the business management to create a congenial workplace in which all of the employees are able to get along (at least to the point of keeping up positive attitudes and progressing throughout the work day without being slowed down by negative co-workers.)"
God knows the value of a peaceful atmosphere, that is why we are given this exhortation, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
Interrogative Sentence: With such an exhortation, just what are Biblical truths that can enable us to have a pleasing nature? How can we realistically create an atmosphere of living that people love to be exposed to?
Transitional Sentence: A key Biblical truth to developing a pleasing character is to learn to listen. Proverbs 18:13 says, "He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame." The Bible also says, "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint and a man of understanding is even-tempered."
God warns us against rash talking, as well as protecting us from coming across as being rude and interruptive. (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 6, p. 273). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.) We make a mistake when we think that giving a quick answer shows others how sharp we are. We also deceive ourselves when we think that we must give answers right away. The Bible is saying that it is folly for a man to speak about an issue before he has gotten all the facts and has understanding of the circumstances. (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 995). Peabody: Hendrickson.; Smith, J. E. (1996). The wisdom literature and Psalms (Pr 18:13). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.) Communication skills are not just good interpersonal relations; they are actually moral issues of wisdom coming from prayerful understanding of the council of God's Word. Responding quickly without listening causes us to give our opinion, thus missing the opportunity to point people to seek the council of the Lord. (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (Pr 18:13). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.) It is actually stupid, because it cause us to miss out on hearing from the Lord and make right judgments.
John 7:24 says "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." "Too often we are slow to hear—we never really listen to the whole matter patiently—and swift to speak; and this gets us into trouble. It is wise to restrain the lips. A godly person will study to answer, but a fool will open his mouth and pour out foolishness. Potiphar did not listen to Joseph’s side of the story and committed a great crime because of it. Jesus and the Apostles were not permitted to tell their whole story; the verdicts were passed by their enemies before the cases were honestly tried.". (Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Pr 18:13). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books) "A man should get all the facts before giving his opinion. Otherwise he will be embarrassed when the full details are made known. There are two sides to every question: every divorce, every quarrel, etc. Don’t agree with a person if you have not heard the other person’s side." (MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 838). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.; Willmington, H. L. (1997). Willmington’s Bible handbook (p. 338). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)
Robert Herron wrote, "Good listening is like tuning in a radio station. For good results, you can listen to only one station at a time. Trying to listen to my wife while looking over an office report is like trying to receive two radio stations at the same time. I end up with distortion and frustration. Listening requires a choice of where I place my attention. To tune into my partner, I must first choose to put away all that will divide my attention. That might mean laying down the newspaper, moving away from the dishes in the sink, putting down the book I’m reading, setting aside my projects." (Robert W. Herron in Homemade, June, 1987 - Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press)
The Book of Proverbs has it right, "The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer..." (Proverbs 15:28)
Transitional Sentence: A congenial life has a listening heart and it gives without sparing. Proverbs 21:26b says, "...but the righteous give without sparing."
A person who touches the lives of others is a person who is ready to give time, strength and financially as the Lord provides. This person has a heart that is discerning, knowing when it is being taken advantage of, but sees real needs. They manage their time wisely so they can make time to help someone who truly needs it. They are able to find strength to help that person who needs it, even in the late hours of the night. They are willing to give joyfully without finding fault.
I remember over hearing a couple talk about a church in the South east part of the United Sates, this Body of Christ knew the joy of giving. There was a young couple in Nebraska, both veterinarians, they were trying to adopt a special needs baby. They made the trip to Memphis, Tennessee to pick up their new baby. They spent the day holding her, packed their bags, were heading their way out the hospital, when they were detained, due to some paper work that had not gone through.
Heart broken, they made their way to a church service at Bellevue Baptist. While attending the service they were asked what brought them to Tennessee. They explained there situation and dilemma. Immediately, Bellevue Baptist became a congenial atmosphere. They put the couple in a motel, provided meals, transportation and provided whatever this couple needed until the paper work was all in order. The family of God at Bellevue Baptist gave time, strength and finances for a full week. Then, they joyfully saw the young couple off to Nebraska, with their new baby.
Transitional Sentence: A congenial life gives without sparring and it prays without ceasing. Colossians 1:9 says, "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding."
The most congenial person I have ever known was my mother-in-law, Doris Stump. It has often been said of her, "Doris was woman of prayer." Doris would seldom be heard running others down, complaining or feeding a continuous atmosphere. I once heard a lady speak of Doris, "She is a woman who would assume as keep quite, and take the matter to the Lord in prayer and wait for Him to do whatever He chooses to do."
People take note of life that is prayerful. Before I was a Christian, I was attending a state championship football game. Doris was setting to my right, a man at the game suffered a serious heart attack. As the ambulance crew was attending to the patient, I notice, Doris, quietly closed her eyes, and did some serious praying. I was not a Christian, that act of faith powerfully laid down a foundation for my own prayer life, after I became a Christian.
Transitional Sentence: A congenial life prays and does not complain or argues. Philippians 2:14 - 16, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."
The person who does not complain or argue is the person people like to be around or work with. There is no greater trust an employer can have than having an employee who does not complain or argue. The family member who is enjoyable to be around is the family member who does not complain or argues over issues. The couple who is the happiest in life, is the couple who does not complain about each other to others, this couple chooses wisely their words toward each other. The married couple who people like to be around is the couple who cherishes each other, and lives out their adoration for all to see. The couple who always speaks well of each other is the couple who are admired by others. In the horse business, the trainer that is like is the one who does not complain about their customers.
The Apostle Paul was always concern about the life that was being lived by those who he had ministered the Word of God to. (Galatians 2:2) The greatest concern for those who preach and teach God's Word, "Are the people living out what is taught." Nothing more disheartening to Christian parents, their children live a life that is complaining and argumentative. In the work place people who find that they have been complained about, are hurt and they find comfort in being around co-workers who are known not to be complainers.
Transitional Sentence: A congenial life is one that is not complaining or argumentative and it trust without wavering. 1 Corinthians 13:7 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
The person who is looked to in the work place for training is the person who is patient, not prideful, not rude, is kind and truly wants to see others do well. The congenial person in the work place, is that person who is protective, trust others and perseveres in their responsibilities. The people who draw the hurting, the insecure and the frustrated are those who hold no record of wrongs. Congenial people do not let past failures keep people who are trying from open doors of opportunity.
Ever seen the TV commercial of the little boy who is washing his dad's convertible car with a water hose, with the hood down, the little boy is getting all the interior wet. Dad does not yell or tear down the little boy, but shows appreciation for his sons efforts - now that is a congenial act.
Transitional Sentence: A congenial life always trust and it makes promises without forgetting. Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
When I was a young man, I longed to learn how to train Arabian Halter Horses. So I called a young man, one of the best in the field. We made arrangements for me to go to his place in the Spring. When Spring came, I called to complete the final details. The phone rang, the secretary answered - I could hear the trainer in the background, telling the secretary to tell me, he was not available. My heart sank, I felt there was no one to help me.
Years later, I met another trainer who was very successful at training halter horses. He helped me purchase a book that I took home and read over and over again, which laid down the foundation to train and condition Arabian Halter Horses. His promise to help me was kept and it open many doors of opportunity to me for many years.
In Closing: Let the Holy Spirit examine your heart with these questions. Do you live a congenial lifestyle? Do you listen, give without sparing, pray with out ceasing, live without complaining or arguing, trust and keep promises?
In the early years of the Miss America Contest there was a Miss Congeniality. It was re-introduced in 2006, it is a quality of life award for a contestant's platform. (Wikipwedia) Miss Congeniality is a coveted title. She is known by her peers as the most friendly, helpful, genuine and outgoing woman in the pageant. Miss Congeniality is an award given by the hardest judges of all: The other contestants. Miss Congeniality is given the award because she pays more attention to others than she does herself. She gives her fellow contestants a hug when they need it. She is a confidence builder to the other contestants. She helps other contestant avoid disaster, making sure other contestants looks their best. She makes friends and gets to know the people around her. (eHow Culture & Society)
If you were being voted on today by those who observe your life, would you be voted in as someone who has a congenial life. Let us pray!