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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 01/10/18

Greet with Grace

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STORY: Swept Off His Feet!

I’ll never forget the day my husband Russ was nearly swept off his feet, and it wasn’t by me! I enjoyed being a spectator, though. And still chuckle mightily as I think of that day. You see, Russ has never been one for public displays of affection, and for that matter, isn’t much for hugging anyone other than me. But he realizes the importance of showing he cares for others, so he’s loosened up over the years and learned the art of the side hug. He also has a sizeable amount of personal space surrounding him like an invisible box. I appreciate that about him—it means he’s always on guard against anything that might be misconstrued as inappropriate physical behavior.

But then that day came—the day he was almost swept off his feet. Russ was already in an uncomfortable situation—attending a writers’ conference with me for the first time. I had been on faculty there several years, so it was like old home week for me. Not so with Russ. He was out of his element. We parked the car and before we even made it to the check-in desk, I found a carload of women I knew. We exchanged hugs. One of the gals is a true sister-friend to me, and our tight embrace represented the affection we carry in our hearts for each other. She broke away from our hug and ran to greet Russ—the first time they met each other. Robin had prayed for us so often she felt as if she knew him. I’m convinced at that moment, Robin could have been a star football player. She locked eyes on the target, ran with fierce energy his way, and almost plowed him over as she hugged him.

The look on Russ’ face was priceless. Shock. Who was this strange woman and what was she doing? What had he gotten himself into? Robin and I both realized his level of discomfort. At the same moment, as she let go of her death-grip on him, I explained to him that this was Robin, my sweet friend who had been praying for us during our difficult year. Then all was okay once again, and we made our way to check in. That wasn’t the only embrace of the conference. Many writers greeted Russ as if they had known him forever—the warm welcome soon melted away any hesitancy regarding his newness to the conference. He was part of the family. Hearty greetings can certainly pave the way for a new level of peace—once you get past the kapow impact of that first hello!

STUDY: “Othering” through our Greetings and Forgiveness

Greet

Greet each other with a sacred kiss. All the churches of Christ send you their greetings. (Romans 16:16 NLT)

  • The custom of the time was to greet with a kiss. What might be a current way we greet others?
  • How can you bring sacredness to your greetings?

All the brothers and sisters here send greetings to you. Greet each other with a sacred kiss. (1 Corinthians 16:20 NLT)

  • Why is it so special to send and receive greetings from other Christ-followers?
  • What ways do you keep in touch with other believers in your church? In your community? Outside your area?

 Greet each other with a sacred kiss. (2 Corinthians 13:12 NLT)

  • When you say “hello” to others, how can you bring Christ into the interaction?
  • Sacred greetings connect us at the heart. Can you think of a time you felt welcome because of how someone greeted you?

Greet each other with a kiss of love. Peace be with all of you who are in Christ. (1 Peter 5:14 NLT)

  • The first sentence in this verse discusses greeting each other, but this time instead of a sacred or holy kiss, it’s called a “kiss of love.” What does love have to do with greeting one another?
  • It’s interesting that the second sentence of this verse segues from greeting each other in love to being at peace. How does being “in Christ” affect our ability to tap in to God’s peace?

Forgiveness

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

  • The final verses we’re examining in Scripture for our “othering” word study have to do with forgiveness. What are the three “be” verb statements in this passage?
  • What is the “othering” phrase here?
  • How are we to forgive one another?

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (Colossians 3:13 NLT)

  • How can we deal with the flaws of others?
  • How can we deal with others who have wronged us?
  • What is the reminder when it comes to forgiveness? It’s almost as if Paul could hear the readers saying, “But I don’t feel like forgiving that person.” So Paul reminds them, essentially, “Who are we to withhold forgiveness, when God has forgiven us of so much?”

STEPS: The Greeting and Grace of “Othering”

  1. Greet others at church. Allow time before and after the service to fellowship with other people. Look for someone who seems disconnected, and make them feel at home.
  2. Greet others in the community. Bring Christ into your dealings, even if you don’t always mention His name, they can still witness your Christ-infused peace and joy.
  3. Forgive others who wrong you. Keep in mind how flawed we all are, and give them the benefit of grace despite how much they’ve hurt you. Forgiveness doesn’t condone what they’ve done or say it’s okay, it’s merely saying you release them for God to deal with, rather than keeping an account for their wrongdoing. It clears that account, by forgiving the debt.

Copyright © 2018 Kathy Carlton Willis. Used by permission.

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