Scriptural Social Etiquette Crosses Culture Seamlessly

Day 29, DATE

Where I live the date today is Karthik 13, 2073. So, I guess you could say I’m a time-traveler. Operating on a totally different calendar system certainly poses its challenges. Honestly, I hardly EVER know what the local date is unless I owe someone money. Even then, they usually have to remind me.

For convenience sake, the English standard calendar is used as well, but if I ask a friend what the date is, they can rarely tell me the one I’m hoping to hear. Head scratches and lots of thinking later, we usually come up with the wrong date.

I miss birthdays and special events because I’m stuck in my American ways of measuring time. It’s always on my to-do list to learn all the names of the months and hang up the calendar and actually reference it (not just let my kids take it down and color on it). It grieves me that such an important piece of their culture is totally lost on me just like so many other things.

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Proof that I try!

In culture, there are TONS of obstacles to living the Golden Rule because the people I wish to serve come from totally different backgrounds than me. They use a different calendar, celebrate different holidays, eat different food, and are offended by things I seem to just do naturally. I try to treat others the way I want to be treated and find out they don’t want to be treated like I do at all!

This isn’t totally specific to the foreign field, but it is certainly amplified here. Each person we encounter comes from a culture all their own influenced by their family dynamics, education, peers, etc. Sometimes, we will treat others the way we want to be treated and we will just fall flat. For instance, “Hey, happy birthday” (according to the English calendar) is met with “Gee, thanks, it was two weeks ago.”

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Because these kinds of things frustrate me to no end, I have to remind myself of the ways I am instructed to treat others with no clause for cultural differences.

  • And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
  •  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; (Romans 12:10).
  •  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
  • Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (James 1:19).

You and I both know that there are MANY more Scriptures about how to live for the benefit of others and the glory of God. But it’s day 29, and I am running out of steam, friends! I hope you’ll share some below.

And if you need me, I’ll be living in the year 2073.

What cultural obstacles have you run into while living the Golden Rule?
What Scriptures speak to you about how to love others well?

Talk to me in the comment section!

The Knife that Cuts and the Knife that Sharpens

Day 25, SIGN

We hung our sign in front of our soon-to-be church-plant this week. We knew this would make us vulnerable to questions and criticism around town. It also made us vulnerable to both the judgment and encouragement of others in our city and all around the world thanks to modern technology.

Those who have partnered with us back in America were thrilled to see the work moving forward and eager to encourage us in it. The simple photo my husband published on social media got quite a lot of love for someone who rarely uses any Facebook features.

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One of the greatest ways we can live the Golden Rule in missional living is to affirm and encourage other light-bearers in their respective ministries. Missionaries on the foreign field. Moms in the trenches of toddlerhood or teenage years. Our pastors and their families. Your children’s Sunday School teacher and prayer-warrior Great Aunt.

Learn about their ministries and remember the names and faces of their mission field. Find ways to encourage them and get involved in their gospel work. You may be swamped in your own service, but it just takes a moment to share a word of encouragement or lend a helping hand.

Set aside differences and choose to see the potential of the mission and the heart of the kingdom worker who toils. Remember that mission work looks different to different people in each stage of life and set of circumstances. Everyone may not do ministry like we would do it, but we must trust they will follow as the Lord leads and be faithful to cheer them on as they do.

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Consider the current issues, transitions, and decisions of the gospel worker. At these times, the criticism cuts the flesh like the sharpest of knives, but words of encouragement put the sharp knife to better work. The kind that crafts into tools fit for kingdom work and builds confidence in the Hands at work in their lives and ministry.

I want to be that kind of sharpening tool for those who work for the Lord. We need each other to get it done.

Who can you encourage in their gospel work today?
I want to hear about your people and your ideas.

Talk to me in the comment section!