My daughter wrote a sentence down on a piece of paper the other day, brought it to me, and proceeded to ask of me what I’m going to ask of you: See the sentence above? Read it seven different times, changing the emphasis from one word to the next. For example:
Continue through until you’ve read it all seven times…
…Did you notice how putting the emphasis on different words in the sentence changed its implied meaning? The first time implied that you never said it, but someone else did. The second time, you were emphatic that you never said that…and maybe you’re even a little annoyed or upset that someone would say you would. The third time, you never said it…out loud, but you probably thought it…
Same sentence…different perspectives and implications.
This got me thinking about where I put the emphasis when I go through situations, when I hear something, what I dwell on in my thoughts, etc., and how that emphasis directs where my focus and perspective is. In the sentences above, it was on the bolded words, but maybe in thinking about other situations, it’s on the tone someone used when they said something, what wasn’t accomplished, how someone rudely pushed themselves in front of me, etc. Where we put the emphasis can tend to distract us from where our emphasis should be…at least, for me.
“Rejoice at all times.”1 Thessalonians 5:16 BSB
We tend to put the emphasis on “rejoice” in this verse.
Xaírō gives me the beautiful picture of God, leaning His head down toward His kiddos, willing to give us His undeserved approval, support, and kindness.
What if we were to put the emphasis on “all times” in the verse above? If someone gives you a nasty look, you remember God’s favor toward you and are glad; I think this would make it easier to respond in kindness. When someone says something snarky, not only remember God’s favor, but sit in it…experience it; this should cause you to be glad! When you’re afraid, remember God’s favor and be glad He’s caring for you! This is a hard thing to do all the time! I’ll admit; it’s not always on my radar, yet it’s something we’re commanded to do…and the emphasis can make a big difference on how we apply it to our lives.
To me, the big game changer is “being aware.” Have you ever gone to buy something new to you, thinking you’d never seen anyone have it before? Then, after you buy it, you see the same thing here, there, and everywhere?!? It’s not that these things suddenly appeared; it’s just that you’re more aware of them. What if we did that with God’s favor? We’d look for it; we’d notice it; we’d focus on it; and we’d remember it.
This is something I need to focus more on! In fact, while I’ve been working on this post, I’ve tried to do this more often…to be more aware of His favor. It’s honestly turned a frustrated perspective around several times for me, like an about face! Thank You, LORD, for bending over toward me, supporting me by teaching me through Your Spirit and Your word; Your kindness overwhelms me!
I think of the picture at the beginning of this post. The kiddo is looking off at something that has his gaze, but his mom is trying to redirect his attention…his focus. Sometimes, I’m so in the thick of things; I need someone to come along beside me and lovingly help me redirect my attention…my focus. When I focus on the negative, chances are, my perspective is negative. When I focus on the positive, like my God leaning toward me, willing to give me His approval, support, and kindness, my perspective will, most likely, change to be more positive, as it has many times this week.
Sigh. What a beautiful reminder as we head into this season! Remembering where to put the emphasis, where to find favor, and to encourage others to do the same is just so timely! Maybe this season can be filled with a little more Grace and Peace for us all rather than business and frustration toward those who can push buttons at gatherings!