Several years ago when I was a young boy, we lived in Pueblo, Colorado. My father started a church there, and the people of that church were good people. I fondly remember our family canvassing the streets for the first Sunday, and then seeing the LORD bless that church. Most of the people in that church were brand new Christians and not transfers from other churches.
A couple of the fine young Christians in that church were Paul and Marbella Baca. For some reason, they took a liking to me and enjoyed taking me to do activities with them. One day, he and his wife asked my parents if they could take me fishing, and my parents agreed to let me go. This may have been my first fishing expenditure of my young life.
The day that they picked me up to go fishing was an abnormally cold day. They didn’t want to let me down, so we continued with the plans to enjoy the day of fishing. When we got to the lake and started fishing, the cold air was biting, and the clothes I had on were not warm enough for the cold air in those Colorado Mountains. Mrs. Baca went to their trailer to see if she had any hot chocolate she could make to help keep me warm. Unfortunately, she had run out of hot chocolate on their previous fishing trip. The only thing she had to give me was a cup of hot coffee. I had never tasted coffee before, so she insisted I drink some so that I could stay warm. To make the coffee palatable for a young boy, she added cream and a lot of sugar so that I wouldn’t have to choke down the bitter taste of plain coffee. The sugar she added made something that was bitter enjoyable to a young boy.
Life is filled with relationships. You have family relationships, work relationships, church relationships, relative relationships, neighbor relationships, casual relationships, and a marital relationship. Each of these relationships are often affected by the words we say or write. If someone was to look at what has destroyed relationships, you could probably trace most of the problems back to words. Your enjoyment of life will truly be determined by your relationships with God and man.
Relationships are very much like the cup of coffee I had when I was a boy, if you added some sugar to them, you would find that the bitter parts of a relationship could be averted and avoided. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Words that cause grief to a relationship could be avoided if you would add a little sugar to your conversations and life.
The power of words must never be underestimated. It was through God’s Word that this world was created. It was the words of a few ladies that caused jealousy to creep up in the heart of King Saul. If a person would just add a little sugar in their conversations and treatment of others, I believe the spirit of hate and wrath would be turned away. Let me give you some suggestions on how to add some sugar to your relationships.
1. Be more ready to find the positive than the negative.
By nature, I believe most of us are prone to find negative in everything. I believe this is why God says in Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” You will notice that this whole list is an encouragement for the Christian to look for the positive.
Let me ask you, when is the last time you pointed out the positive in your relationships? Do you always see the negative about every change your boss makes? Are you grieving your pastor because you don’t like some changes he has made that have nothing to do with Scripture? Do you always point out the negative of your spouse instead of seeing the positive? Are you constantly riding the negative qualities of your children instead of encouraging their positive ones? You are creating an antagonistic spirit in your relationships when the first thing you do is point out negative with everything someone does. You might find that others will want to work with you more readily if you are not so negative about everything. If you are not careful, you will drive people to despise any correspondence they get from you because it is always negative. How about adding some sugar by finding the positive in your relationships and projects you do.
2. Regularly say, “Thank you.”
One of the easiest ways to add sugar to life is to be grateful to those who do something for you. God reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” You would find that your spouse would appreciate doing more things for you if you learned to thank them for the small and regular things they do. Men, thanking your wife for the meal she cooked or for getting your clothes ready each day would help encourage her. Ladies, thanking your husband for working hard to pay the bills and to make sure you have groceries and a house to live in would greatly encourage him. Many people could have a better relationship with their boss if they learned to see the positive in their changes instead of always giving their mind about what they dislike. Don’t be the individual who is ungrateful. A simple, “Thank you,” is like adding sugar to keep any relationship from becoming bitter.
3. Send kind notes of appreciation.
Proverbs 25:25 says, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” One thing that always encourages me is when I get a note from someone showing their appreciation for my investment of time in their life. It always causes me to want to help them more the next time I see them. You could add sugar to life’s relationships by taking the time to write a note of appreciation to those who are investing in your life.
Let me ask, when is the last time you sent your pastor a note of appreciation for the sermons he preaches? When is the last time you wrote a note of appreciation to your boss or employer and thanked them for keeping you busy so that you can pay your bills? I know, we live in times when we think that is what they are supposed to do, but a note from you would certainly brighten their day as they strive to be sure they have the income to give you a paycheck every week.
Even a spouse should find times to leave notes of appreciation. I don’t mind the special days throughout the year when we show gratitude to the ones we love; however, you are hurting your relationship if that is the only time you show your appreciation. Don’t let the days you are “supposed” to show your appreciation be the only times when you write your loved one a note to thank them for what they do. You might find that a note of appreciation could be the sugar that calms the tension in your relationship.
4. Take the immediate blame for any misunderstanding.
One of the quickest ways to add sugar to your relationships is to take the blame for the wrong instead of quickly blaming someone else. Matthew 7:3 asks, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” God is teaching us that it is always better to look at yourself before you start blaming another. In fact, God shows just how strongly He feels about this when he responds in Matthew 7:5 by saying, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Be careful about always assuming that the other person did wrong. For instance, instead of saying, “Where did you move…”, why not say, “I’m not sure where I misplaced…, can you help me find it?” Do you see the difference in this response? One response is accusatory while the other is placing the blame on yourself and asking for their help. If the other person did move something, they will more readily say where they put it if you take the blame. You can add sugar to your relationships if you would be quick to take the blame for misunderstandings.
5. Send small gifts of appreciation.
Proverbs 21:14 says, “A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.”Notice how the gift causes the anger to subside. Look at what Proverbs 19:6 says, “Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.” Again, a person who gives gifts will find people to be more friendly with them.
You don’t have to have a lot of money or send expensive gifts to add a little sugar to relationships. It is not how much a person paid for a gift that really matters, but it is the thought that makes that gift valuable. When people do things for you, especially on a volunteer basis, you would be wise to show your appreciation by giving them a small gift.
My wife is an expert in this area. She is in charge of our church nursery. Our church nursery is staffed by volunteers, including my wife. However, once or twice a year my wife shows her appreciation to those ladies with a small gift. It is amazing how that small gift encourages those great ladies to continue giving their best effort to filling their time slot on the monthly schedule. It’s just a little gift, but that little gift goes a long way.
You could do the same for those who help you. Just a little gift that shows your appreciation may cause others to want to please you more often. If you take those who help you for granted, you may one day be doing the task alone if you don’t learn to send a small gift of appreciation. That gift may not equal the time they have invested, but the gift is like a spoonful of sugar that helps the task to be more enjoyable.
My pastor for many years used to say, “Be good to everyone, because everyone is having a tough time.” One way you could make those tough times easier for others to endure is if you added some sugar to their life. Remember, life is about relationships, and the more you add sugar to those relationships, the more you will add to their enjoyment.