Devotional: Apples or Oranges?

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Apples or Oranges? *

Brandon Knight, Ph.D.
Asst. Professor of Communication
William Carey University

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25: 11; ESV)

In one of Jesus’ first acts of ministry, he meets a man struck with leprosy (Matthew 8:1-4). Lepers were supposed to remain outside the city gates but not this one—the law be damned, literally. He heard about Jesus’ healing powers and his bold faith propelled him forward. He approaches Jesus, on his knees, with one request: Make me clean.

It’s easy to overlook Jesus’ perfectly “fitting” response to the leper. Jesus speaks volumes before uttering a single word as he reaches out his hand to touch the leper. Jesus shows a willingness to identify with the leper’s social uncleanliness as he simultaneously heals his physical ailment: “I am willing,” says Jesus. “Be clean” (Matthew 8:3, NIV).

Jesus’ response was beautiful and demonstrates a type of artistry in approaching others in word and deed that we seldom see today. Proverbs 25:11 speaks of rare, sacred acts of communication that stand out from the crowd. Apples, like other fruits in biblical times, were used for artwork in decorative carvings and construction. Gold apples were a rarity and added much to the majesty of the artwork. The same can be said for a skilled and fitting word to another person in need.

Our world is one of competition. Strangely, we can turn ministry into moments of competition as well. As in all competitions, there are winners and losers. Think for a moment about the way many Christians go about defending the faith. We attempt to win the debate at all costs and can sound like robots when talking about God. We end up neglecting the important questions and needs of the person that God has placed in front of us. The result? Our words fall to the ground. Our apples turn into oranges.

Many have questions and needs that require a thoughtful, fitting, and grace-filled response. Like apples of gold in a setting of silver, Christians have been called to “shine as stars in the sky” (Phi. 2:15, NIV). How else can we do this but by giving a fitting word to those longing for hope.

So, what will it be: apples or oranges?

Reflection: Do you try to win arguments when speaking to others about God? Would others say about their interactions with you when talking about God? Do you actually know what the needs, struggles, and questions are of those around you?

Today’s Challenge: During your next conversation about God, request that the other person share their biggest hurts and hang-ups with belief in God, knowing that before you can say anything “fitting,” you must know where they stand. You may discover that they are dealing with one of your past or current struggles.

* This devotional is included in a book of 365 devotionals on Christianity and Communication Studies, forthcoming, from Integratio Press. All Rights Reserved.

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