Did He Just say, “Bonjour” ?

You can build or destroy with that wiggly thing that lives in your mouth.


I got a surprise the other morning as I opened the shutters on our ground-floor apartment in Saint Maur des Fossés, France—Saint Maur where it rains so much that my toes are starting to grow feathers, where it rains so much that my burps sound like, “croak, ribbit,” where it’s so gray outside that a start on a good tan is any color darker than milk—that Saint Maur in case you were wondering.

Anyway, where was I? You made me forget … oh, yes, I was opening the shutters at the same time the garbage men passed to collect the garbage. As I peered into the gray, one of them looked my direction and said, “Good day.” It surprised me so much that I almost forgot to answer.

The fellow must have been from Africa or the French Antilles because here you don’t usually greet people you don’t know. There’s too many of them I guess.

Forgetting to greet people would never have worked in the village where I grew up. There, if you didn’t say something are at least nod, you were considered an insufferable snob. When someone passed by you in their car coming from the opposite direction, you were supposed to raise your index finger from the steering wheel to acknowledge him. Kind of a lazy wave.

We prided ourselves on our friendliness and if you weren’t sociable folks could get awfully unfriendly.

Here I still try to nod and say “bonjour” sometimes, but it’s the voice of one crying in the wilderness. People probably think, “What’s wrong with that guy?“

I’ve got to admit, though. That fellow collecting the garbage did me a lot of good with his little, “Bonjour.”

We don’t realize how powerful our words are and sometimes just one can cheer another person up—or tear his heart out.

Listen to this truth: “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

(Proverbs 18:20, 21, NIV) Hey, Eternal God said that. I’m just quoting Him.

Have you ever stopped to listen to yourself? I mean put on your earphones and just be amazed at what comes out of your mouth. You can make people around you live with your words or you kill them. So, hmmm, your kids, are you killing them or building them? Your wife? Your husband? Your boss? Your pastor? Your friend in Christ? Yourself?

Sometimes those words need to stimulate me to do better. Mama was a pro: “David, get out of bed!” Me: “Okay.” A few minutes later: “David, you better get out of that bed!” Me: “Yes, m’aam.” Usually you could stretch it out to three but after that she was dangerous. I needed her “encouragement” to stimulate me to do something in life besides being a mattress tester.

But, even when we’ve got to criticize, we need to make sure it’s really for the other person’s good and that we do it only because we love them. And, our encouragements and affirmations should be five times more numerous than our “positive criticism.”

I started to like writing when Miss Mary Dowdle complimented me on something I wrote in junior high. Nearly 50 years later, I still remember at least three times she encouraged me.

Words are powerful. Use them correctly. If you want to really get into this subject read the “Mouth Chapter” of the Bible, Proverbs 10 and pay attention to how to use your words. Excellent students might also add Proverbs 12:18, 25 plus the rest of Proverbs 19 to see how God wants your tongue to waggle.

Sorry if I’ve ranted on a bit. It’s funny how a little “bonjour” can inspire you.

Hum …
« If you judge a fish on his ability to climb a tree, he will pass his whole life thinking he is stupid. » (Albert Einstein)

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