2 Corinthians 13:12 – Greet one another with a holy kiss. (NIV)
There are many ways that we greet other people, but perhaps this biblical greeting is not the most usual!
A common way of greeting another person is to inquire about their physical state. Equally important, however, is their mental or emotional state. Perhaps the biblical greeting is based upon the most important aspect: the spiritual state of the other person.
"Hello" with a handshake is customary, but probably the most widely-used greeting is "How are you?" or variations thereof, such as "How is it going?" or "How are you feeling?"
Recently, I have been having some physical challenges. Fortunately, they do not show, but I am frequently asked how I am. I have experimented with responses to this greeting, such as making a comment about another less difficult subject — the weather, for example. In the majority of cases, the questioner has followed on with some comment about the state of the weather.
It has led me to believe that if we are asking this question, we should be sincere, sensitive, and most importantly, supportive.
Firstly, if the question, "How are you?" is insincere, we could well be doing more harm than good. Willingness to divert the conversation indicates that we are not sincere. Sometimes, the words used in response depend upon how the question is asked.
Secondly, we should be sensitive. Half a century ago, I joined a major corporation. My first manager was a little younger than I was, but he was very sensitive. In his first evaluation of my performance, he wrote, "He makes mistakes, but he knows how to correct them. He will go a long way with our company."
What I remember the most, however, was the day that he telephoned me to inquire as to how a project was going. I replied "fine". His response was "That bad, eh!"
We had developed such a good working relationship that he immediately moved past my word in response to recognize the real meaning. He was especially sensitive, and I was particularly appreciative of his sensitivity.
Probably the most important factor is the need to be supportive, if at all possible.
Recently, a neighbour asked me, "How are you?" and I gave an innocuous reply. The questioner persisted and pushed for a more detailed response. Before I could elaborate, the questioner said, "I really want to know. You should know that I pray for you every day!"
I responded, expressing sincere thanks for her prayers. I would not have considered this person a particularly religious person, but she certainly was sincere and sensitive, but especially supportive.
Greeting others is something that we do many times in a day. The challenge that we each have is to turn a common interaction into a meaningful one that is sincere, sensitive, and supportive, especially when it relates to another's physical, mental, and spiritual health. Perhaps it might even be appropriate to seal it with a kiss!
Prayer: Dear Father, help us to follow the example that Jesus has given us in the everyday things of life. May we show Your love to others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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