Christian Living

Give ’Em Heaven—Mentoring Letter October 2013

Author Greg Koukl Published on 09/30/2013

Are you giving a bit of Heaven to everyone you meet? Especially the people closest to you? Greg sets out a strategy to do just that.

“Give ’em Heaven.” That’s the way I close every broadcast. It’s good advice; that’s why I give it. Every time I do, though, I feel a tinge of guilt.

Is this something I do, I think to myself, or is it just a catchy slogan? Would others say this was true of me?

Sure, at public events I’m fine. But what about when there’s no professional motivation to put my best foot forward? What about with strangers I encounter? Or my friends and coworkers? Or my wife and children? Would they say they get a little bit of Heaven every time they get a little bit of me?

Sadly, I think not. Worse, the more intimate the relationship, the less Heaven in evidence, I’m afraid. Though it should be just the opposite, strangers get the best I have; those closest often get the scraps. Does this ever happen with you?

Paul said we should discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7), so I’m setting about to improve my habits. Here’s what I’ve been doing to guarantee I bring more Heaven to my relationships. You might find my plan helpful for you, too. For three specific groups—strangers, friends, and family—I have three different Scripture passages to light my way.

First, for strangers. On a flight back from the east coast last week I sat in front of a two-year-old boy destined, I now believe, to become a soccer superstar. For five full hours he banged me in the back like Beckham. It’s understandable in a kid his age, for sure. But he was also a screecher, rattling the cabin repeatedly with piercing, long-winded wails. His parents, apparently inured to the howling, did nothing.

It was really hard for me to keep from saying something stupid. Fortunately, I’d programmed my “to do” list to daily remind me of Proverbs 20:3: “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.”

How did I give that family (and the obnoxious kid) Heaven? I kept my mouth shut. Others on the plane did not. Eventually a shouting match erupted between the father who was “proud of my kid” and a passenger overwhelmed by the constant outbursts. The wisdom of Solomon, though, saved me from acting the fool.

Second, friends. Ever been wounded by a curt reply or condescending statement? This next verse has helped me ignore slights I might otherwise have reacted to: “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11).

When I’ve been snubbed or rebuffed—especially if I didn’t deserve it—the impulse to lash back in self defense is, for me, almost overwhelming. When I remind myself of this bit of wisdom, though (I have it memorized), it’s almost as if God is saying, “It’s okay Greg. If you let it slide, you’ll shine for Me.” As I let that truth sink in, my trepidation simply melts away.

Finally—and most importantly—family. Here’s my passage:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14–15).

Ouch. Complaining is one of my biggest flaws, especially around the house. When I grumble and grouse in my home, though, I’m not giving my family Heaven. I’m giving them grief. And it’s particularly vexing to the crew when the hardship comes from the captain who should be navigating the storms with his head above the fray.

I now try to be especially alert to the first things I say to others when I get up in the morning and to my behavior in the first 30 minutes after I get home from a hard day’s work. My mouth and my manners will set the tone for everything that follows. Sow to the wind, I’ll reap the whirlwind (that’s in the Bible, too). Sow peace, though, and there’s a better chance of harvesting harmony.

Here’s a bonus verse: “Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19). This saying guarantees more Heaven in any circumstance.

Three groups of people, three verses, three lessons. If you like, find different verses of your own to suit your particular needs. Paul offers a good summary in Rom. 12:18: “If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

A little discipline here will guarantee you’re actually giving ’em Heaven and not just talking about it. Practice these things and you’ll bring more Heaven to Earth. Ignore them and guarantee more trouble for you and those around you.

And be careful to save your best behavior for those you love the most.

“Give ’em Heaven” is at the heart of STR’s Ambassador approach, building you as a Christian so your message is not just credible, but compelling. Your generosity in giving makes that possible.