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  • Writer's pictureHeather Thomas Van Deren

A Man of Few Words & Doin' Unto Others - by guest author Mike Owens

Uncle Belton was a man of few words. He didn't say a lot; but when he spoke, everyone listened. We were all poor back then; but we didn't know it 'cause everyone else was poor, too. One fall, one of the neighbors took ill and wasn't able to get in the field to harvest his crop of cotton. Uncle Belton came to our cotton patch in the truck and motioned for the older boys and girls and for the "main hands". They loaded up and stayed gone for the rest of the day. Matter of fact, they were pretty scarce for that whole week. Come to find out, they had gathered that man's cotton crop and taken it to the gin for him. There was nothin' said about it. It was treated like a common thing and something that you just "did" and didn't need to talk about it. Momma said, "Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken." She also said, "What is valuable is not WHAT we have in our lives, but WHO we have in our lives." I'm pretty sure she was talkin' 'bout Jesus.

I would have never found out where they went if I hadn't "overheard" Shelby Jean mention it to her boyfriend one Sunday evening while they were sittin' in the swing on the front porch. Shelby Jean said, "He'd a done the same thang fer us if the shoe was on the other foot!" I didn't understand "the shoe on the other foot" comment; but I did understand the first part. I heard some other stuff that they said to each other that day, too; but I better not repeat it here. Betty, Paulette and I were right around the corner and they never knew we were there. We wanted to learn how to "court". We learned a lot that day; but when we saw them kissin', we ran away. That made me feel sick, like you feel right before you throw up.

We live in a world today which tries to say too much with too little. Consequently, few listen. You didn't interrupt back then. You took turns talkin' and you didn't butt in on anyone, either. Mother would say, "use your manners", and if you didn't, you'd get "the look" or "the signal" to leave the room. I'd still rather SEE a sermon than hear one any day. "If you see a brother or sister who is hungry and you say to them, 'be ye warmed and filled', notwithstanding, you give them not the things which they need, what does it profit?" (James 2:16) "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Next time you're pickin' cotton (or doin' anything, really), remember that actions speak louder than words. And Jesus likes that.

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