We have been working on dinner manners at our home. A long ongoing and ongoing process with three kids. One thing we have been addressing is how to turn down an option politely.
Our wonderful preschool director, Paul Anne (LOVE HER!), told me she taught her kids to say, " I don't prefer this." That sounds much better than "Yuck! I don't like that!". Ideally, this tool would be used when invited over to a friend's home for dinner. Most of the time there are no "options" at our home. You are not allowed to opt out of certain foods because you just don't care for them. However, our five year old hasn't quite grasped this concept yet....
We were at home eating dinner the other night and five year old Sarah said, " Mommy, I don't deserve this."
I have to admit at first I thought she was thinking I was punishing her with my cooking! Then, I realized what happened....she mixed up prefer with deserve. Both words are a little tough for a small child to say.
Laughing a little to myself, I said, " Honey, do you mean you don't prefer this?" Nodding her little head, she tried again, " I don't defer this." (Too cute!)
This incident got me thinking about these two words....Prefer and Deserve.
To "prefer" means "to like it better or put it before something else".
To "deserve" means "to be worthy".
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Phil 2:3-4
What the Lord is saying here is to "prefer" others. Put others first. Isn't that what He did when He went to the cross? Didn't He put us before himself? He preferred us over Himself.
1 Cor 13: 5 says that love is not self-seeking. Love cares for others more than self.
My son, Joe, has misquoted scripture before (not on purpose, just misunderstanding) and said, "Do unto others as they do unto you." He left out some crucial words. It is actually, " Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It is the "Golden Rule", and it is taken from Luke 6:31
"And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise."
If you go up a little in Luke 6: 27-28, Jesus says the following:
"But I say to you who hear, 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.'"
Bless those who hurt you. Being real....that can be hard at times.
All these verses are saying basically the same principle:
Prefer others over yourself even if they do not deserve it.
Do to others what you would prefer they do to you. (And this is true even at times when what we would like to do is wack them upside the head!)
At those moments, we need to take a deep breath, smile, and choose to love.
Sometimes we have to make an effortful choice to prefer even when our flesh is screaming, "Yuck, I don't like that!"
Jesus preferred us when He went to the cross. He did not give us what we deserved.
God doesn't measure what He gives us by what we deserve. We would be in a world of hurt, it that were the case! We cannot do enough good to earn His saving Grace. Let's give others the same preference and give them grace also. Choose to prefer. Choose love.
The next time someone mistreats you or wrongs you and you feel like saying, "I don't prefer this" or "I don't deserve this!", think about how to respond as Christ would respond. Ask God how to respond in love and prefer others.
Our kids often get a small treat at the end of dinner if they eat everything, even those foods they "Do not prefer".
Remember, when you endure with love something you do not prefer or deserve, He promises your reward will be worth it. And it will be better than just a small treat!