My husband had a birthday recently. Since our birthdays are close together, we had gone on one big date in lieu of gifts. (Dates are precious when you have three children!). However, I still wanted his day to special. Earlier in the week, I made a birthday cake and prepared the custard for homemade ice cream. On his birthday, I was sure to get up early enough to make his breakfast and get the ice cream freezer going. I hummed happily as I thought about the homemade manicotti I would make later. My husband repeated an oft heard (but never true) statement: “You’re too good to me.” I retorted, “Maybe, but I enjoy doing things for you.” That’s when it hit me.
I WAS enjoying my plans for his special day, but I don’t act like I enjoy doing things for him all the time. Instead, I often wonder what he is going to do for me. “What if I treated every day like it was his birthday?” I thought. Not necessarily with cake and a gourmet meal, but by treating him special, by doing the little things he likes more often.
At first it sounded silly, pretending it was always his birthday. How exhausting! But then I remembered that while it can’t be his birthday all the time, every day does have the potential to be his last on earth. Or mine. Now, I don’t mean to be maudlin here, just Biblically realistic. The truth is, neither of us is promised a tomorrow.
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:13-17
I’ve always thought of this passage in reference to big plans, like vacations or jobs. But it seems to me that it can apply to our everyday relationships too. I can’t plan to be kind to my husband tomorrow because he may not be here. When I know the right thing to do - the right words to say when he’s had a bad day, the right reaction to hurtful words, the little things that make him happy – and I don’t do them, it is sin. And it is sin that I could regret for the rest of my life.
The same is true of all our relationships. Our children, our lost friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ, all are vapors just as we are. They aren’t promised another day. Let’s treat each moment as if we won’t get another chance to be kind. Or, if you prefer, pretend it’s everyone’s birthday every day.