Many of us have heard the statement “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” but, how many of us actually know what this means? By mere common sense we all know that honey is much more appetizing than vinegar. Honey is sweet and goes very well with our biscuits, while the majority of us use vinegar for harsh projects such as cleaning grease or our coffee pots, so what should this statement tell us when we hear our grandmothers repeatedly recite this line, time after time, when she sees us shove our brothers or take our sisters’ favorite toys?
It is obviously a way of suggesting we take on the same characteristics of honey rather than those of vinegar. We should be sweet, and our attitude should be appetizing in a way that people would want us to be included in the tea that is their life. Honey is also known to be recommended in aiding in increasing antioxidant levels, healing, and in providing several minerals and vitamins to the body. Maybe Grandma knew exactly what she was suggesting.
The Bible teaches us this same basic principle, yet instead of telling us to “be like honey” it simply tells us to be kind. Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” and again in Luke 6:35 reads “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” It is also found in 1 Corinthians 13 as a definition of love. Isn’t the objective becoming clearer?
After performing an act of kindness, you feel “good about yourself” so much that you can’t help but to continue to help others and do kind things for them. Then that person feels better about themselves and they want to do something kind for someone else. It almost starts a domino effect of kindness going from one person to another. But when someone does something unkind towards us, it has the same effect. We do something unkind to another person who will in turn become angry and do the same to the next person who comes along.
Not only will it make everyone unhappy, it will cause people to not enjoy your company. We will be invited to fewer places and have fewer friends because we are so unkind that no one will want to be around us, this is the harsh, unattractive odor that vinegar can spread. It is extremely unappealing and not a way to attract anyone to God’s Word.
Matthew 5:16 says “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may ??see your good works, and ??glorify your Father who is in heaven.” We can use this as an example of how God would want us to show that we are Christians to those who do not even know us. We live in a society that is only concerned with looking out for themselves, if we carry that same attitude and only look out for the best interest of ourselves, how does that make us any different from the world? How would we be making a life for Christ if we have the same selfish ambition the rest of the world bears?
So, does the statement of “catching more flies with honey than vinegar” make a little more sense now? We understand Grandma is not giving us a recipe for insect repellant, but is teaching us a principle that God has instructed. Many would be surprised to see the health benefits of not only receiving kindness but also of giving kindness to others. Pretty soon we reach a point where we have given so much kindness and received so much that the unkindness of another will not affect us at all. Grandma was a very smart woman and must have known this Biblical attitude pretty well. Are you honey or vinegar?
By Wanda Gail Coker
Wanda Gail and her husband, James, are recent graduates of Bear Valley Bible institute of Denver. They currently reside in Woodland Park, CO where James is serving a pulpit minister at the Woodland Park Church of Christ. They have been married for 8 years and have three boys: Caleb, Mason and Jacob.