Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:15-20

I took my boys to Disney World one summer day and I put a little fun money in their pocket to spend as they desired. As usual they were walking 20 yards ahead of their parents, social distancing themselves from those less cool. As one of the boys walked along a $10 bill fell from his pocket and a man swooped in between us and snatched it up. I confronted him with the fact that it belonged to my son and that I had seen the whole thing. He simply denied it and there was little I could do. My son began to cry and begged for the return of his treasure, but the man only laughed at him. It spoiled the whole day for us all. The rest of the day my son was angry and disappointed. The man put a dark cloud over my little boy’s sun that day, and the shadow it cast was with him for a long time.

How easy it is to put a cloud over someone’s sun, to make some life dark that might have been bright! It may seem only a little thing, but sometimes a little cloud can leave a huge shadow. We may not see either the cloud or the shadow, but the heart that is darkened both sees it and feels it. How many times can people, by unkind words or actions, cloud another’s sky!

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. – Romans 14:7

 There is a circle of influence about our lives that affects every other life that we touch. We brighten or darken the lives around us. We lighten or make heavier the burdens of others. Every unkind word or look puts a shadow on some life. Every slighting remark, every sarcastic fling, every contemptuous smile, puts a cloud over somebody’s sun. Lack of appreciation has darkened many a life. How much better it would be to take away the clouds, to banish the gloom! You can do this just as easily as you can bring clouds. It is just as easy to speak kind words as to speak unkind ones, and you will feel much better over it yourself. When people please you, let them know it. When people do well, or even when they try to do well and fail, you can show that you appreciate their efforts. You can be cheerful and courteous and kind. That will make a little sunshine for others. There are enough clouds of life in this world of sorrow. Be a sunshine-bearer. Drop a little good cheer into every life you touch. No matter what you are by nature, you can form the habit of being cheerful and encouraging. Even when you have heavy burdens yourself, you can be encouraging and helpful to others.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:29-32