I cleaned my kitchen yesterday. Every time I clean the kitchen, I go around with the cleaner and a paper towel and clean off the fingerprints. They're everywhere. On the windows. On the walls. On the light switches. But they're especially bad on the back door, which is mostly glass.
I could probably clean fingerprints off my back door twice a day, and the glass would still never be clean. My girls don't mean to leave fingerprints everywhere. They simply can't help it. When they come in from outside, their hands are dirty. When they touch the glass, it leaves a mark.
Those fingerprints are a sign that my girls have been through that door. Much as I dislike constantly cleaning the back door, I know that a day is coming when I will miss those fingerprints.
Just like my girls, we leave fingerprints all through life. Every time we touch a life by offering a hug, a compassionate ear or a moment of shared laughter, we leave our fingerprints on the other person.
Our actions toward others matter. We never know when something we've said or something we've done will change another person's day or even their life. That's why we need to be careful with our words and actions toward others. As easily as we can change someone's day for the good, we can also cause hurt and misery.
Ephesians 4:32 tells us to "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Offering up kindness and compassion to others, even those we don't necessarily get along with isn't just a nice thing to do, it's what God tells us to do.
Illustrate how our actions leave marks for your kids with a bowl of water and a clean window. Have your kids dip their fingers in the water, then shake off the excess. Then have them put their fingers on the window. It will leave fingerprints.
Talk about how those fingerprints are like our words and actions and the window is like one of our friends. Every time we say or do something to our friends, it leaves a mark on them. Unlike the fingerprints on the window, it's not a mark we can see. Our words and actions either make others feel good or bad. We want our words and action to leave marks that encourage and help other people no matter how their words and actions make us feel.
Every day, we leave fingerprints on others' lives. It's up to us to make sure the fingerprints we leave make a difference for good.