Once upon a time, in a small town in East Texas, there lived a very righteous and upstanding family: the Needlenoses.
Everyone knew the Needlenose family was righteous and upstanding because every Sunday, they were at the big Baptist church downtown. And not only was the righteous and upstanding Needlenose family at church, they were front and center at church….sitting in a nice neat row in their pew… every single Sunday.
Because they were so righteous and upstanding, the Needlenose family followed ALL the rules.
The most important rule of all, of course, being, “Thou shalt attend a big Baptist church every single Sunday.” There were other lesser rules, of course, most of them involving church attendance in one way or another (“Men shalt wear a suit and tie to church, and women shalt never wear pants, and neither shalt deviate from the dress code,” and the like), but it would take more trees than there are in all the rainforests to print a volume of encyclopedias large enough to contain all of the rules the Needlenoses were so careful to follow so thoroughly.
“Yes,” everyone thought, “that Needlenose family sure is righteous and upstanding… one must only check their pew on Sunday morning to know for sure.”
And the whole town was filled with admiration for the Needlenose family, who NEVER missed church, and NEVER broke the rules.
And out of the whole Needlenose family, the most righteous and upstanding of them all was Mother Needlenose. Everyone knew she was the most righteous and upstanding of them all because of the holy and pious way she glared her disapproval at the sinners through her monacle, down past her long nose, that struck fear and trembling into their very souls.
Of all the character qualities spoken of in the Bible, Disapproval was Mother Needlenose’s favorite. In fact, Mother Needlenose considered Disapproval to be her spiritual gift and because Disapproval was so very ingrained into her character, she had absolutely no need nor room in her personality for Joy, Peace, Patience, much less Love or Kindness, or any of those other nonsensical, non-essential character qualities.
And it was because of her disapproval of all things and all people that caused those who knew her to stand in amazement at Mother Needlenose’s righteousness, because everyone knows that the most righteous and upstanding children of the Lord are the most disapproving, because the truly righteous and upstanding cannot tolerate those who break the Rules, or even think of breaking the Rules.
To prove how upstanding and righteous she was, Mother Needlenose didn’t limit her disapproval only to sinners. No, her disapproval was evenly distributed amongst Jews and Gentiles, saints and sinners, and under the piercing glare of her monacle, no one was sinless enough to avoid Mother Needlenose’s stern disapproval.
It was, after all, her spiritual gift.
The church itself often came under Mother Needlenose’s scrutiny, as she disapproved of the WMU having an auction ~ yes, an auction! ~ to raise money for missions, because auctions are gambling, and Mother Needlenose did NOT approve of gambling. And she let the WMU know about it.
She disapproved of a young bride being allowed to have a bottle of sparkling cider in the church in her going-away picnic basket, because the bottle looked like a champagne bottle, and whether or not it was actually an alcoholic beverage was irrelevant, because Mother Needlenose disapproved of even the appearance of something as evil as alcohol. And she let the young bride know about it.
However, as helpful as her spiritual gift of Disapproval was within the church, she reserved the full force of her gift of Disapproval for the edification and building up of her husband and children, and eventually the spouses of her children.
To be continued.