And you now know why I do not use paper napkins. Keith would use half a dozen at every meal. That simply does not fit into my grocery budget. At least cloth napkins are washable and therefore reusable, and you don't have to worry about picking up the greasy white shreds that have snowed all over the floor after a meal of ribs or fried chicken.
From the very start of our marriage we have used cloth napkins, not just for company or formal occasions—all the time. Over the years I have amassed a stack of four or five dozen I suppose, maybe more. And it did not take long to learn one important thing about napkins, and here it is.
After eating with us a few times, a kind lady I knew wanted to help me out. So she bought a remnant of permanent press cloth, a pretty floral print with a beige background. It was actually a perfect match for my china. She carefully cut out 12 inch squares and hemmed them on all four sides. "You won't have to iron these," she said as she handed me a dozen beautiful cloth napkins.
I used those napkins for years just because they were a gift, but now that sweet lady is gone and so are those napkins. Unlike cotton, permanent press, at least in those days, did not soak up anything. If you had a small spill, they merely pushed the liquid around. If you had a smear of grease on your hands or face, it was still there after you wiped. They were beautiful to look at and no, I never did have to iron them, but useless when you needed them to do what napkins are supposed to do—absorb messes.
After forty years of standing in front of Bible classes and even larger groups of women, I can say that some women are cotton napkins and some are permanent press. I imagine any man who has taught Bible classes, or any preacher, can say the same thing. You can tell when someone is interested—they soak it up. Sometimes it's the note-taking; they can't seem to do it fast enough. Other times it's the look in the eyes, the posture, or even facial expressions. When you are planning a speech, you expect a laugh here, a gasp there, a groan or even the feminine variety of "Amen." You expect some sort of reaction if you have crafted your words carefully enough and chosen the scriptures that will suddenly slam the door on an attitude or behavior that needs changing. When you get none of that, either you don't know what you are doing after all, or no one is paying good enough attention.
Every time you attend one of these functions, every time you hear a sermon or sit in a Bible class, and every time you open your Bible for some real Bible study, it should change you. At first the changes will be big. You are new to this Christian business so you have a ways to go and the alterations should be noticeable to those who know you best. Then as you mature spiritually, the changes will become smaller—maybe an attitude adjustment, maybe just a change in private behavior that few people will see, but a change nevertheless. If that does not happen, you have become a permanent press napkin. You might look good on the outside. You might even match the "china" around you on Sunday mornings. But instead of soaking up the Word, the water of life, you will just be pushing it aside out of your way.
Even one permanent press napkin in the audience is too many. Check your label today and see what you are made of.
And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Col 3:10