Among the many teachings of The Carpenter that we believers frequently ignore is one that is absolutely pivotal in sustaining good relationships. It is one that would prevent a great many disagreements from escalating into resentment and resentments from growing into grudges. Essentially it says, “Hey, look! If you have a problem with somebody or if you know somebody has a problem with you: go talk to that person.”
I have to admit that I occasionally find myself among that vast horde of professed Christians who fail to avail ourselves of obedience to that directive. I’ve seen the negative consequences of that failure in my own life, my own family, my own career and in my inadvertent snooping into the lives of many others.
So often it appears that we choose griping to many others rather than resolving the issue with the one. In the process, we not only keep ourselves stirred up, we also stir up many others. It starts with something like “You won’t believe what So-and-So did… or said… or didn’t do…” and then it goes on from there. Instead of clearing the air, it spreads the perceived stench. And the discontent. And the criticism. Instead of building or strengthening relationships, we drive the wedges deeper. Instead of gaining in understanding and respect for one another, we tear each other down and apart.
Now about now, you might be thinking, “Doc, you’re preaching kinda hard on this one, ain’t ya?” or perhaps you’re putting it to better phrasing than that. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret, when I get really passionate in my preaching, you can be pretty sure that I’m preaching to myself as much as anybody else. That is certainly the case here.
A colleague of mine said something a couple of months ago that has been bugging me, eating on me, tearing away inside of me ever since then. I finally got so fed up with my own miserable self that I went and talked to that colleague yesterday. When I described the conversation and recounted the words that were spoken, I could see a clear look of surprise on her face. “Oh, no,” she explained, “that was an emotional response you got from me then. That’s not at all what my true opinion is.”
I have to tell you that I sure felt a lot better about things. Pretty much immediately. And once again, felt that old conviction, “Now wouldn’t you have been a lot happier if you’d done this about two months ago?”
Well, you know, I reckon I would. Seems like I’m always better off when I put more effort into my practicing than what I put into my preaching.