How We React
Syndicated columnist Sidney Harris tells of going with a friend to a newspaper stand. The friend bought a newspaper. The vendor was abrupt, gruff, and the friend responded in kindness. Harris was perplexed and said, “Is he always so unkind?” “Yes.” ““Do you always reply like that?” “Yes.” “Why?” “I cant determine how he will act, but I can determine how I will react.”
An Insult is Like Mud
What dangerous fires of hatred are kindled by words spoken in haste! Thats why taking time to think about what we should say is so important. Restraint can bring peace to many an ugly situation, as is illustrated by this story:
An old Englishman, known as Father Graham in his village, was greatly loved because of his positive influence. One day an angry young man who had just been badly insulted came to see Father Graham. As he explained the situation, he said he was on his way to demand an apology from the one who had wronged him. “My dear boy,” Father Graham said, “take a word of advice from an old man who loves peace. An insult is like mud; it will brush off better when it is dry. Wait a little, till he and you are both cool, and the problem will be easily solved. If you go now, you will only quarrel.” The young man heeded the wise advice, and soon he was able to go to the other person and resolve the issue.
How often the tongue pours fuel on a fire that would go out if left alone! Solomon said, “Do not be rash with your mouth,...let your words be few” (Eccl. 5:2). And hymnwriter William Longstaff put it well when he wrote, “Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul; each thought and each motive beneath His control.”
Perhaps you have a problem with someone and have decided to “tell him off.” Why not wait? Its easier to brush off mud when its dry. And pray for the one who offended you. It may dry the mud a little faster. -P.R.V.
Two influential preachers, Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker, occupied pulpits in London during the 19th century. On one occasion, Parker commented about the poor condition of children admitted to Spurgeons orphanage. It was reported to Spurgeon, however, that Parker had criticized the orphanage itself. Being a man of fiery temperament, Spurgeon blasted Parker from his pulpit. That attack, printed in the newspaper, became the talk of the town. Londoners flocked to Parkers church the next Sunday to hear his rebuttal. “I understand Dr. Spurgeon is not in his pulpit today, and this is the Sunday they use to take an offering for the orphanage,” Parker said. “I suggest we take a love offering here for the orphanage.” The crowd was delighted; ushers had to empty the collection plates three times.
Later that week, there was a knock at Parkers study. It was Spurgeon. “You know, Parker, you have practiced grace on me,” he said. “You have given me not what I deserved; you have given me what I needed.”