The Standard October 2, 2019
Almost a decade after the peak of the trend, I had my first foray into chalk painting. Last month I took a small wooden table which was sorely in need of attention and started painting it. From my initial vantage point I thought I had hit every part with the first coat. Then I put my head down, practically on the ground, to look at things from a different angle. I saw little places at the tops of the spindles that had not been reached.
How many times do we have an incomplete picture of a situation or issue yet jump to a conclusion? How often do we join a friend or family member in outrage after they tell us their version of a story? Have you ever listened to a presentation of an issue or position and been completely sold on thinking a certain way, only later to hear opposing facts or analysis which left you realizing that you rushed to judgment? At times it is easy to listen to ideas that bolster a position without considering important questions from the other side. This can happen in the church, in families, in neighborhoods and beyond. Usually the wisest course of action in analyzing an issue or situation is to take time to wait for and gather accurate information, ask pertinent questions, listen to different perspectives and try to give the benefit of the doubt if any negativity towards individuals is involved. Hurried or knee-jerk reactions often do not end up helping in any scenario. Many conflicts could be avoided if we would take the time to consider things from a variety of angles.
Jesus asked over 75 questions in the four gospels or over 300 if we count them individually without considering the gospel writers repeating accounts. Jesus took the time to listen attentively to people’s answers.
“To answer before listening- that is folly and shame.” “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” (Proverbs 18: 13, 15) Proverbs 18:17 hits the nail on the head in saying, “The first to plead their case seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.” As Christians we should remember that usually there are different versions of any account or story and that wisdom is looking at things with godly reason and grace. In doing so we will promote peace.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3: 17-18)