2008-10-16 - Your Calling Card
Eccl 10:12 Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; (NASB)
This is a particularly difficult verse for me. There is a streak within me that does not suffer fools lightly. In my line of work, something done in a shoddy fashion can cause hours of down time in computer systems potentially costing the company that I work for large sums of money and time cleaning up the problems caused by the crash. It is particularly frustrating to know that someone has the ability and chooses, as we all make many choices during our days, not to exercise those abilities. We all make mistakes, and we all have bad days. But to decide that "good enough" is good enough when one knows full well that it is not is at best fooling himself. My responses are more temptered than the were when I was much younger thankfully.
What is the proper reaction to a situation we find frustrating? The easy response is to allow that frustration to turn to anger. That response will be anything but gracious.
Earlier this week I was sent a link that led to a page of absolutely stunning pictures and images from various satellites and probes in orbit around the earth and trailing the orbit of the earth both closer to and further from our sun. The images were of the Sun, some photographed the magnetosphere or the corona, others caught the disks of Mercury or Venus crossing in front of the solar disk. These images evoked responses that ranged from awe and wonder to dumfounded stares at the comparison of the size of the planets to our nearest star. We are so small it is a wonder to know that God knows us and cares for us enough to send His Son.
At the end of the page was a place to allow comments. Some were simple - "Wow!" Others were a little more expressive. A few praised God for His creation, which brought irritated responses from some who were not so tolerant of the faith expressed. It did not take long for the responses to become near tirades. The biggest disappointment was that the angry responses came from both sides. This was also the most convicting. It is so easy to see myself going down that line of argument and spiral into the same emotions.
After seeing that discussion, and I do use the term loosely, I am convicted that I must extract that intolerance from my life. The anger and bile that welled up in the posted comments, or in any conversation, becomes a calling card. Once that card is left, how can one go back and try to bring the message of Christ to the other person and expect to have a leg to stand on? I do not want to win the debate and lose my opponent for eternity.
How does the calling card each of leaves impact those around us? Be careful to separate facts from options and emotions. Others are allowed to have opposing opinions - even on God and eternity. By our actions we point them in one direction or the other - toward Christ, or away from Him. Is there a time to speak frankly? Of course there is. Even this can be done with grace.
My brother-in-law recently passed away very suddenly. One gentleman spoke to me after the funeral, which as attended by more than 250 people. He said that Dan had a greater impact on the church in the four years Dan had been there than anyone else in the 45 years the gentleman had attended there. That is a powerful statement. Dan's calling card has become his legacy. That legacy will reach out to people through others lives whom he touched and changed for years and possibly for generations to come. The responses in the comments on the web page under the images will have an impact too. I somehow want my impact to be more like Dan's.
Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)
Lord Jesus - Help us watch our tongues and fill our minds with grace in the things that we see and read so that we have that to share with those around us. Write your words on our hearts and bring them to our minds as we walk through our days. Amen.
Grace & Peace,