The customer service line at the big-box hardware store had slowed to a halt that afternoon as the lone attendant awaited a price-check. As seconds amassed into minutes, the eyes bearing down upon her increased both in number and in intensity, and then the grumbling began. “Can you believe this?!?” a man fumed to my wife. Now, Peggy is among the more tactful people on the planet, and so she replied, “Yes, I know. Can you image how frustrating it must be for her right now, all alone and with no one to help her?” There was a pause. “I never thought of it that way,” the man said, more softly now, more introspectively. After another pause, he asked Peggy, “What do you do for a living?”
The world in which we live and breathe is far from perfect; indeed, we all contribute to its imperfection. Intentionally or not, we aggravate others and they irritate us; moreover, we sometimes find ourselves having to speak to others about their wrongdoings, not in judgment or self-righteousness, but because we care. Addressing someone’s moral shortcoming, however, is dicey at best, and at worst downright treacherous. So, what do we do? Perhaps Peggy should be the one writing this post, but I have observed this: it helps to accompany someone to a place where we can humbly behold together the good and right ways of God. The man waiting in line, for instance, was kindly shown a perspective from which a newfound compassion for another eclipsed momentary inconvenience for himself. Nothing more needed to be said in the moment, for the moment had said enough.
King David had his own big-box store encounter: despite all his power and wealth, he took from a common soldier the one thing that mattered most to him—his wife. This time it was Nathan standing with him in line, arousing in David a godly passion for honor and justice before confronting him with his own acts of contempt for them. Convicted in the contrast, David confessed his sin, the first step toward forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.
Be it in a palace or a hardware store, whether we are a prophet or an income tax preparer, there will be times when we are called to speak up. When those times come, may we be found faithful in the moment—carefully and prayerfully speaking truth in love.
Father, send me your Spirit of wisdom and discernment today that I might proceed lovingly when I must speak and refrain humbly when I must be silent. Strengthen me to trust you in all things. In the name of Christ and by the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.
Christ in me is wisdom.