When It’s Our Time To Speak

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.

Click here to see how tactfully Nathan confronted David in 2 Samuel 12:1-12.
Click here to read Psalm 51, David’s response to God after hearing Nathan’s message.


Fifty Ways To Lose Your Treasure

In his teenage and early-adult years, I would occasionally share this observation with my son, Matthew: “Some people have money because they earn a lot, and some people have money because they don’t spend it.” (When you’ve driven around the block a few times in life, you begin to notice these things!) Even today when young people tell me about working two or three jobs, I tell them that the good thing about working hard is that you earn a lot of money and you don’t have time to spend it. Start saving now! They laugh and nod in agreement, relating well from their new-found experience.

One of the ironies in life is that it takes years of toil and sacrifice to build up a cash reserve—“security” that can vanish in an instant! As King Solomon once wrote, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:5). Earning is difficult, but losing money? Well, with apologies to songwriter, Paul Simon, there must be “Fifty Ways To Lose Your Treasure.”

Just purchase the bridge, Midge, fall for the spiel, Neil
Don’t need to beware, Clare, go shopping with glee
Go out and spend, Len, go buy that brand-new Benz
Just give me the cash, Flash, entrust it to me

You get the point. We can all think of famous “success stories”—business tycoons, movie stars, professional athletes—who had everything, only to lose everything.

Yet fiscal ruin pales in comparison to personal ruin—the loss of family and friends and faith and health. No one ever sets out to sacrifice these things in pursuit of worldly success; it just happens gradually, imperceptibly over time. And so, Solomon says to all who will cease striving long enough listen, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint” (Proverbs 23:4).

Think long-term, make good decisions, value life balance—I think that’s what Solomon is saying. I’ll take his word for it. Seems like a wise enough guy.

Father, thank you for every good gift that comes from you. Lead me into wise decisions, that I would seek you each day and invest this life into the well-being of those you put in my path today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is wisdom.