“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Our pastor recently described parables as earthly stories that point to heavenly things. So here’s a good one. Not long ago, I was driving down the road on a Sunday evening. The light was hitting the windshield just so, and producing a slight glare. And, as it turns out, I also had a small blind spot at the right front corner of my car. Well, I inadvertently missed and failed to yield to a cyclist. As soon as I saw him I stopped and tried to make an apologetic gesture.
But his first response was to greet me with, well, a non-apologetic gesture. Maybe his response was conditioned by countless intentionally negative encounters with motorists; or maybe the rider was used to looking for the bad in people, assuming the worst of intentions, and failing to offer the benefit of the doubt. Either way, I felt compassion for him—maybe because I could easily relate. My own focus is so often on the negative, and other people’s failures and shortcomings (and my own), that I look past the good—and assume the worst. I get easily offended, I respond defensively. I put up walls to keep people out.
I realized, as I looked upon the cyclist with a sense of pity—over all he was missing—that he was a mirror into my own heart. I saw how my suspicions of people’s actions and intentions, and my failure to give people the benefit of the doubt, robs ME of the blessing of seeing the good in them. If you can relate, perhaps you’ll join me in deliberately looking for the good in others—in order that we may bless them while being blessed ourselves. Finally, let’s remember the words of James (1:19-20), who admonished us all to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”