PMT 2014-077b By Don Strickland
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
Please let me praise my wife, Jenny, a bit, and along the way perhaps God will teach us something.
I have never considered myself “a hot-tempered man,” but last week something occurred that would have placed me into that category–if merely for a few minutes. Each week, unless Jenny leaves instructions to the contrary, the nurses at the nursing home ready Jenny’s mom for church. On Saturday, while she was visiting her mom, Jenny told the head nurse that her mother would likely not go to church the next morning. The weatherman indeed called for a 70% chance of rain for Sunday, so her mother could not go to church. Jenny had forgotten to confirm that fact with the nursing home until almost 10am Sunday morning (she usually calls at 7am).
When we arrived at the nursing home, I proceeded to take some things down to her mother’s room, while Jenny went to find her mom in the dining hall. Jenny was met there by the nurse who had been in charge of her mom that morning. In a very angry and animated way, the nurse expressed her displeasure toward Jenny for not telling them that her mom would not be going to church that morning until 10. She was upset that she had spent her time getting Jenny’s mom ready. And this verbal barrage came from a nurse whom Jenny and I both had gone out of our way to help in the past.
Additionally, the head nurse whom Jenny had spoken to the day before was standing a few feet away hearing this whole encounter. She had apparently not told the angry nurse Jenny’s words of the day before and was certainly not going to speak up now!
Now had I been present, my first inclination would have been either to put the nurse in her place (“Ummm. . . who do you work for? Who provides the money for your paycheck?”), or blame shift (“I told the head nurse. Did she not tell you? Complain to her.” Or to the head nurse, “Did you not tell her what I told you yesterday?”), or remind her she owes us (“After what we did for you, and you are upset about this?”), or go on the attack (“I want to talk to your supervisor. . . now.”). None of the above would have been that soft answer which turns away wrath (Pr 15.1), and so instead of calming the dispute, strife would have been further stirred up.
Remembering Pastor Steve Hill’s “homework assignment” (given just over a half hour prior to this incident) that we were to show love to a difficult person in the coming week, Jenny chose the path of the wise (Pr 15.2). She graciously apologized.
Yes, it was a good thing that I was not present. But God knew that, so I was running an errand down the hall. Besides this was Jenny’s opportunity to give God glory. . . and to work on her “homework.” Who knows, but this encounter may prove to be a step of grace in the lives of those present, where “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Pr 15.4).
Do we choose the way of the wise by teaching our tongues to use our “knowledge rightly”? If we will,
we can be “a tree of life” to those whose paths we cross each day. God gives us specific opportunities tailored to who we are in Him. How are we responding to those opportunities? With obedience, blindness, or rebellion?