We were having a string of many days of temperatures over 100 degrees. The only time to take our dog out for a walk is in the earlier morning before the temps get too warm. I have been getting up, eating breakfast, and then taking the dog for a walk. Most people have left for work or are still sleeping, so it is a nice quiet walk.
Sometimes I will meet people getting some work done on their yards before the heat sets in. Towards the end of one of these walks, I rounded a corner and saw a loose dog. I stopped short and had our dog sit – our dog doesn’t seem to mind horses, donkeys, or goats, but he is not a fan of other dogs or cats. Anyway, we waited until the loose dog’s owner noticed that I was waiting and he rounded up his dog before we proceeded. This gentleman started walking towards me with his dog in his arms. I said hello, and told him that my dog does not like other dogs – I did not want him to put his dog down or let him loose again. He then told me that his dog likes most every dog. I told him that was nice, but my dog unfortunately doesn’t. He then told me that [my dog’s dislike of other dogs] shows what kind of owner he has.
Wow! That was rude!
I admit my immediate response was a silent prayer that his next dog be one that doesn’t like other dogs – then another prayer of apology to God and to ask His forgiveness.
Outwardly, I told the gentleman, “Thank you,” and moved on. But God then gave me a real teachable lesson there – I doubt this gentleman meant to be rude and mean – and how often am I rude and mean and prideful without even realizing it? Why is it that Mormons missionaries have an impression of Christians as rude and argumentative? Why does the world have a general view of Christians as intolerant bigoted hypocrites? Could it be that we knowingly or unknowingly leave that impression on others? Jesus left heaven and all its glory and wonders and powers and amazingness to come to earth to become one of us. He related to us, spoke our language, and taught us in a way we could relate to –
He told stories and used word-pictures to get His message across. Sometimes I think we can take on a self-righteous attitude, or we get too caught up in wanting to be right, or making our point, that we forget to let go of ourselves and humbly step in the other person’s shoes, to speak her language, to relate to that person, to show love to that person first. I’m not saying that being a Christian is not controversial or that God’s ways seem foolish in the eyes of the world – I’m just saying that perhaps we need to be more conscious of the other person and how we are representing Jesus, not just in the message itself.
James 3:2 Indeed, we all make mistakes. For if we control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
“Oh Lord Jesus! I am so very thankful that You came to earth and became one of us – that You spoke our language, spoke in a way we could understand. Thank you for the Bible that is alive today with Your words. LORD, I need Your help to be quick to listen and slow to speak – so often I say things that send the wrong message to people and I don’t represent You very well. Help me always to think of who I am talking with and listen – truly listen – before I speak. I want my words to be a reflection of You. I want others to see You through my attitude, my tone of voice, and my words. How people respond is not my issue – but I do not ever want to be a stumbling block to anyone’s faith or give You a bad name. Oh, LORD, how thankful I am for You! Use me however You please. In Your powerful name I pray – AMEN.”
Oh, how we need each other! Thank you for being prayer warriors and loving others through prayer!