Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:6
It was just a little misunderstanding. The story is told of a pastor who visited a man in the hospital. As he stood by the bed, the man began to be in deep distress. Unable to speak he quickly wrote the pastor a note, handed it to him and then just died. In all the confusion of the moment, the pastor slid the note into his pocket and forgot about it. Several days later the pastor was conducting the memorial service for the man. The pastor was describing the man…his life, his good heart and his service for others. Then it happened.
The pastor suddenly remembered that he had the note in his suit pocket. He told the audience, “I have just remembered the day Joe died I was visiting him in the hospital and he slipped me a note right before he passed away. I failed to read it and have just now remembered it is in my pocket. How special it would be if we can share his final thoughts together now. So the pastor reached into his pocket, pulled out the note and read, “You’re standing on my oxygen hose.” Smile.
As a pastor you can bet I’ve got some pretty crazy stories and a lot of them revolve around little misunderstandings and lack of communication. One day I was visiting one of our members in the hospital and she was quite ill. When I make a visit I naturally slip into my “let me make you feel better mode.” For me there are two great fix-alls—humor and food. But sometimes, many times, a person just needs compassion and kindness. This was one of those times.
I walked into the room and she was lying in the bed softly moaning. I moved over by the bed and whispered her name. She opened her eyes, slightly smiled and said, “Pastor, thank you for coming by.” We shared for just a few minutes and it was obvious she was very sick. And then she said, “I just want to go home.” I softy said, “I know.” And she said it again and then another time. Each time I responded with some simple words of understanding. After the third time I upped my game. I said, “I know you want to go home and when God is ready, He will take you.”
Well, imagine my surprise, and embarrassment, when she said, “NOT that home, pastor, my home.” Oh…oops. I was ready to ship her off to heaven and she was just wanting to go back to her house. Like I said, sometimes there is just a lack of understanding and communication. When that happens we need to admit that we missed it and if necessary ask for a little grace or perhaps give a little grace. I quickly apologized for the misunderstanding, she did get better and indeed went to her home. We even had the chance to laugh about it later.
In the world we find ourselves these days there are multiple opportunities for misunderstandings. When we find ourselves in too close of quarters for too long, when we have differing opinions about everything from the corona virus to what’s wrong with our country—misunderstandings are bound to happen. In the regular world the normal response would be to get mad and often get even. In the regular world the normal response would be more anger and more division. But for Jesus followers that is just not an option.
The Bible tells us over and again that if we follow Jesus we are to act like Jesus. We often get that when it comes to moral responses—and rightfully so. But we too often miss the biggest application—how we respond when we bump into other people…or they bump into us. Paul, one of the major writers in the Bible says, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” I like that. Gracious and attractive. Mama used to say this, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. I wonder if Mama knew Paul?
Well, the bottom line is there will always be plenty of opportunities to bump into people. There will always be plenty of opportunities to respond in a “not so Jesus way.” But what if we hit the pause button right before we speak and ask ourselves, “Is this gracious or attractive? Is this nice?” I wonder how things would change? In these dark days the world needs “Jesus lights.” It needs us to shine for Him even when we get a little tired and a little weary. We need to recognize that is just a setup for regretful words. Let’s choose option “B.” Let’s just rest in Him and choose to think before we speak. After all, He’s got this.