Don’t Say It!

            Let me tell you about something that really irked me today.  The other day I e-mailed an acquaintance I’m in touch with only frequently these days.  I sent Jim an article I thought he might find of interest, but didn’t make any specific comments about its contents.  I should have prefaced the message with Paul Harvey’s phrase:  “Just what, not why.”  The information I sent was meant to be just that—information without explanation.  It was an observation that didn’t seem to call for much response.  .  The reply I received was a lengthy diatribe of the whys and wherefores pertaining to the subject at hand and was full of what I consider to be blatant propaganda and stupidity.  Such a response is typical of Jim, but I had forgotten that.  Foolishly, I was hoping for something like:  “Thanks.  Yes, that was interesting.”  I realize now I should have resisted the urge to send him anything in the first place.  As my kids might say, “My bad.”

            I sat at the computer for a few minutes trying to think of how I should reply.  There didn’t seem to be any point in arguing, since it would cover old ground on which Jim and I have never agreed.  Should I even reply at all?  I decided not to and deleted the message.

            Forgive me for being vague about the e-mail exchange with Jim.  The details don’t really matter.  So, why tell you any of this?  There’s a point I want to make.  Namely, there are some people you and I just can’t communicate with.  We’re simply not on the same wavelength.  We have completely different frames of reference and different mindsets.  Do you think a Republican will ever persuade a Democrat to switch parties?  How often does a Protestant persuade a Catholic to give up Catholicism?  This is one reason the old timers give the advice not to talk about politics and religion. 

            It’s only the Holy Spirit that gets through to someone you might be talking to about Christ.  To summarize I Cor. 2:14-16, a natural lman without the Holy Spirit will think the things of God are foolishness.  Only a believer indwelt by the Spirit can understand such things.

            But there’s more.  Regarding those we simply can’t communicate with, the Scriptures give good reason for not trying at all.  “Forsake the foolish, and live: and go in the way of understanding.  He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee:  rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” (Prov. 9:6-8).  In the Gospels, when Jesus sent out His disciples, he told them to leave a place and wipe the dust off their feet, if that place wasn’t receptive to them (Matt. 10:14).  Paul did his utmost to win his fellow Jews to Christ, but had to give up on them and go to the Gentiles (Acts 18:5-6.

            I’ll be honest.  This is something I have to remind myself of periodically.  The e-mail exchange I mentioned earlier is a classic example.  I understand Jim’s urge to lecture.  I’ve given in to it myself many times, but with a little age and maturity,, I’ve learned to bite my tongue in many situations.  Replying to Jim would have been pointless.  No matter how right I might be, I’m not going to get through.  Why spin my wheels?  Frankly—and don’t underestimate the importance of this—I just don’t need the stress.  Let the other guy be wrong.  Let him be the fool.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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