Proverbs 18:2 - A fool takes no pleasure in understanding; but only in expressing his opinion.
In light of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, many people have taken to social media and other forums to express their opinions of the grand jury, the police officer, the slain teenager, the process, etc. I believe I have learned much from the different videos and postings regarding different points of view and different renderings of the events. I have heard people seeking to be civil while their hearts were breaking. And I have heard pointed comments that stake out a position as if it were high, holy ground.
As I consider again the events of the week leading to Thanksgiving, 2014, I was saddened that these events had to transpire at all. I was saddened even more when people I know, people I call brother and sister could not seek to understand. They wanted to be understood.
In my reading of Scripture, I came across the above proverb that gave me pause. How easy it is to have an opinion! How easy it is to speak my mind and sound as if I know what I am talking about. In an irony of the moment, is that not what I am doing right now?
At this moment, I pause to take stock and ask, "What hurtful way is in me? What opinion do I hold that will keep me from simply hearing another perspective? Are the relationships I have worth the harm I will do if I insist on hearing only the din of my voice because I could not hear my brother or sister?"
Saint Frances of Assisi asked the Lord to make him an instrument of his peace. One such person seeks to bring or restore peace where it has been stolen away. He understands that to be such an instrument, he would have to refrain from many so-called natural actions of judgment. To be such an instrument is to accept the person across from her as being made in the image of God, however marred it may be, and possibly in need of consolation, understanding, and love.
A fool does not seek understanding - he seeks the promotion of his ideas. A fool does not seek to console - she seeks to pronounce the sentence as if the pain of another was punishment. A fool does not seek to love - he seeks to justify himself.
Too many times I am the fool. When it comes to comprehending all that goes into the Ferguson events, I am better off listening, consoling, and understanding. I certainly have a point of view, but I have no more first hand knowledge of this situation and its history than many of my fellow believers and friends. My conversation needs to be seasoned with salt - an agent that purifies and preserves rather than contaminates and spoils.
Would you join me in this? Can we speak to one another as image bearers of God so that we honor our Lord in how we communicate? As for me, my desire and hope is that people see Christ in me not for what I have said but for how I said it, not for my opinion, but for the wisdom I showed in holding it.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.