‘Time in the Word’ By Clayton Adams
Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book; ‘Talking to Strangers – What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know’ is a fascinating look at the issue of misunderstanding people. Gladwell argues that “because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.”
Misunderstandings and other human failures turn simple disagreements into divorces, wars and is contributing to the quickening decline of our nation.
I have learned that there is always more to a person than what the eye sees or the ear hears. Embarrassed, foolish and regretful is how I feel when I judged someone only later to learn I was wrong. Judging others seems to be a repeating offense in my life. When I pass judgment on others, subconsciously I am saying “I can’t be that bad” compared to the other person, but, I am.
Why do we have misunderstandings, why do we fall into the trap of judging others? Simply said, our pride gets in the way. The human heart is a wicked and cruel deceiver. God states it this way, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Pride is what welled up in the heart of Satan and caused him to be thrown down out of heaven. Pride is what caused Adam and Eve to sin against God.
Pride continues to destroy people, churches and nations. The problem with humans is we are human, full of ego, pride, selfish and duplicitous.
We misunderstand other people because we make judgments about them or we do not try to understand their reasoning, actions or choices. Most often our first impression of someone leads us to make incorrect judgments about a person.
We are not the first to do this, God dealt with this long ago, God said, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
There is always more to a person than what we see or hear.
The apostle Peter knew something about misunderstanding others and pride.
Peter’s pride surfaced on a regular basis while he was with Jesus. Pride was, perhaps, the single greatest reason Peter and the apostle Paul had a major disagreement. God dealt with Peters pride several times and later in life he wrote a letter to other Christians concerning these issues.
Under the inspiration and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:6-10).
“Humble yourselves…” Who likes to be humble?
However, notice in these five verses the reason why the devil is described “as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” takes the prideful person down so easily. A person is caught in their own web of self-deceit created and fed by pride they are unable to see the danger of their pride.
Pride causes good church folks to revolt against their leadership because of differences in style, music or reaching out to others who are not already part of the church. Pride kills churches. Pride anesthetizes an individual against reality and causes a false belief of invincibility – thus the adversary, the devil can devour that person, marriage, church, community, or nation quickly. Pride always leads to a fall and there is always collateral damage to others.
God gives us the ability to guard against and fight pride in our lives, consider what God said; “My dear brothers and sisters understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). Sometimes I am slow to listen and quick to speak and this is exactly what gets me into trouble.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). I heard a preacher once say, “if you have to look around to see who is listening to what you are about to say you probably shouldn’t say it.”
“Hearers” includes anyone who is listening or will get the information second hand.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord” (Romans 12:18-19). Don’t try to get your revenge God is so much better at it, leave it to Him.
“In everything, treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Matthew 7:12). I hope this is still taught in kindergarten. This principle helps to guard against pride.
What is the greatest commandment? “You shall love the Lord your God with all our heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39). To love others, I must first love God and God gives me the ability to love myself and others.
Love is another guard against pride.
Putting aside my pride is the first step to really listening and understanding others. If you are currently involved in a misunderstanding, may I suggest to you that you could be the one who is wrong. Perhaps the misunderstanding is on your part. Put a stop to misunderstandings by seeking first to understand then to be understood and following God’s directions. We can end misunderstandings by following God’s directions not our emotions and pride.
Clayton Adams has a message of faith he would like to share with the community. He would also like to hear from you. E-mail him at claytonpadamslll@ gmail.com.