What's bugging you?

by Gavin  

What's bugging you?

Mosquitos are niggly, horrible, buzzing things.  They sneak up on you, and then, out of nowhere, that burning, stinging itch starts.  Some are worse than others… I remember one bite I sustained on a bus in Cairo.  Egyptian mozzies are on steroids, and it felt like my hand had been immersed into sulphuric acid, with a weal that resembled a balloon on my hand.

 

What remedies do we use for a mozzie bite?  Scratch lots?  Methylated spirts?  Smear on antihistamine cream if available?  Or just leave it, and wait for the symptoms to resolve.

 

You see, the irritation is actually pretty short-lived.  Not one of us has rushed to a local ER for hospitalization and radical amputation for a mozzie bite.  It is an irritation, and at worst a bad irritation.  But it is not life threatening and not something that warrants major attention.

 

Can I confess something?  I have probably been a mosquito to you as a church member or adherent.  I am, if we're honest, a pastor that bug you from time to time (hopefulyl, not ALL the time...?) No doubt I have overlooked, forgotten or said something stupid in the last year, month or week.  That’s life in a sin affected world.  It was not intentional, and no malice was meant.  Without being funny or offensive, you have probably been a mosquito to someone else too – through things said, or unsaid, actions done or undone, right?

 

Think about it.   Imagine the scene…

 

+  Your favourite uncle promised to attend your soccer game, but double-booked and couldn’t make it. 

+  You’ve bought a new dress, spent a fortune at the hairdresser and manicure parlour, and your husband walks in at the end of a long day, and doesn’t even notice that there is anything different about your new exterior.

+  Your wife moves your car into the garage and nicks the painted side mirror.

+  Your name gets left off the church birthday notices in the weekly bulletin. 

+  Someone walks past you in the pew in church and steps on your toe.

+  That church member doesn’t greet you one Sunday morning in the foyer.

+  Or…. whatever!

 

The list of seemingly insignificant little things that are done accidentally, thoughtlessly and non-maliciously is endless.  But how do we respond to these things when they happen?  There is no sin intended, no hidden agenda of using that action to quietly launch a subtle personal attack on you.  So then, why is it that those little incidents provoke us to something resembling a nuclear attack on the “offending party?”

 

Paul wrote this to the Ephesians :

 

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1–3, ESV)

 

Hmmm… bear with one another in love?  What does that mean?  Well, quite simply, put up with each other.  Overlook the minor stuff.  That’s fully consistent with what Solomon counselled :

 

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:12, ESV).

 

So, how good are you are overlooking offences?  If you are, it is actually commended in the Bible :

 

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11, ESV). 

 

Scripture does not commend behaviour that is pride-filled, reactive and explosive.  It upholds patience, long-suffering and forbearance.  Peter even re-states the issue this way:

 

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8, ESV)

 

So then, what is bugging you about someone?  What is bugging you about me?  What is bugging me about you?  What irritating, mosquito-like behaviours are we inflicting on each other?  And then, how do we handle that?  More particularly, how do we handle that in a way that is biblical and honouring to Christ, as opposed to just reacting in the flesh?

 

The wise person who is responding in God-glorifying ways does not take offence at the accidental or the inconsequential.  The people who are quick to anger take everything as personal attacks on themselves.  Wisdom does not take offence at the accidental.  That is equally true of the inconsequential – those actions or words that might have been sin, but also might not have been.  “Was his voice too sharp?  Was his tone disrespectful?  Was that oversight deliberate?”  The wise person shows patience and refuses to imagine offences, or construct offences where there was absolutely no malice intended.

 

In our homes, marriages, families, workplaces and in our church family, do we do this?  Do we overlook the accidental and inconsequential?  The best way to avoid bitterness and lingering, stewing anger is to overlook and ignore the inconsequential and the accidental, and to truly forgive the consequential and the actual sins.  That, according to Proverbs, is to our glory, but also ultimately to the Lord’s. 

 

What do you need to do in response to the bugging of people?

 

[This is a repost of an old Facebook blog done in February 2015, and added to the official RBC site as a musings and a resource!]

 

 

 

 

 

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