Try Harder

Sometimes When You Try To Do Right, Wrong Happens!

Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, was in a glum mood when he called yesterday. A good portion of his farming equipment is getting older, resulting in an increasing cost and frustration. Even though, Ed keeps working harder to make sure his machinery is maintained in good working order, breakdowns keep coming with his machinery.

I told Ed that his old equipment was a blessing as well as a problem. It may break down more, but the longer he can keep it working, he is escaping the expense of new machinery. I asked Ed if he would feel less glum with all new machinery. He said that spending money for new machinery would leave him feeling downright gloomy.  I asked Ed if he realized that his equipment was saving him money, that is, the significant expense of new equipment. He changed the subject of our conversation.

Instead, Ed shared his resentment about a family member. Ed and his cousin Omar were not speaking. Ed went out of his way to make sure that his cousin, Omar, knew about a family celebration. Instead of Ed, being thanked for letting his cousin know of the occasion, Ed was told that Omar didn’t want to know about the family celebration and that Ed should mind his own business. So Ed stopped talking to his cousin and hung up the phone without another word.  I could understand why Ed felt that his effort to do right by his cousin, should not have resulted in his cousin being offended. Sometimes when we seek to do right by others, they react in anger rather than gratitude.

It doesn’t take much to get people offended at each other. Disagreements can blow up like a sudden thunderstorm without much warning. Often bitter strife and antagonism develop from a small root. In Ed’s case, a simple conversation turned sour over the notification of a family occasion. We notice when people offend us by their words or actions. We may not be nearly as aware when we give offense to others by our words or actions.

Taking offense at others is part of our willingness to find fault with what other people say and do. The Bible shares that people said offensive things about both John the Baptist and Jesus. When John came neither eating or drinking, they said that he had a demon. When Jesus came, they said he was a glutton and a drunkard a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

I suggested to Ed that he needs to be patient when working with his old machinery, and see its value beyond some breakdowns. Likewise, when dealing with his cousin, Omar, it is important also to be patient. It is to a person’s honor to avoid strife for fools are quick to quarrel. Refuse to let an issue move into your thoughts and heart, and let it live and grow there. If we hold onto our grievances, they will stir up anger and strife in our lives, as surely as, churning cream produces butter, and twisting the nose produces blood. When we throw offenses away like unwanted garbage, a new, healthier, heart, and spirit grows within us.

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Raymond Maher
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