“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
Bow, wow, wow!” challenged Drover furiously. What business did this strange white pickup have coming into his master’s driveway? In truth, the arriving stranger had every right to be there, because Drover’s master had asked him to come. But Drover didn’t care what the facts were. He followed a simple policy: I will make lots of noise whenever I feel threatened.
In fairness to Drover, a dog really doesn’t have the resources to investigate the intentions of visitors. But sometimes we humans start acting a little too much like Drover. We see a brother’s action that looks suspicious, we feel threatened, and we start making lots of noise. We ignore the cardinal rule of communication: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. If we would only take a little time to listen, giving our brother the benefit of the doubt in the meantime, we often would learn that he meant no harm. The devil loves to create havoc in our churches by getting us to jump to conclusions about each other.
Today we read the account of a misunderstanding between Israel and the tribes on the other side of the river. Israel saw their brethren’s actions as dangerous and threatening. As it turned out, everyone involved was concerned about following the truth. War was narrowly averted when all the facts came to light. Communication saved the day. Defensive feelings can destroy communication and hinder mutual understanding. God has given us a level of ability, understanding, and accountability that Drover does not have. Let us use our God-given resources to maintain openness and understanding with one another.
Barking dogs make people run; empathy helps everyone.
From Paws on My Porch, by Gary Miller
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