Points to Ponder: Don't let it steal your joy

Points to Ponder
Don't let it steal your joy

While waiting to meet with someone at a local restaurant, I was observing the people around me. It was the Sunday lunch rush. One couple offered me their booth, so I sat down. Then two ladies looked at me from across the area with an expression of disgust. They claimed they had been waiting for a table long before I had arrived. I did not think they were correct, but so what? They were offended. The outcome of this encounter was clearly up to me.
So giving them the benefit of the doubt, I relinquished the booth. It was not worth arguing over. Upon taking a position off to the side, I glanced back at the two ladies. They were beside their husbands, bowing their heads in prayer. They probably weren't praying for me; but if we had fought over table rights, maybe their prayers would have included me. (Jesus says, "Pray for your enemies.")
The congestion in the restaurant was thick as people constantly flowed through. I observed an older gentleman doctoring his coffee with the usual additives. A hostess carrying off a bus pan passed him. He held forth the empty creamer decanter and said in a rather snippy tone: "Miss...would you bring more Half and Half - please!" The young woman was hustling about, doing several things at a time. He seemed really ticked off. Things tend to run out during a lunch rush, but this guy was taking it personally. That was interesting to watch.
Do you ever ponder what people choose to fight over; what causes some to lose their cool? One of my mentors, Rev. Vandy Kennedy, would often say, "Don't let it steal your joy, son." H. B. London describes some people as "joy suckers." They get under our skin and irritate us, and usually over some relatively minor issue. And they do this because we allow them. We have to be careful about what offends us.
"The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression" (Proverb 19:11).
Who is going to stop fueling the fire of a simmering argument? Being "right" on a certain point may not be worth the long-term cost of a damaged relationship.
"In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise" (Proverb 10:19).
It takes intentional and thoughtful restraint. The person who boldly and brashly declares, "I don't care what other people think," is often not realizing that if enough people "think" he is a fool, he will be ignored or avoided. Power and respect are not in the big talker or the tough guy, or the one who is easily offended and lets it be known.
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverb 16:32).
When I bought my first townhouse in Baltimore, it had a stockade fence between my and the neighbor's yard. One day, the fence was laying on the ground; someone had cut it down intentionally. I calmly asked my new neighbor if he knew anything about it. The culprit had to cut the wires from his side. Having two ferocious Dobermans in his yard, it seemed odd that he didn't know how this had happened. Then his mother came out and told me how the neighbors hated that fence, but the previous owner put it up anyway.
I looked at the fence, then at them, and quickly recalled that I had a 30-year mortgage. I would be living next to these folks for a while. "I'll get rid of the fence...No problem," I said. She back pedaled on her anti-fence position and assured me, "No Hon, you don't need to do that..." But I insisted that our relationship meant more to me than that fence.
It was gone the next week, and they were wonderful neighbors for the next 10 years.
There are more important things to be fired up about than some of the things we allow to steal our joy.
"And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.' Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:8-10).
They need what you have. Realize what you do have - and be a good steward of His grace toward others.

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 10:45pm, both days.