Tuesday, June 8, 2004
Now, I'm not a deer hunter. I think I was brainwashed by "Bambi" a long time ago, but I tell you, something incredible happens in a lot of parts of the country when deer season opens. Some places they close school for a few days because of the deer, and in many places, it's just understood that workers aren't going to show up for work. They're going to be somewhere in the woods on Operation Buck. Unfortunately, sometimes the hunt can end in tragedy - for the hunter, I mean, not the deer.
This past year, on the day deer season opened in one state, two hunters were killed in accidental shootings. One was shot by another family member, actually, who apparently fired two shots at a deer that ran in front of him, and one of those bullets struck the victim in the chest. They say he was a victim of what they call "buck fever." For example, a hunter spots what he believes to be a deer, fires as soon as his sights are lined up on the target, but in reality the target is another hunter with leaf-bare arms that look like antlers. Hunters know that things turn deadly when someone decides to fire before they see everything clearly.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Firing Too Soon."
You don't have to be a hunter to make that mistake. In fact, it's quite possible that you and I have wounded way too many people because we fired before we saw everything clearly.
We all need the reminder of our word for today from the Word of God in James 1:19. I actually nominate this as one of the five most disobeyed verses in the Bible, and I don't even know what the other four are. Here's what God says - take note of this. "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." Now, all too often we just turn those words around, don't we? "Be slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry." We fire at someone before we see everything clearly.
You can't see everything clearly if you're quick to speak: as a parent, as a husband or wife, or a friend or a counselor, an employer or an employee - speak fast, listen little. We can't possibly see everything that way. We start shooting before we really understand what a person is feeling; where they're really coming from. We may listen long enough to hear their words, but how about their heart? To hear the surface issue maybe, but not long enough to hear the real issue. We make some of our most hurtful mistakes, and we say some of our most damaging words when we just react to a person's deeds instead of stepping back and looking for the need that is causing the deed.
So many of our arguments, our blowups, our misunderstandings, the broken relationships, the walls are pretty much because we don't hold our tongue, fire off a prayer to God for patience, and listen before we speak. Proverbs 18:13 says, "He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame." When we don't listen and ask questions and back off to get our feelings under control, we end up scarring people we care about with this ugly weapon described in Proverbs 12:18, "Reckless words pierce like a sword."
We talk way too soon and we talk way too much. We listen way too little, and we do way too much damage - usually to the people we love the most. And often, anger comes because we didn't listen. Don't you think it's a better idea to hold your fire until you've taken time to get the whole picture? Because when you fire too soon, someone you love is going to get hurt.