Clothed in Crabbiness

 In All Church of God, Columns


By Sam Collins

Most New Year’s resolutions are as durable as paper mâché crash helmets. Many of them are nothing more than shredded confetti by mid-February.

Part of this poor record is no doubt connected to our human tendency to go beyond biting off a little more than we can chew to attempting to wrap our lips around a challenge the size of a humpback whale on a kaiser roll. Rather than attempting to lose five pounds, we declare our resolve to shed weight equivalent to the tonnage of the Pacific Fleet. Instead of deciding to walk for thirty minutes five days a week, we set our sights on running a mountain-trail marathon by Arbor Day.

Yet the problem is not just that our aims are often so unrealistic that they all but guarantee discouragement and surrender. It’s also that we often neglect changes that might make much more difference in our lives than fitting into that new outfit or learning an obscure dialect of Mandarin Chinese.

An oft neglected resolve, at this or any other point on the calendar, is introducing a little more kindness into our interactions with other people. In his letter to the believers at Colossae, Paul wrote, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col 3:12 NIV).

One of the great shames of the church is that some professed followers of Jesus are as apt to clothe themselves in crabbiness as in kindness. They appear to take the designation “chosen people” as a privilege that grants them license to act like jerks and louts in interactions with store clerks, co-workers, restaurant personnel, close kin, fellow Christians, unbelievers, and any other members of the human race who manage to get on their bad side (which is a vast continent compared to the ticket stub-sized territory representing their good side).

We need not voice or act upon every impatient, irritated, exasperated feeling we have. Had Jesus allowed his disciples to call down fire from heaven upon every village in which the inhabitants aggravated or annoyed them, Palestine likely would have become one gigantic, smoldering ash pit (Luke 9:51–56).

Jesus, I think, is far less interested in scorching the earth with the wrath of grumpy Christians than he is in seeing our expressions of peevishness, displeasure, and self-righteous indignation burned away to reveal hearts tempered by mercy and warmed by tenderness. Softening our demeanor will not disarm all those who view the way of Christ with cynicism. Yet if we Christians could resolve to increase our kindness quotient a bit, we just might see a corresponding decline in the suspicion and hostility with which some people react to the Christian faith.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Church of God Ministries or, at points, even the writer, but are written with tongue firmly planted in cheek to hopefully provoke a leavening bit of laughter and a smidgen of thought.

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