Have you ever walked away from a conversation not sure you said the right thing? I have. Usually, the words replay in my mind several times until I am able to craft the perfect response. “I should have said…”
Next time, I vow. Yes, the next time I encounter the situation I will be able to respond correctly. But I am disappointed that I did not have the correct response this time, that I didn’t apply the Word better. Sometimes it seems an opportunity to glorify God has slipped away.
Yet I don’t think God is disappointed with our conversational mishaps. It is after all a teachable moment.
Recently one of those mishaps occurred during a chance encounter in a Christian bookstore with a woman I do not know and will probably never meet again. She shared a story about visiting a church where the pastor made political comments from the pulpit she found inappropriate. She was so repulsed, she got up and left the service.
I was quick to agree with her. Pastors needed to be mindful of “preaching” their political opinions when called to preach God’s Word. It was a congenial conversation however she was more descriptive of the church than I am while writing this piece.
Later, as I thought about her comments it seemed she was making accusations against a brother in Christ when he was not there to defend himself. I only heard her side of the story. She had not revealed what political opinions had been shared, nor put them in context.
As I began to research Scriptures that would be applicable, I came across Romans 8:33. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” ESV
An article I read pointed out Satan is the Accuser, and Christians should not take over Satan’s work as the Accuser of the brethren. Christians are to be forgiving rather than accusing.1
Then there is the matter of complaining. Long ago I came to understand that all complaints are against God. If He is sovereign, we are essentially stating we don’t like what He has ordained. Philippians 2:14-15 states: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” ESV
This woman was at the perfect place and time that Sunday morning and God knew the reason. She had not stumbled upon this fellowship by chance. Yet she did not like where God placed her. The pastor’s comments were offensive, and so she complained.
A columnist described the reason behind complaining this way: “People complain because they aren’t feeling the way they want, or things aren’t happening the way they want.”2
My thought after contemplating the conversation was that the woman needed to take the matter to the pastor following the service and discuss the issue with him, according to the instruction found in Matthew 18:15-17. I concluded that would be the best way to engage in this conversation. When people identify as a brother or sister in Christ, whether a stranger or not, we should be able to find our direction in God’s Word.
Those unexpected encounters are great tools for self-analysis. Opportunities to see our ways. Of course, the encounter did not surprise God.
The next time you are in a “I should have…” situation, ask what prompted your response. Compare notes with God, your response versus His direction. Note the insight He gives. Seek understanding and discernment. Then when you face a similar situation, you will not think, “I should have taken the time to learn from that last conversation.”
Contemplate Your Ways:
1-When was the last time you could not find the right words to say in a conversation? What did God teach you? If you did not take the time to learn from the situation allot some time to it. Don’t forget to make notes so you will remember.
2-Have you ever initiated a conversation that wasn’t guided by Scripture? If so, what did you say that you should not have? Did you repeat gossip, slander someone, complain?
1-“The Accuser of the Brethren,” by Pastor J.C. O’Hair posted on bereanbiblesociety.org.
2-“What Does the Bible Say About Complaining? A Christian Study” posted by Derek Hill, March 23, 2014, christianswanttoknow.com.