The blizzard hit on Sunday morning. A lone farmer showed up at church. The young pastor prepared to close up for the day. But, the farmer replied, “If I bring out my load of feed to the hogs, and only one hog shows up, I still feed the one that makes the effort”. So, the pastor preached to his lone congregant. The pastor found himself preaching with great liberty. Flying in rarified heights of oratorical glory, he ended up preaching well past his normal sermon time. Somewhat sheepishly, he noted the clock on the wall and hurried to say goodbye to the farmer. The farmer replied, “Pastor, I would feed that one hog. But, I would not feel the need to dump the whole durn load!!”
There are times when we need to heed the farmer’s advice. We can dump too much. We have truth to share. Truth about God. Truth about a person’s issues. Truth about our read of a situation. We never want to be unwilling to “speak truth in love” (Ephesians 4:25). But, sometimes we need to hold on to our “truth”. How do you know when it is time to not dump the whole load?
When we are interested in being heard, but not hearing.
James says we are to be “swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19). God gave us two ears, one mouth. This is a real message to those in authority. Bosses. Parents. It can feel overbearing, at least, and abusive, at worst, when we force others to hear our “truth”, without wanting to really understand and empathize. Honestly, there are times we just want them to button up and listen! But, often it is when we are struggling with other life issues that have nothing to do with them.
When it is not our place to jump in.
roverbs 26:17 says, “Like one who grabs a dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.” Even the calmest dog hates his ears being grabbed! It riles him!! Throwing your two cents into an argument often does the same thing. Sit on your words. Share them letter. In private. In the calm. Not in the storm.
When the person is really not able to grasp what we are going to say.
This is a big one. It is one that Jesus illustrates to us. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12) Sometimes you really are right about a person. You know they are acting with more self-serving motives than they realize. Or, they just seem so full of themselves! Or, they are so negative and critical. These are all qualities in our lives that can be harmful to us. A friend, a true friend may be called on by God to speak to their friend about it. But, maybe the Spirit just prompts your heart, “they are not able to hear this right now. Wait. Give it time.” But, good “truth tellers” feel they have to lay it all out there, or they are being dishonest or compromising. Jesus didn’t feel that way. Sometimes, grace prompts you to not dump the whole durn load.
- Pastor Mark Willey