“There’s a time to be silent, and there’s a time to flip tables.” I hear this phrase more often than I would like to. It is in reference to Jesus becoming angry over the merchants and traders who were doing business inside the temple. People skip right to the end of Jesus response. Little time is spent on reading in-between the lines. Little time is considered over the methodical time resulting in Jesus response. John 2:15 says that Jesus made a whip of chords. He took the time to process through and prepare. He didn’t walk in and the next second flip over a bunch of tables in a kneejerk reaction to what He saw.
I struggle with this a great deal. I don’t like to wait to give my response on various issues that the world presents to us. Social media makes it easy to get a brief response in an instant over an issue that has just presented itself. We can effectively cut out the time to process through what has happened and gauge what is the best and most appropriate response.
I wish I took the time to think through my responses more often. The thing about Jesus is his example does not negate the opportunity to react and respond to an issue. Being silent is never the answer, but responding in the instant is rarely wise. Sometimes I can find myself on the right side, but say the wrong thing. Have you ever done that before? It can be so easy when you feel so strongly that you are justified in your view to speak in a harsher way than you may intend when you are little more cooled off.
I simply don’t like to wait. If I wait too long to evaluate how I say something then the world will move on to some other hot button issue. The world demands a kneejerk reaction because that is the only window of availability. Tomorrow it will forget the issues of today, and will demand my attention on something else.
We forget the time it took to make the whip. Time to think through the action. Time to think through the words. This example doesn’t promote quick action. I would even argue that Jesus was not being reactionary in this moment, or at least not in the way we view a reactionary moment. Jesus evaluated the situation, and came up` with what was the appropriate response to the situation. It presented how strongly he felt on the issue, but he did not lose control.
I am working harder on making sure I do not rush out my response to something for the sake of participated in the hot button issue while it is still the big thing. I am careful to make sure that even when I am confident on my view that I do not be needlessly hostile, harsh, rude, or self-righteous over it. I fail at that sometimes. I am admittedly a work in progress, but through this process I feel it is important to share because there is a strong possibility that there are people like me out there. People who respond to quickly in order to participate without considering the fact that taking a pause to contemplate how to respond is important.