Like a Wonder

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

James 3:10

In The Earth Is Enough, the late Harry Middleton wrote about “trout men”—one of them an Ozark legend named Elias Wonder. Elias, fly-fisherman-extraordinaire that he was, would file the barbs off his hooks so as not to needlessly tear up the fish’s jaw. He could hook a trout, get a good look at it, bring it to within ten feet of him, then flick his rod sideways and instantly dislodge the hook without harming the trout. Sounds like a wonder doesn’t it? It also sounds like kindness.

Wouldn't it be something if kindness started trending today?

I wrote that line on Facebook recently, simply cast it out there to rest of top of the social media waters. Did anyone bite? Well, it got 51 likes and 3 shares, so I guess, although by social media standards that’s weak. But my hope is that those 51 likers went and did something kind. If that happened to any degree, I call that a win.

But my gut tells me kindness probably won’t start trending anytime soon, if ever, because unfortunately, at least in the social media waters many of us swim in, the barbs stay on the hooks. Stuff gets torn up. If you think I’m talking about the preference of some vast secular audience, I’m not. I see it weekly in the community of those of us who call ourselves Christian. We still seem to love a good crucifixion. Brothers and sisters, this should not be.

I know this sounds old-fashioned, but the biblical admonition to be slow to speak may be one of our best hopes in making this online world a kinder place. Yes, I also know that in onlineville, if you snooze you lose. But taking things slow gives us time to practice the discipline of consideration—we can consider our words and possibly remove any barbs that might be there, words or phrases that would do needless harm. Should we be speaking out against injustice and up for the oppressed, the voiceless, those shunted to the margins? You bet. But how we, as Christians, speak in those moments may be as important as what we say. Learning to become good fishers of men and women and children means filing the barbs off our words. Doing so may not generate many likes, but it’ll go far in the direction of loves. If we’re lucky, some might notice such behavior and call it kindness. But I’m tempted to call it what it is—a wonder.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Consider your most recent experience of Internet outrage. What was your response? Did you cause any needless harm? Were you harmed in any way?

PRAYER: Forgive us, Lord, for the needless harm our words have caused in your name. Give us the courage to seek to mend those we’ve torn up. Amen.

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