Mr. Potato Head has been around a long time.
I remember playing with one way back in my childhood. Mr. Potato Head could help illustrate a Bible verse that can help us overcome one of our gravest problems.
We have a problem today with division. Not the math kind, but the relationship kind. Families, churches, and in a greater sense all of society has difficulty solving division problems.
Family members remain at odds with one another because they refuse to take the difficult path to conflict resolution. Churches split and the cause of Christ suffers because members value their pride more than resolution. Myriad examples exist of the deep divisions in our society. Never before have I felt pulled in so many directions by others expecting me to “side” with their cause.
Whether a family squabble, church dissention, or societal division, I see a trend that people have lost their objectivity. Too many try to pull splinters out of the other side’s eye with a huge limb protruding from their own.
The BEST Math books provided in the back of the book answers to the the exercises at each chapter’s end. The answer to all of life’s division problems are not in the back of the book, but in the text. One particular Bible verse, with Mr. Potato Head’s expert illustrative assistance, can provides the answer we need.
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger… – James 1:19
Look at the adverbs in the verse above – quick and slow. James challenges us to be QUICK to listen but slow to speak and slow to get riled up. We seem to have them reversed these days. We are quick to speak up and get riled up, and we are not very good at listening.
Here is where Mr. Potato Head comes in handy. If you notice carefully he has two ear slots and only on mouth slot. You can choose different ears but you get to choose TWO. You can choose different lips, but only ONE set. God created us with twice as many ears as mouths. Maybe he expects us to listen twice as much as we speak.
The Way Forward
So how can we apply this verse – and Mr. Potato Head’s illustration – to our current division problems?
LISTEN. In the current social debate over racial inequality and national anthem protests, neither side is listening to the other. While one side accuses the other of disrespecting the flag, military, and country, the other side denies that is the intent. One side refuses to listen to why the other feels the way they do. Until we start LISTENING, we will never start understanding.
HUSH. In America, our constitution guarantees every individual the privilege of “free speech.” However, just because we have the RIGHT to speak freely doesn’t mean we should freely exercise that right. Until we HUSH, we will not start listening. And until we start listening, we will never start understanding.
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven… a time to be silent and a time to speak… – Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b
“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23
CHILL OUT. “Slow to anger” means having a long fuse. It’s OK to disagree with someone’s actions, but why give others the authority to determine your mood? Since when do I have the right to expect people to do things the way I want them? Can we learn to disagree without retaliating in a disagreeable fashion? Until we CHILL OUT, we will not hush. Until we hush, we will not start listening. And until we start listening, we will never start understanding.
Questions for Thought
What would happen if Colin Kaepernick and President Trump sat down for a few hours and LISTENED to each other? And what if some NFL players and Civic leaders did the same, LISTEN?
What if church members would sit down with each other and listen? And what if we put aside our felt need to advance our opinions and just listened to each other?
What if family members agreed to talk AND LISTEN to each other?
God gave us two ears and one mouth. Maybe we should start using them accordingly.