31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31 ~ (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
As you might imagine, I’ve heard a lot of sermons and taken a lot of Bible classes in my life. Pastors are taught the Scriptures when they’re preparing to enter the ministry, and they continue to learn as a part of their daily lives. But something I’ve noticed is that some of my most enduring lessons weren’t taught to me in a church service or a seminary class. Instead, somebody told me something profound while we were going about our ordinary lives.
Let me tell you a story. When I was 18 years old, I was a Bible college student at a very small Christian college. All of my professors preached revivals in addition to their teaching duties. Because every traveling preacher needs a song leader, I sometimes accompanied various professors to lead singing at their meetings. Often when I rode with these men of God, I learned as much during the car ride as I did from the sermon.
At the beginning of one such trip, the evangelist I was traveling with read his mail before we set out on our journey. Reading a letter from a businessman in our brotherhood, he turned his head and shut his eyes with a pained look on his face. He looked as if something had pierced his heart.
He read aloud part of the letter, revealing the writer’s threatening words of anger and hate. He then said, “I wish I had not read this letter before we left for the meeting. John, never forget: ‘There is no room for meanness in the Christian life.’”
I’ve never forgotten those words: “There is no room for meanness in the Christian life.” Even though I don’t always succeed, I try to live by them because they are the truth. I think we’re all tempted to do things that are petty and to repay insult with insult when we’re angry. It’s then that we have to remember that, as Christians, we are called by our Saviour to live lives of love. For anything else, there just isn’t room.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 30 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the outdoor-cats are growing their winter coats for cooler weather.) Their kids include Spencer (age 24), his wife Madeline (age 24), and Seth (age 21). You can send him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.