Do harsh times bring out the best or worst in us humans? The answer is YES, in bold print. The recent five years under Covid-19 restrictions may be a modern real life illustration of both. Yes, I know it hasn't actually been five years. It has just seemed like that at times. We don't usually measure such things with any degree of accuracy. When our freedoms and movement are limited the time seems to pass a little slower. So, let's exaggerate them with that egocentric scoreboard we all keep activated in our personal comparative systems. My wait times are longer than yours and the inconvenience of Covid-19 has been worse for me than anyone else. My time, work, decisions, and activity are more important than yours anyway. You know the deal.
All of us have witnessed the willing sacrificial labors of friends, family, and unknowns serving others during the pandemic. They've done it without much recognition or expectation of acknowledgement. The best of the human species have served our medical needs, have stood watch over our safety and emergency requirements, answered our banking and financial questions, kept us as up to date as possible with factual data about the virus, picked up the trash, stocked grocery shelves, and been on guard about system abuses. We've applauded them from the sidelines, provided meals when needed, and given thanks to heaven for their faithful commitment. Well, for the most part.
There's also been plenty of dissension, argument, criticism, and bad vibes in the media and in our personal responses to decisions made for the common good. Once again, we have this provocative internal scoreboard that analyzes, questions, and finds fault when actions veer away from our personal assessments. Some of us are just contentious. We like to stir the pot, raise a little ire, produce some drama, and create some agitation about many of the outcomes we've experienced over the last couple of months. Shoot, spend some time on social media an observe the millions of contagious disease experts, political consultants, research operatives, and other specialists this virus has created. Sure, this things has brought the best of us forward with selfless servanthood. Just the same, critics have been loud and divisive. Fake news has us all wondering.
At root in this thing, at least in many cases, is the belief that we could do it al better than the people entrusted with guarding the safety and well-being of our population. And, that's a flawed concept, this idea that we're smarter than everyone else. My personal Christian worldview drives me to Scripture for some answers about contentious people and their influence on us all. A favorite Scripture in this regard is the Apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthian believers. He was defending his own ministry and warning them about the false teachers who had infiltrated their church. Catch this---
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are
commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and
compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
2 Corinthians 10: 12, ESV
It's really a profound truth that comparison with others is without understanding, especially when such comparison is so critical. The Apostle Paul wrote much of our New Testament, guided by God in that assignment. But, he evidently wasn't a gifted speaker. Those false teachers sought to discount his influence by comparing their abundant gifts to his, which were less evident.
That's the trouble with our scoreboard tabulations. Rarely do we see the whole picture. My personal scoreboard is weighted by my opinion of self. And, it's rarely accurate. The man in the mirror is more what I'd like to be and less who I really am. That scoreboard often makes me contentious. And, that doesn't really help anybody.
That's the deal this week. Contentious people often push us to the edge. So, let's discuss how to deal with them.