Summary: Sometimes we have bad days and often bad feelings transfer from one person to the next. How do we deal with that as people called by God?
Zig Ziglar tells a story of a successful big city business man named Mr. B. who ends up being late to work one day because of traffic. In the process he misses an important phone call. Irritated at traffic, Mr. B. calls in one of his managers into his office and yells at him about some missing reports he needed YESTERDAY! And guess what....the manager leaves the office noticeably upset.
He stomps right past his secretary and closes the door. She rings into his office and tells him she has an urgent message. He snarls at her, “My door was closed! Can’t you see I’m busy? Leave me alone.” The secretary doesn’t know what hit her. Now SHE is upset and she spends the rest of the day stewing about it wondering what she did that was so wrong.
When she gets home she is still upset. She passes her 16 year old son’s bedroom. It is a grand mess. She hunts him down and finds him planted in front of the television set playing a video game. And she snaps. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 1000 times, clean your room. Your grounded from electronics until your room is spotless.”
The teenager storms upstairs and heads to his bedroom. And guess who should cross his path but the family pet, "Fluffy" the cat. Without warning the teenager swings his foot back and lets’ fly. He gives Fluffy the cat a swift kick across the room. Fur flies as the cat skitters under the table wondering what it did that was so wrong.
Has the scene ever played out in your home? Zig Ziglar asks this question. He asks, “Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier on everybody if Mr. B went to the secretary’s home and kicked the cat himself?”
In this world, bad feelings tend to transfer. If you are like me, you have also been guilty of kicking the proverbial cat. I think its human nature that when things go from bad to worse to want someone to share in the experience with us. And if someone else needs to feel bad in the process so be it. So we each kick the family cat.
As we continue our series, Living Out Salvation in a World That’s Suffering, the apostle Peter seems concerned about this tendency.
Turn with me to 1 Peter 3:8-12 as we look at this tendency and as we explore what we should do about it. Do you remember the context of Peter’s letter? Peter is writing to a group of Christians living in Asia Minor who have fled government sponsored persecution in Rome. The have lost family members, homes, and livelihoods. To put it succinctly, they have had the mother of bad days. And Peter urges them, “Don’t kick the cat.”
Listen to what he writes. Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (3:8)
When I hear, “In harmony”, I think of car trips with my family. My wife and my daughters like to sing. And God has blessed them with beautiful voices. Sometimes when they sing, one will keep the melody while the other drops to harmonize. It’s beautiful to hear.
If you are like me, songs with a harmony blended in are so much better than the melody alone. Two voices are better than one. But this isn’t always the case.
On our trip to Worlds of Fun, we had 14 teenagers in the van. 14 people could have made a beautiful choir. But there were on more than one occasion several different songs being sung. Rather than beautiful harmony, voices conflicted as different people vied for their song to be heard.
Peter is urging the believers in Asia Minor to live in harmony with one another. Don’t be different voices fighting for the airwaves. Instead, blend your voices together in a beautiful song. Good harmony requires those participating to know where the other singers have been and where they are going.
Peter isn’t talking about worship music though. A study of the original language reveals that the word “harmony” combines two words in the original language. The first word means “the same.” The second part means, “Understanding on an emotional level”
Peter is urging the church to have the same understanding of one another on an emotional level. It’s not a choice to simply try and get along. This interpretation only scratches the surface of what Peter is imploring the church in Asia Minor to do. Peter is urging Christians to be of one feeling toward one another. It’s not just a mind thing, although understanding is involved. He wants us each to understand the emotion or purpose behind the thought.