We’ve all experienced the sinking feeling.
It happens in the same instance our fingertip strokes the “send” button and off into the World Wide Web goes our vitriol-laced diatribe on all of the perceived injustices and indignities caused by an about-to-be mortified recipient.
And then, almost instantly, the blood drains from our face, and we’re overwhelmed with the realization of the permanency and foolishness of our e-mail.
What have I done!
At one point in my life I literally found myself crawling down on the floor trying to disconnect the Internet cable from the back of my computer in a failed attempt to intercept my errant missile. Another time, after instantly realizing I sent off a poorly worded e-mail to one of my employees, I rushed to their computer and deleted it before they had a chance to read it, grateful they were away from their desk.
Aww…the “delete” button. That greatest of inventions which allows us to erase our mistakes with effortlessness. It’s a miracle cure for just about everyone, but this is especially true for Christians who are called to a higher standard of extending grace and understanding to others.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4: 1-2
This glorious delete button has applications that go well beyond the computer.
How many hateful words have come from our mouths which should have been deleted before uttered? How many times have we lashed out in anger only to discover we were mistaken in our rush to judgement?
In the past I struggled with another form of technology; the intercom on my telephone. I would catch wind of something disturbing and would instantly dial up one of my staff and lay into them before I had even a partial understanding of the full story.
As it turned out, in almost all occurrences I was wrong in jumping to conclusions! I would then need to rely on the same technology to apologize, time and time again.
If only I had used the delete button.
I had a good friend of mine once counsel me with wisdom. He said, “Michael, why are you operating as if you’re always running out of time?”
His observation was simple, yet profound.
What makes us think we need to respond immediately? Why do we need to solve our issues right away? Does that e-mail really need to go out today or should we pray about it for a day and come back to it tomorrow?
In all instances when I’ve practiced this exercise in patience and prayerful contemplation, my e-mail has ended up with either major edits or getting gratefully zapped by the delete button. This is usually followed by a deep sigh and a “What was I thinking?”
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
God is about patience and perseverance. The enemy is about hurrying and being rash.
When we acquire a sharp discerning of this critical difference in the voices we hear, we start to operate with godliness and wisdom. Apologizing is a good thing. But not having to is even better.
Dealing with difficult issues is like cooking a brisket. If you just throw it on the grill and hurry the cooking it will come out burnt and tasteless.
But if you slow cook it over time, it will come out sweet, tender and incredibly satisfying.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Relationship conflicts are challenging and uncomfortable. But they also provide an opportunity for us to experience the beauty of God’s grace and healing.
The delete button isn’t just about avoiding mistakes. It’s about operating with a spirit humility and forgiveness.
And ultimately, it’s about us demonstrating our gratitude for the sacrifice Jesus made in pressing the delete button on our sins.
Click here to learn more about gifted author Michael K. Reynolds