Thump. Thump. Thump.
It’s 4:00 A.M. on a Friday morning. I do NOT want to be awake! But that noise is driving me crazy. It sounds like a drip. At least the rhythm of it does, but the sound is too wooden to be water hitting a sink. And it’s coming from the wrong direction to be a leaky faucet.
Thump. Thump. Thump. I’ll just ignore it and go to sleep.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
There is no ignoring it! So, the search is on. Following my ear through the house, I’m drawn to the chimney. Uh, oh. It is a leak! Rain is slipping through the roof by the chimney and falling inside the wall. It sounds like a bass drummer in a bad parade!
Nobody likes a drip! And nobody likes to be nagged. That’s why long ago Solomon compared nagging women to a leaking roof. “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day,” he wrote (Proverbs 27:15). Of course, let me quickly add (before the women start quarreling with me!) that men can be nags, too. Bosses can. Even preachers! (Maybe, especially preachers.)
We see things that aren't as they should be. We are fooled into thinking that fussing will help. So we nag our kids, “You’re room is always such a pig sty!” We gripe repeatedly to a friend, “You’re always late!” Or to a spouse we constantly harp, “You never listen!”
Notice that none of those nagging words actually suggest any solution or provide any incentive for change, however. Nagging and quarreling rarely seem to improve situations. Fortunately, there must be a more productive approach.
Even regarding the most important matters, God says, “The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:24). There is a difference between quarreling and kindly teaching. One solves a problem; the other just attacks it and exaggerates it.
Solutions to conflicts are a bit like dogs. We can scream at them, “Get over here, you mangy beast!” Or we can call them gently. Which do you suppose works best?
“Pleasant words promote instruction,” says Proverbs 16:21, but “reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). Fussing about my leaky roof won’t repair it. But, a polite invitation to a roofer may get it patched. May God help me today to patch the drips instead of being one.