James 1:19,20 – Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
My dog is what one would call small- to medium-size. She's generally friendly, a little too friendly perhaps, and thinks (or so it seems) that all people and other animals like her too.
This morning as we were on our regular walk, a familiar dog was approaching us with an unfamiliar man, and the dog was unleashed. This particular dog is rather large and had always been leashed before, had seemed friendly, but had walked with its mistress. Before either of us could do anything, the bigger dog attacked my dog, taking nips. The man commanded his dog to stop, but the dog didn't until he was leashed and pulled back.
The man was astonished, saying his dog had never done anything like that before. As calmly as I could, I told him that his dog really shouldn't be off-leash because it is common for unleashed dogs to attack leashed dogs, and that we never know what exactly it is that turns some dogs against others. Is it scent, sense, looks, size? Who knows?
Who knows what in us allows others to bring out our unpleasant qualities? Is it when we are "unleashed", not following or listening to our Master, that we lash out at others or they to us? When we are wandering along on our own, do we feel so sure of ourselves, knowing that our Master is there, that we take that extra step in the wrong direction?
We are told that we must strive to stop and think, listen more than we speak, be slow to anger or strike out; for when we are quick to anger and lash out, we are not in keeping with our Master's command.
Prayer: Help us, dear Lord, to strive to stay calm in rough situations; to listen and think before we speak; to strive to be slow to anger; to be kind to those who "push our buttons" and not allow them to "get to us". Help us to speak to you first, before replying to those who would upset us. In Your name we pray. Amen.