However, it doesn’t take more than one instance of carelessness to discover just how easily they will break. Mine usually make it home from the grocery store in one piece, in spite of being placed in a cooler with a couple of bags of groceries and an ice block, and then traveling thirty miles, the last half mile over a bumpy lime rock lane. Only once in over 30 years have I opened my cooler to find eggs that have tumbled out and cracked all over the other groceries.
You must also be careful where you put them on the counter. Most recipes require ingredients at room temperature, so I take the butter and eggs out a half hour or more before I plan to use them. I quickly learned to put them in a small bowl so they couldn’t possibly roll off the countertop onto the floor, even if I did think I had them safely corralled by other ingredients. Somehow they only roll when you turn your back. As I recall, that recipe required a lot of eggs, and suddenly I was short a couple.
Because of their relative fragility, we have developed the idiom “walking on eggshells.” When the situation is tricky, when someone is already on a short fuse, we tread carefully with our words, as if we were walking carefully, trying not to break the eggshells under our feet. Sometimes that is a good thing. No one wants to hurt a person who has just experienced a tragedy. No one wants to carelessly bring up a topic that might hinder the growth of a babe in Christ. Certainly no one wants to put out a spark of interest in the gospel. But sometimes the need to walk on eggshells is a shame, especially when the wrong people have to walk on them.
I suppose every congregation has one of those members who gives everyone pause; one who has hot buttons you do your best not to push; one who seems to take offense at the most innocuous statements or actions. The shame of it is this: in nearly every case I can remember, that person is over 50, and most over 60. “You know old brother so-and-so,” everyone will tell newcomers. “You have to be careful what you say around him.” Why is it that younger Christians must negotiate minefields around an older Christian who should have grown in wisdom and forbearance?
Do you think God has nothing to say about people like this?
The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. Pro 12:16
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Pro 10:12
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Pro 19:11
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor 13:7
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet 4:8.
Now let’s put that all together. A person who is quick to take offense, who is easily set off when a certain topic arises, who seems to make a career out of hurt feelings is a fool, imprudent, full of hate instead of love, divisive, and lacking good sense. That’s what God says about the matter. He didn’t walk on eggshells.
On the other hand, the person who overlooks insults, who doesn’t take everything the worst possible way, who makes allowances for others’ foibles, especially verbal ones, and who doesn’t tell everyone how hurt or insulted he is, is wise, prudent, sensible, and full of love. Shouldn’t that describe any Christian, especially one who has been at if for thirty or forty years?
So, let’s take a good look at ourselves. Do people avoid me? Am I defensive, and quick to assume bad motives? Do I find myself insulted or hurt several times a week? Do I keep thinking that everyone is out to get me in every arena of life? Maybe I need to realize that I am not the one that everyone always has in mind when they speak or act. I am not, after all, the center of the universe. Maybe it’s time I acted the spiritual age I claim to be.
Maybe I need to sweep up a few eggshells.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Col 3:12-14.