I was reminded of that trip this morning. Our home sits under some monstrous live oaks. They deliver cooling, and budget-saving, shade in the summer, but in the fall, they provide a handy pantry for the local fauna. We have done our best to shoo those varmints away for the sake of the aviary we have set up around us, both feeders and houses. That means more acorns remain to fall on our metal roof.
About six-thirty, when the morning breezes pick up, the barrage began. I do not know if it is the metal or if our acorns just happen to be heavier or larger than the average acorn, but it did not sound like pieces of shell gently falling from a limb above—it sounded like a bunch of monkeys throwing coconuts as hard as they could just to see what sort of trouble they could cause. We were up early on a Saturday morning whether we wanted to be or not.
I have some brethren like that. Sometimes things need to be said, granted. Souls are at stake. The Word of God must be defended. But do we have to throw coconuts at six AM? Does a preacher need to be castigated on the church house doorstep in front of visitors from the community and new converts when we disagree with a sermon? Do we need to waylay a sister at a potluck where, even in the corner of the room, everyone can see what's going on—especially if she runs out the door crying?
When we do what has to be done, some acorn pieces will inevitably fall on the tent roof and wake people up—but that's the point, isn't it? Waking them up, not beating them down. If time and opportunity are short we may need to take a deep breath and do what needs to be done no matter what others may think, but hurling coconuts as hard as possible just to cause trouble is a far cry from the empathy that does its best to reach another's heart with as little collateral damage as possible. That is why so many preachers will dare to remind the wayward children at a funeral, "Your mother wants nothing more than to be with you again in Eternity. Look at yourself and do what you need to do to make that happen." Most of the time, the mothers have asked those preachers to say just that. They are not monkeys with coconuts; they are doing their best to be a squirrel with an acorn.
So today, ask yourself why you do what you do. Are you really concerned for souls, or do you just want to be the center of controversy, the one who gets to show that sinner what's what? Are you quietly eating your acorns, or are you just a monkey throwing coconuts as hard as you can?
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Gal 6:1-3