I understand loving an animal. I have cried at the loss of every dog and cat we ever had. I planted flowers on Magdi’s grave, one that blooms all summer and one that blooms spring and fall. The only time I can’t look out the window and know at a glance where she lies is the middle of winter. But she had her place and it wasn’t in my purse.
Some people treat pet peeves as if they were real pets, live creatures that must be fed and cared for. In fact, feeding is a good word for the way they nurture those peeves at every opportunity. Understand, I am not talking about matters of sin and morality, but things we like or don’t like, opinions we hold about certain behaviors, and even matters of courtesy. Courtesy is usually a cultural notion, not one of moral right and wrong. It may bug me to death to be in an elevator with someone yelling into a cell phone, but I doubt it will send him to hell.
If it is possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all, Rom 12:18. Nowadays, when our culture is calling on us to take a stand on things we used to take for granted, it is even more important that we not raise a fuss over the inconsequential. “Choose your battles,” we often say, something parents must learn so their children won’t view them as prison guards but as wise guides instead. We need to learn that in regard to pet peeves too.
When you take that unpopular moral stand, no one will listen if all you have done before is rant about minor things at every opportunity. No one will care what your opinion is or how well you back it with facts when they are used to tuning you out. If, on the other hand, you have always been fair-minded, cool-tempered, and tolerant of others’ social gaffes, making allowances for them without even being asked, when something comes along that actually causes you to stand up and speak, they are far more likely to pay attention—and consider.
It is also important to stifle those pet peeves with your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Be at peace among yourselves…seek peace and pursue it…suffer wrong [for the sake of peace]…be one…so that the world may know you have sent me, 1 Thes 5:13; 1 Pet 3:11; 1 Cor 6:7; John 17:22,23. God could not have made it plainer that how we get along with one another affects far more important things than our own personal agendas. Today we must be as tightly bound as the threefold cord spoken of in Eccl 4:12. We need one another when the world turns against us and labels us “hateful” simply because we exercise our American right to disagree and, much more important, our Christian obligation to speak out. If my reputation precedes me as an irrational ranter who isn’t worth listening to, it isn’t just myself I am hurting, but the Lord and His cause.
I must stop tending those pet peeves as if they were pedigreed pooches, when all they are is a crack in my armor. Who do you imagine rejoices the most when I lose it over a trifling matter of preferences? The Lord or Satan?
We are all sojourners on the same trip, stopping for a night at a second rate motel. No pets allowed.
A fool’s wrath is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult…a fool utters all his anger, but a wise man keeps it back and stills it…love covers a multitude of sins, Prov 12:16; 29:11; 1 Pet 4:8.