Friday, November 04, 2016

"On the Brink"

James 3.13 NAS

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.”

“The gentleness of wisdom” sounds too nice for me. I confess I do not care for overly ‘nice’ people. I prefer men and women with a little ‘bite’. I fear nice people cannot be trusted to complete difficult tasks. They will cave at the first sign of resistance. In the name of cooperation, their ‘nice-ness’ becomes easily manipulated by those whose agenda is not as nice.

I am afraid of becoming a ‘nice guy.’ I don’t expect (nor do I want) to see “He was a nice guy” on my tombstone. ‘Nice’ is not the first descriptor that springs to mind when someone thinks of me. The whole idea of ‘nice’ conjures up in me an image of a wimpy, milk-toast guy who is driven along like a dry leaf wherever the wind of social mores takes him. He is Clark Kent without the super powers. The color of his thoughts change like a chameleon and far too easily adapt to the shade of surrounding opinions. I do not respect ‘nice guys,’

My self respect depends upon my determination to remain true to my convictions. I will often ‘stick to my guns’ even when it is not popular, personally advantageous, politically correct, or a very ‘nice’ to do so. During times of serious reflection on verses like James 3.13, however, I find myself wondering if ‘sticking to my guns’ is code for ‘stuck in the mud’? Am I man of conviction, or just plain stubborn? I assume there is no redeeming value in the absolute refusal to change. The distinction between holding high standards and being a jerk may be very, very thin.

In a 1956 interview, then President Dwight Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles said:
“The ability to get to the verge without getting into war is the necessary art. If you try to run away from it, if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost.”

I am not afraid to “get to the verge” however I suspect I fight some battles I don’t need to. Perhaps a good dose of “the gentleness of wisdom” will keep me from plummeting over the edge when I am on the brink of my next personal war.


"Coming Soon - Mr. Nice Guy!" photo is by Los Angeles photographer Marc Horowitz at It is used here with Marc's kind permission.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dave, awesome conversation on Friday morning. Enjoy hearing all the different perspectives of the guys. Not worried that there are too many "nice guys" in our group as I will occasionally heare some debate and healty disagreement. Have an awesome day. Looking forward to posting on 1 Peter chapter # 1.

----Jim Murphy, AKA, Cedar Mill Madness