I’m fairly certain all of us at one time or another have said something we soon realized we shouldn’t have said. We wish we could take it back, but it can’t be undone. We can apologize and say we didn’t mean it, and that may help, but similar to what card players often say: “a card laid is a card played.”
Soon after we say something we regret someone who heard it often asks, “What in the world were you thinking?” And the most common answer is, “That’s the problem – I wasn’t thinking.”
Last week I read two statements that immediately prompted me to ask, “What was this person thinking?” And I concluded, “They could not have been thinking.”
The first thing that caused me to ask the question was a summary of a Missouri pastor’s suggestion in his sermon last week. His suggestion was trending on social media and made the national news as well. He suggested that wives who “let themselves go is the reason husbands stray sexually.” My first thought was what in the world was this man thinking? My conclusion: he could not have been thinking!
As a husband and pastor I was stunned and disappointed to read this pastor’s inappropriate observation. I’m not interested in giving an opinion on why men stray, but I think it is far more complicated than the pastor’s shallow thought.
The second thing that caused me to ask the question was a piece we received in the mail from a church. There was no invitation to the church, but six passages from the Bible that all spoke about judgement. The front of the piece was in red, orange, and yellow with one verse, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” –Psalm 9:17
Having just read about the mailer we received from a church, I think you too are probably asking the question, “What in the world were the leaders of this church thinking?” Perhaps they were thinking they could scare some people to come to church, but I don’t think it is going to create much interest or bring many people. As a pastor I was surprised and disappointed by the mailer.
The question “what were you thinking?” usually implies you weren’t thinking. In reflecting on all of this I’ve realized that there are times when we are more likely to say something without thinking: when we’re angry, when we’re trying to be funny, when we want to impress someone, when we’re tired, or when we are frustrated. The challenge, of course, is to think about what we say all the time, but especially during those times when we may not be thinking. Perhaps we all should echo David’s prayer, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
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