Timing Is Everything.
“A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse.” – Proverbs 27:14 NLT
When my wife was growing up, she was regularly woken up early on Saturday mornings by the sound of two pans being banged together as her father attempted to get the family up for breakfast. I remember the first time she told me that story, I couldn’t help but have homicidal thoughts. Just the idea of someone waking me up in such a noisy, obnoxious way on the one day I could sleep in was too much for me. While I’m sure he meant well, there had to be a better way. I can’t read the verse above and not think about this story. And I think my wife inherited some of her father’s traits, because when our children were young she would wake them up each morning by yelling up the stairs, “Rise and shine! This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” You could hear the groans coming from upstairs as the kids covered their ears with their pillows, pulled the covers up over their heads and attempted to go back to sleep. Not once did they rise and shine or rejoice in the day that the Lord had made. No, their demeanor was less than cheery and their outlook on the morning, far from positive.
While no real harm was done by my father-in-law or my wife, these stories remind me how important timing and tact cab be when it comes to our relationships with others. A lot of hurt and harm can be done by well-meaning individuals, all because they fail to think about how their actions might be perceived and received by others. Even the right words spoken at the wrong time can be hurtful. How many times have you had someone quote you a verse of Scripture when you were going through a difficult time, only to have that passage feel like fingernails on a chalkboard rather than encouraging words? Hearing the words, “All things work together for good” when you are in the midst of difficulties is not always uplifting or encouraging. Having someone cheerfully remind you that “God loves you!” when you are feeling unloved and uncared for, does not change your outlook or your circumstances. If anything, it may reinforce your feelings of abandonment and isolation. It may even make you angry.
When reading the verse above, I can’t help but think about Ecclesiastes 3, the chapter made famous by the song “Turn, Turn, Turn,” sung by Roger McGuin and the Byrds. The Book of Ecclesiastes was also written by King Solomon and in chapter 3, he reminds us about the importance of timing. He says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT). In God’s grand design, there is a time for everything. He goes on to elaborate.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
Timing is everything. There are times when banging pots and pans together is appropriate, and there are times when it is not. There are times when a cheerful greeting is encouraging, and there are times when it is anything but that. The point is that we need to assess the situation and determine the right action or words for the right moment. There are going to be those times when the right thing is to listen, not speak. There will be occasions where we simply cry with someone rather than try to fix them or quote Scripture at them. The challenge is to know how to determine the right response for each and every occasion. That takes wisdom. And wisdom comes from God. Only He can give us the discernment we need to offer the right response at the right time, each and every time.
Father, I desire the discernment to know how to respond well. I don’t want to be someone who means well, but ends up doing harm in the long run. I need Your wisdom and insight so that I know how to offer the right response at just the right time. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men