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It Didn’t Go Like He Planned

Neal Pollard

G. Gordon Liddy once related a bazaar story about a man, jilted by his girlfriend. Apparently, he tried to commit suicide in front of his rival (the girl’s new boyfriend). He pointed the pistol at his chin, pulled the trigger, and fully intended to die. However, the bullet somehow ricocheted off his teeth and fatally struck the other fellow. Intending to “end it all,” the young man was charged with manslaughter, third-degree murder, kidnapping, and assault.

That was not in his script. He had not planned it to go like that. He was going to show his counterpart, his girlfriend, and the rest of the world that his emotional wounds were so great that he was going to engineer his final exit strategy. How remarkably foolish!

How often, though less dramatically, does this occur? In words or actions, we tell others, “I’ll show you! You’ll be sorry!” With such haste and waste, we rashly do something we live to regret. We put our souls in jeopardy to get even with actions or words we perceive  offensive and injurious to us.

Solomon warned, “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding, but he that is hasty of spirit exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29). When we act without weighing the consequences, we rue the choice we make. Appropriately, the wise man again said, “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few” (Ecc. 5:2).

Spiteful actions are futile and sinful (Psa. 10:14; Luke 18:32). “Get even-ism” is a sickness and a symptom of worldliness. It disregards Christ’s mandate for God’s children to turn the other cheek (Luke 6:29). It is written, “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth” (Prov. 30:32). If everyone practiced this sage advice, fewer would overreact and more would overcome.

Think before you speak. Consider the consequences of rash decisions (remember Jephthah?). Avoid the tragedy of thoughtlessness. The failure to control our lives results in a punishment far outweighing a jail sentence.

Consider the words of this poem, written anonymously.

“Boys, flying kites, haul in their white-winged birds,
But you can’t do that when you’re flying words.
Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes drop back dead,
But naught can kill them when they’ve once been said.”

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The Price Of A Prank

Neal Pollard

A summer intern at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) apparently thought it would be funny to “confirm” the names of the four pilots of Asiana Flight 214 to a TV station in the bay area where the tragic crash occurred less than a week before the prank was played.  An Oakland news anchor read the false, insensitive names as the names appeared on screen.  It was horribly offensive.

While the intern no doubt thought it was funny (and perhaps others encouraged him and thought it was funny, too), he (or she) may feel differently today.  The intern was fired and both the TV station and the NTSB have profusely apologizes for the error.  Asiana Airlines has been seriously considering filing a lawsuit against the station for defamation.  Though the story will probably contain further developments, the damage done is considerable.

David once prayed, “Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments” (Ps. 119:66). Would you agree with me that demonstrating poor judgment is an all-too-common frailty with which many of us suffer?  Whether a hasty word  (see Prov. 29:20), impulsive action (cf. 2 Tim. 3:6; Ti. 3:3), or snap judgment (Prov. 18:13), the moment of thoughtlessness is often followed by a mountain of regret.

So many areas of life require sound judgment and forethought, whether big decisions like finances, relationships, education, and career or “little” decisions like how to respond to a store clerk or customer service agent, whether or not to tell the truth in a matter, or how to react to something harsh or negative that somebody says to you.

We never know how costly our rashness will be.  Jephthah could write a book about it (cf. Jud. 11:30ff).  May our prayer ever be, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).