5th September 2011

Do You Play The Escalator Game?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Philippians 2:3 (NIV UK)

There was a Texan bragging to an Englishman about the size of his farm.  He was saying that he could drive all day and not get to the end of his land.  The Englishman looked pensive, and then replied, “Yeah, I had a car like that once!”

It is natural to swap stories and try to top the last story with one better.  This can be a bit of fun, unless the unconscious purpose is to make someone else seem stupid or incompetent, while making ourselves look better than that person.

This is one version of the ‘Escalator Game’, but the other version is even more harmful and destructive. That is when someone says or does something mean, unkind, thoughtless or hurtful, and our natural reaction is to respond with something hurtful back in retaliation.  The trouble is, the next time you have to say something worse to have the same effect, and so, each time, it escalates until it becomes irrepairable.

Years ago in a class on family relations, I was taught a principle that I have tried to live by—guard your words, because once said, they cannot be taken back.  If it isn’t constructive, DON’T SAY IT!  Jesus said a similar thing in Matthew 5:37, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Jesus also taught us that we do not have to respond with like for like, when he said to turn the other cheek.  This is particularly hard because we perceive if we don’t answer to point out the other person’s offences, then we are perceived as the only offenders.

The book of Proverbs addresses this with a seemingly contradictory proverb that says ‘answer a fool’, and then in the next verse, ‘don’t answer a fool’ (Proverbs 26:4-5 KJV).  You don’t always have to answer—your answer may prove you to be just as much a fool!

There is a saying, “Fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, and nudge me when I’ve said enough”.  In the long run we can be sure that God can handle it, as he says in Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:  It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.”

Father, help us to esteem, not pull down others, despite their ill treatment of us.  Give us wisdom and humility to appropriately answer or not answer.

Study by Nancy Silcox

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