Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsTuesday 12 Jan 2021Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
I like the story of a lady named Barbara Bennett in Washington who decided to sell her Brother brand sewing machine. She did a reasonable thing: she placed a classified ad in her local newspaper. Under the headings ‘Miscellaneous’ and ‘Items under $50’, she bought space in The Columbian newspaper.
So far so good—nothing unusual about that. But the problem was that the advertisement didn’t come out exactly as intended. Somewhere along the line from purchase to copy editing to printing, the words ‘sewing machine’ got lost. So Ms Bennett wound up offering a ‘Brother‘ for sale! She has two brothers as a matter of fact, and insists she wouldn’t part with either of them.
So the announcement must have raised some eyebrows. And it got some responses. One person called her and was given the corrected information—that it was a sewing machine rather than a person on the block. Thank you! came the response, and the caller hung up. Another person called the number in the ad and wanted to know if the price was negotiable!
Well, it all ended harmlessly enough, because the paper ran a corrected ad. And one of Barbara’s brothers said, It’s okay. I needed a good laugh. But not every act of misunderstanding ends so well. Have you ever been misunderstood? Barbara certainly was—it was an editor’s mistake, which caused some embarrassment and misunderstanding.
Did You ever Experience Misunderstanding?
What about you:
- Have you been guilty of poor communication?
- Had a key word dropped from or added to your message?
- Did someone not hear what you said, and assumed something else entirely?
- Maybe you’ve been judged harshly by someone who read a false motive into something you said or did?
I’m sure something along those lines has happened to you.
Sometimes misunderstandings can be cleared up through fuller and better information. At other times, the person who misjudged a situation catches on, feels foolish, and takes the initiative. Sometimes there is nothing to be done—except try to go on with your life, without bitterness.
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Jesus too was Misunderstood
Jesus knows about being misunderstood. His home life, for example, was less than ideal because his own brothers made fun of the notion that his life had a divine mission. When he preached in Nazareth, his boyhood home, the people dismissed him as a nobody. Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? they asked.
Jesus must have felt terribly alone when people misread and misjudged him. The worst came, of course, when he was betrayed by one of his friends and left to be judged by a Roman bureaucrat who was clueless to understand a kingdom ‘not of this world’. In that terrible mess, he told his apostles: “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32 – NIV).
“He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” John 1:11 – CEV
When misunderstanding leaves you abandoned, God’s presence is the secret to survival. As you read the New Testament, it becomes obvious that Jesus was misunderstood. John 1:11 (CEV) says, “He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him”. One day he was teaching to a crowd of people and many people misunderstood him:
The people took sides because of what Jesus had told them. Many of them said, “He has a demon in him! He’s crazy! Why listen to him?” (John 10:19-20 – CEV)
In 1974 a Jesuit priest, Cardinal Jean Daniélou, died of a sudden heart attack on the staircase of a seedy block of flats, on his way to visit a prostitute. The newspapers were filled with nasty innuendo, but his friends knew that he was a deeply pastoral man, who followed the way of his Lord and was not afraid to reach out to the despised, whatever people might say.
He went to help one of the girls, and had done nothing wrong. But he was greatly misunderstood and judged wrongly.
(To be continued in Trouble with Being Misunderstood – Part 2)