When I was a boy, I had a Beagle dog. He was a faithful dog. He went everywhere with me that he was allowed to go. When he died, I cried. So, you can imagine how strange it might be that I didn’t mind being bitten by my own dog. Let me explain.
Tip was inquisitive and a face-off with a porcupine almost took his face off. The most painful part was the quill removal; each one was deeply embedded and the barbs made it an agonizing ordeal. It wasn’t long before Tip would nip and snap at me with each removal. He didn’t mean to hurt me (although, every now and then, it did!). He was hurting, and the automatic response was to snap at the nearest thing, even his closest companion.
I think of this incident every time a Christian says something hurtful or criticizes hatefully. I assume they are trying as hard as I am to go to heaven and that they love the brethren (1 Peter 1:22). Therefore, there must be pain in their lives of which I know nothing. I hope, as Christians, they don’t mean to hurt me but sometimes their pain must be so severe that their automatic response, even toward those who would try to help, is to nip and snap. I have to admit, sometimes, it hurts. But, as a Christian, I must understand; it happens even between the best of friends.
Sanitation is never an issue between a young boy and his dog. When the quills were removed, Tip lovingly licked the wounds he had inflicted on me; even a faithful dog knows how to say, “I’m sorry.” Shouldn’t these same courtesies be afforded those in the family of God when they stumble or struggle with life’s pain (1 John 4:11-12)?