Yesterday while watching The Five on Fox, they had a light hearted segment with the caption “Half of Americans pretend not to see a mess so others can clean it.”
A recent poll of 2,000 Americans on Spring Cleaning, reported by the New York Post, revealed that 90% become anxious about cleaning their home. Additionally, “49% admit to “always” or “often” pretending to not see a mess so someone else can clean it instead.”
Of course, The Five had a lot of fun joking about walking past or around some mess waiting for their spouse or someone else to clean it up.
I couldn’t help but think that attitude of avoidance seems to carry over into some other more serious situations and relationships in life.
How many husbands ignore their wife’s feelings, her subtle suggestions, and sometimes even her outright anger, hoping it will go away? There have been occasions when couples have come to me for advice, and when I ask “How can I help?” the husband acts as if nothing is wrong. And he doesn’t know why they are there. When the wife shares the problem and her frustration, he acts totally surprised.
Communication is the key to dealing with problems in our marital relationships. Being open. Honest. And observant. And being willing to admit there is a mess and doing our part to clean it up. The problem won’t disappear by itself. Furthermore, applying the Biblical admonitions of mutual love, respect, and serving each other’s needs go a long way in cleaning up messes on a daily basis (1 Cor 13; Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Pet. 3:7).
In a similar way, I’ve observed problems in local congregations and everyone seems to walk around it. Or be afraid to talk about it or address it. It may be with a contentious member, who’s constantly stirring up trouble. If someone dares to ask about it, the excuse is offered, “Oh, that’s just the way he is.” And so, everyone avoids addressing the issue.
I recall an occasion many years ago, of a problem I learned about where I was preaching. When I went to one of the elders to ask what was being done to solve it, he sheepishly said, “We’re just trying to lay low. And wait for it to blow over.” That’s not leadership. Nor being a problem solver. It certainly isn’t watching out for and guarding the sheep (Ax. 20:28-32.)
When we see the spiritual mess in a person’ life what should we do about it? The Bible says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:1-2). Pretending the problem doesn’t exist, could spell spiritual disaster for the wayward brother or sister.
When a person has sinned against you personally, what do you do? Try to forget it? Ignore it? Talk to others about it? Or do you attempt to clean up the mess?
Jesus offered a step by step process of solving the problem when a person trespasses against another (Matt. 18:15-18). It begins with these words. “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” In other words, take personal responsibility to clean up the mess. Don’t wait for the elders, or someone else to intervene.
Is there a hurt in your life that needs to be healed? Is there a person who needs to be forgiven? Is there a wrong that needs to be righted? Is there change that needs to be implemented? Is there a pressing problem that needs solving? Is there a mess that needs to be cleaned up?
The mess will never be cleaned up by avoiding it. Neglecting it. Or pretending it doesn’t exist. Sadly, just like the mess in our homes that we become accustomed to, we can walk by a moral or spiritual mess long enough that we don’t notice it anymore.
The scriptural warnings against self-deception (Gal. 6:7; Jas. 1:16) will help us to open our eyes, see the mess, and work to clean it up.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
5 responses to “Are You Pretending to Avoid a Mess?”
A very thoughtful post; however, there are times when waiting, and not acting, is just what the Lord wants us to do. Every situation is different, and requires prayer, wisdom and discernment.
Excellent point. Reminds me of the passage in Psalms that says “wait upon the Lord. “. Thanks for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment
Don’t sweat the small stuff and it is all small stuff.
Seek and peace and pursuit. Hire a housekeeper.
I never watch Fox News.
Thanks for making this observation. It’s good thought and the idea of ‘someone else will’ impacts so many areas of our society. We appreciate your thoughts on this (and other) topics!
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