The late writer F. W. Boreham told the story of a critic named Crittingden who continually criticised the writer’s work.
In anger and exasperation, he decided to write a flaming letter designed to sting and rebuke the complainer.
As he walked to the mailbox to post the letter, his mind was on other things and because it was such a lovely night for a stroll, he inadvertently passed by the mailbox without dropping the letter in.
Consequently, he decided to mail it on the way back.
A little further on he met a friend who said, ‘‘Poor old Crittingden is dead’’.
Boreham was shocked, ‘‘Is he, indeed? When did this happen?’’
‘‘Oh, he died suddenly, early this afternoon. It’s really for the best, you know. He’s had a really hard time. You know all about it, I suppose?’’
‘‘No, I didn’t,’’ Boreham said.
‘‘Oh, I thought everyone knew. He only had two children, a son and a daughter. The son was killed soon after his wife died, and the daughter lost her mind and is in an asylum. Poor old Crittingden never got over it. It totally soured him.’’
Boreham returned to his fireside that night, humbled and ashamed.
He tore the letter into small fragments and burned them one by one.
And as he knelt before the blaze, he prayed that he, in days to come, might find the grace to deal gently and lovingly with difficult people, even as he wished they might have the grace to treat him.
As well as Jesus’ encouragement for us to treat others as we would like to be treated, there is another lesson we can learn from this story.
That is, it is easy for us to say that it is a person’s choice to be bitter, but often it is the only way some people know how to cope.
I wonder if this man’s life would have been any different if there had of been someone around to offer a gentle word and a listening ear during and after his time of need.
Rather than react to criticism in an aggressive manner, wouldn’t it be better to respond in the way the Bible tells us with a gentle answer that turns away wrath?
It is something we can all do! I realise I touched on this theme several weeks ago, but in this day of often vicious and vindictive language, particularly on social media, we can all play our part by examining our reactions and our words so we don’t further fuel the fire.
-George Deeble, Euroa Christian Fellowship