Beware of the dog!

(John Angell James, "Christian Fellowship" 1822)

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"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

There are some people whose feelings are like dry straw—kindled into a blaze in a moment, by the least spark which has been purposely or accidentally thrown upon it. A word, or a look—is in some cases quite enough to be considered a very serious injury! It is a common thing for such people to excuse themselves on the ground that "their feelings are so delicate"—that they are offended by the least touch! This is a humiliating confession, for it is acknowledging that instead of being like the oak of the forest, which laughs at the tempest, and is unmoved by the tread of the wild boar—they resemble the sensitive plant, a little squeamish shrub, which trembles before the breeze, and shrivels and contracts beneath the pressure of a tiny insect!

Delicate feelings? In plain English, this means that they are petulant, irritable and peevish! I would like to have a sign hung around the neck of such people—and it would be this, "Beware of the dog!"

We should never allow ourselves to be offended, until, at least, we are sure that offense was intended; and this is really not so often as we are apt to conclude. Had we but patience to wait, or humility to inquire, we would find that many hurtful things were done by mistake, which we are prone to attribute to design. How often do we violate that love which thinks no evil and which imperatively demands of us to attribute a good motive to another's conduct—until a bad motive is proved!

Let us then deliberately determine, that, by God's grace, we will not be easily offended. If such a resolution were generally made and kept, offenses would cease. Let us first ascertain whether offense was intended, before we allow the least emotion of anger to be indulged. And even then, when we have proved that the offense was committed on purpose, let us next ask ourselves whether it is necessary to notice it. What wise man will think it worth while when an insect has stung him, to pursue it all day in order to punish the aggressor?

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
Colossians 3:12-14