Vol.III No.IX Pg.3
October 1966

Shoulder Chips

Robert F. Turner

"He walked right past me and did not even speak!"

It never occurs to the self-centered man that perhaps you were on your way to great a visitor -- about whom he should have been thinking. It may have been a compliment to the man you passed -- thinking him a faithful brother who did not need the attention you felt another required. But the chip on his shoulder is delicately balanced, and woe to him who moves it. Such childishness ill-becomes any Christian. We must out-grow it.

Shoulder-chips are prime indicators of self-centeredness, and are usually coupled with a feeling of inferiority -- although the victim may never admit as much. The basic remedy is to lose self- in the service of the Lord. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Matt. 16:24-25)

The most lowly Christian (as men reckon) is a brother of the Lord, and should hold his head high. (Heb.2: 11) Such men learn to do nothing through strife or vainglory; "but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Phil. 2:3-f) With such an attitude we are above personal insults. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31)

The person who thinks everything said is directed at him, very likely thinks "of himself more highly than he ought to think." (Rom. 12:3) Those who "think soberly" rarely become upset by the trivia of life.

In Paul's panegyric on "love" he says love "doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil." (1 Cor. 13:5) A Christian cultivates these characteristics, and with such the shoulder-chips and touchy feeling vanish away. Admittedly, this is not a goal easily reached; but it is one toward which all Christians press. If I am constantly and "easily provoked it is barely possible that I am the Johnny who is out of step; especially if the provocation has personal cast.

A philosophy instructor once said that some dogs bark at any and every thing because they have no "magnanimity of soul." (I had to look it up.) He left the impression that some folk have no more soul than a dog. Well, I will concede that some are not half so friendly.

Even when we feel we have a legitimate peeve, there is a right way to handle it. "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: --" etc. (Matt. 18:15-f) Faithful adherence to the Lord's instructions would solve many problems before they became critical. (See Matt. 5:23-f)

And "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Rom.12:19) Getting "even" is impossible in the first place -- although some brethren spend a lifetime learning this. How much better to toss those "chips" into a friendly fire-place, and gather around for a PLAIN TALK discussion of God's Work in God's Way.