by Rev. Benjamin Chung (鍾立恆牧師)
[Proverbs 26:20 NIV84]
There are 24 hours in a single day. We all have the same amount of time in life; no one has more, no one has less. That’s all the time Counter Terrorism Special Agent Jack Bauer in the TV show 24 needs to save the president from assassination or the demise of America. Funny thing is, this has even caused some to believe all spy mission can be completed in such a short period of time. One time, a mother asked her son, who is a special agent, why he can’t finish a mission as quickly as Jack Bauer? The answer is easy: real life isn’t as simple as TV.
But sometimes it should be. When Paul said in Ephesians 4:26 “to not let the sun go down while you are still angry” this is because the anger fester, allowing the devil to get a foothold on your heart and become something even more evil. Good safeguards should therefore be put in place. Another piece of wisdom I have heard pastors say is to never submit your letter or resignation on Monday, but to wait until Tues, at least a full 24 hours! The reason is because pastors receive discouraging comments from church members, and many if not all comments come on Sunday. These comments can cause pastors to want to give up and throw in the towel, maybe because that’s what the church member said. So on Monday, the pastor writes the letter. It is only when Tuesday rolls around that the pastor comes to clarity and concludes, “I should not have submitted the letter”. But it is often too late. (Perhaps, this is also a learning lesson for the pastor and church of problems in the church, too.) The wise counsel is therefore to let the steam out over 24 hours. Once the time has passed, the pastor will be able to reflect on the criticisms with a clear mind. (Pastors are human, too!)
Another application of the “24 hours rule” pastors use is when gossip has presented itself to the pastor (or the church member). If church member A comes to the pastor with a complaint regarding church member B but doesn’t want the pastor to tell the complaint of A about B to B, then the pastor must tell A that he/she needs to speak to B in 24 hours, and the pastor will check with person B to see if A has brought up the complaint to B. The reason for this is, A is trying to gossip with the pastor about person B. And the only way for the pastor to counteract the gossip of person A is to expose it. Brothers and sisters, don’t forget: Gossip is a SIN! (For the English Ministry, we know sin is: NO GOOD!) In so doing, A and B can talk and come to a peaceful and Christ-directed resolution. By doing this, pastors have been able to quell disagreements when they are mere sparks, rather than deal with a situation that has extended into a full forest fire. What a glorious and thankful day it is when pastors get to finally see gossip stomped out in their churches. Church family, let’s stomp it out!
一日之內有24 小時。我們每個人都過著同樣這二十四小時，沒有多，也沒有少。 電視節目「24」中的反恐特工傑克．鮑爾（Jack Bauer），每季的任務，一係需要拯救美國總統免遭暗殺，抑或防止美國受到恐怖襲擊，都要在24 小時內完成。有趣的是，這些劇情使一些人相信所有間諜任務都可以在如此短的時間內完成。 有一位母親問她的兒子（他是特工），為什麼他不能像傑克．鮑爾那樣快完成任務？其實答案很簡單：現實生活並不像電視劇情那樣簡單。
但也許，基督徒的生活有時是應該用「 24 小時規則」去處理的。保羅在以弗所書4:26 中說「生氣卻不要犯罪；不可含怒到日落」，這是因為如果我們讓憤怒存留，魔鬼就有機會在你的心中紮根，而這憤怒可能變本加厲。所以我們應採取適當保障措施，好避免給魔鬼留地步。我聽過一位牧師講說一個牧師生活的小智慧，就是絕不要在星期一提交您的辭職信，而要等到星期二，至少要有整整24 小時！原因是因為牧師可能從教會會友中聽到沮喪的批評，而大部份的批評（如果不是全部的話）都通常在星期日發生。這些批評有可能導致牧師喪志，如果星期一就提交辭職信，可能在星期二時就後悔：「我不應該放棄」，此時已為時已晚。因此，明智的建議是用24 小時內釋放同過濾。時間過去後，牧師才能夠清晰地思考和過濾批評。 （牧師也是人呀！）
另外一個可使用的「 24 小時規則」是當教會預到閒話或流言時。如果甲會友向牧師提出有關乙會友的投訴，但又不希望牧師向乙會友講說。此時就應運用「 24小時規則」，告訴甲會友他/她需要在24小時內與乙會友坦白說出，而且牧師亦應與乙會友進行核實，以了解甲會友是否向乙會友提出了投訴。原因是如果甲會友沒有當面與乙會友說清楚，那甲會友所說的投訴就變成閒話。兄弟姐妹們，別忘了：閒話和流言也是罪呀！這樣甲會友和乙會友可以直接傾談，在主中和好。這樣一來，就可以消除分歧。逾早消除分歧，就能避免變成像一場森林大火的狀況。當我們能見到教會中排除閒話和流言，這是多麼光榮和感恩的一天。弟兄姊妹們，讓我們一起去排除閒話和流言吧！