Tonight I went to a Third Day Christian concert. Toward the end, the band left the stage, as they typically do, before returning for that final, incredible song. After they left, people cheered; they whistled; they applauded. I watched as 7,000 or so people clapped as one, waiting for the band’s reappearance. Suddenly I imagined what it will be like in heaven someday when millions of believers stand before the throne of God, cheering and applauding and shouting with excitement and anticipation of worshipping their Lord and Savior.

The band returned and began their encore. People sang and praised and lifted their hands. The applause of heaven doesn’t have to wait. It begins now–here, not just in the hereafter…but then something caught my eye: A man with white hair who had been sitting on the row in front of me and just to my left, stepped into the aisle and down next to a man standing on the row in front of him. He raised his finger, began waving it and shouting, only inches from the man’s face. The other man stiffened, puffed out his chest, raised to his full stature (which wasn’t very tall since he was a short man) and shouted back. The first gentleman, if I might call him such, motioned for them to step outside and the other man would have followed if his wife hadn’t caught his arm. The argument continued. Over the sound of the music I could hear words but couldn’t tell what they were saying, but their body language expressed it all. Tempers were rising. In my mind I was planning the best way to hop down and break up these two senior adults if anger turned to blows. Finally, the first man stepped back to leave as the second one motioned for him to come back and yelled out, “Come on!”

It was like watching two schoolboys. I have no idea what they were arguing about, but it painted a clear picture for me. A moment ago they were applauding together and seconds later, fists were ready to fly–brothers in Christ come to blows. One left mad; the other sat down in anger as everyone else stood to sing, “Lord of all Creation;”even my wife and I left, not talking about the concert but the two senior adults in Section C that almost “duked” it out.

Are we, as Christians, really such hearers of the word and not doers that in the middle of a life of applause to Christ we stop to bicker and fight over the most insignificant things? That one minute we clap and raise our hands together but as soon as someone crosses us we puff up and lash out. We should fight for that which is worth fighting–the truth, the Gospel, our faith, but to battle over things that don’t matter, especially things that have no eternal significance, is pure foolishness.

When I was in college I was lying on my bed worshipping the Lord when He put a very vivid picture in my mind. There were two children making mud pies. Both were filthy. For a moment they played together but then they argued about whose pie was the best. It was ridiculous bickering. “These are my children,” the Lord whispered in my heart.

May we give applause to the Lord not only with our hands and mouths but with our hearts and actions as well. May we be slow to anger and consider our ways in how we regard our brothers and sisters in Christ. And when anger is justified, may we have the right response in the right time for the right reason.

(NOTE: Interestingly the word “applause” comes from a Latin word that means  to “approve by clapping hands,” from ad- “upon” + plaudere “to clap hands, strike” ( The two gentlemen were approving together one minute and disapproving of each other the next; they were “striking upon” their hands to clap one minute and almost striking upon each other the next.)

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