Cooling Your Hot Takes!
January 16, 2024
Too Fast to Handle!
You can hardly help it. Almost no one is so mature and godly that their first reaction is the absolute right one. You hear or see something, and before you know it, you are reacting to it. That is your “first take.” It can happen when something affects you or impacts others. Or it comes from the breaking news on your TV or phone or the whispered “Did you hear…?” spoken to you at church! Even worse, if you start sharing your instant opinions with others, your wrong first take becomes an ill-informed and unwise “hot take.” 1
Your first takes are “natural,” in the sense they are conditioned first responses. Yet we bear responsibility for them as sinners, even if saved by grace because these ill-formed reactions flow from our hearts and a lifetime of accumulated exposure to ungodly influences from around us. Already evil, we have doubled down by choosing to walk “in the counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1), both from people and media. But the Bible’s focus is how we should fight against those errant first impressions. We can repent and move beyond our natural responses to supernatural ones. If angered in the flash of a moment, we should deal with that anger in godly, reflective ways instead of lashing out (Matthew 5:21-26). The same applies to experiences of fear. David’s life shows how our “first” take can be off and how taking time to meditate and pray can bring us to better and more supernatural “last” takes.
David’s Messed Up First Take
In 1 Chronicles 13, David showed zeal, wanting the ark of God to be brought up to Jerusalem, but a zeal without knowledge that would be deadly. The ark was transported on a new cart (verse 7) instead of being carried by poles placed through the rings on the side (Exodus 27:6-8). In a mistaken effort to keep the ark from tipping, Uzzah kindled God’s wrath by touching it: “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God” (1 Chronicles 13:10). What was David’s first take on this outbreak of God’s judgment? He was angry (verse 11) and afraid (verse 12)!
The fear of God is understandable and wise, but anger at who? Commentators admit that we cannot tell definitively: “We are told the cause of David’s anger but not its direction.” 2 Perhaps he was a bit angry with himself, but it seems that his angry reaction was against Uzzah or even God! If David’s first take had been fearful humility and repentance, he would have nailed it the first time, but it would take time and reflection for David to get it right. So, it is with us. Do not let your first takes be your final takes!
David’s Supernatural Second Take
The good news is that, like David, we can succeed in moving to wiser and godlier second impressions. David had some time to meditate on the messed-up transportation of that ark. Just like your daily discipline of Bible reading can be the means for God to change your mind about what has happened, so the written Word penetrated David’s heart, too. D.A. Carson writes, “Apparently cooling down after the shocking loss of Uzzah, David returns to the Scriptures. True, Uzzah should not have touched the ark. But were David and his people transgressing any other legal prescriptions in the way they were handling it? David’s Bible reading reminds him that only the Levites were permitted to transport it, and how they are to do it.” 3 The result is triumphant joy. The ark comes safely to Jerusalem, God is honored, and David and his people are filled with joy: “So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres” (1 Chronicles 15:28).
Grace for Another Take
David got it right (eventually), and we can, too. Next week’s blog connects first takes with our common struggles and gives timely suggestions for moving from first to last takes, a journey of moving from wrong first impressions to the right and righteous final ones.
Here is a helpful, related article:
"10 Thoughts on Speaking (and Not) In a Digital World" by Darryl Dash
1“A piece of writing or speech, especially on the internet, giving someone's personal opinions about a topic, usually strong opinions that have not been carefully thought about.” https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/hot-take, accessed January 17, 2024.
2 Philips V. Long, 1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction and Commentary, ed. David G. Firth, vol. 8, (Westmont: IVP Academic, 2020), 325.
3 D.A. Carson, For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1998), 350.