It happened at church.
My family had come early, and as we walked down the hallway, a young mother tried to drop off her two-year-old at the nursery. The worker explained that unfortunately they couldn’t take any children yet.
The mother’s reaction caught me by surprise. She swept her child into her arms, shouted “Thanks a lot!” and stormed off down the hall.
I forced myself not to turn and watch her stomp away. I couldn’t believe she got that upset because the nursery wasn’t open. After all, she had shown up early! And why couldn’t she wait a couple minutes?
I was tempted to think less of her after that situation. A few uncharitable thoughts went through my head. But I reminded myself that I, too, have over-reacted to simple situations. If that had been me, I would want others to give me the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she had just been given really bad news. Maybe she’d been feeling sick all day. Maybe she had had trouble with that particular worker in the past. While nothing excuses bad behavior, good people don’t just explode without some kind of negative build-up.
We all sin.
We all blow it at some point.
The question is, how will we respond when we see others make mistakes?
We can choose wrong responses that promote strife and judgment: Getting angry at the person who misbehaved, badmouthing them or talking about them to others, avoiding them/giving them the silent treatment, assuming the worst from that point on.
Or, we can choose right responses that promote unity, peace, and love: Keeping our mouth shut (there is no reason to go tell someone else what you saw, or to discuss it with another person), praying for them to be more careful in the future, giving them grave and walking away, or searching out their need and offering to help.
It’s even harder when another person’s bad behavior directly affects us. Our human nature wants to get even, get people on our side, get the person ‘in trouble’, etc. But God wants us to let it go.
The Bible tells us that love covers a multitude of sins (1Pet 4:8). Covers, as in: hide from view, keep to ourselves, do not show to others. If we are to make every effort to live in peace (Rom 12:18) and promote unity (Eph 4:3), then sometimes we need to let others make mistakes and simply walk away.
That is where grace and mercy come in.
I recently heard of a situation where a Christian-based company who is being drug through the mud because they made some mistakes. Those involved, who claim to be born-again, rather than giving the company a chance to correct the error, retaliated publicly and bad-mouthed them. My heart hurt for this poor company because that is not how God wants us to handle mistakes. I’ve started praying for this company, that God would bless them and salvage their reputation, and that He would get all the glory when they rise.
When we see others make mistakes, let’s choose to overlook the flaws rather than take offense. Let’s uplift them, remembering that God’s not done with them yet.
Isn’t that what we would want others to do for us?
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