Recent days have yielded many opportunities to figure out a grace-filled, yet uncompromising, response to offenses.
I don't feel I succeeded very well.
When confronted with offensive behavior...the first reaction is anger. It's a natural response...but not necessarily a godly one. Where does the grace go that was extended to us when our own behaviors were offensive to others (or more importantly, to our Creator God)? We have been given great gifts...grace, mercy, forgiveness, love...gifts that were not given to be ours alone, but gifts meant to be shared among those we meet along the rest of our life journey.
How can we draw from that well when we are in situations where we need it most?
I had a dream last night about some of the behaviors today’s kids have had to endure. Crude remarks and body gestures from peers…things not only permitted by but also learned from their parents. I found myself screaming at them to "STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!" only to be met with blank, deer-in-the-headlight stares. In that exact moment I was hit with, both in my dream and as I awoke, a revelation...a reminder really.
They cannot see what we see. Their eyes are blinded.
We also had an experience at the gym, confronted with a woman who was clearly using her body to attract men who did not belong to her. How easy it was to see her sin through the eyes of our own self-righteousness without remembering that we are to see the sin of others through the eyes of our Savior!
We must remember that those who have not yet been freed from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ are still, in essence, prisoners of war.
It is not wrong to see situations clearly...to recognize sin when we see it…discernment is a vital tool we must learn and use to keep ourselves steady in this crazy world of shifting sand...but we must be careful when our own anger rises against those in need of the same rescue we were.
"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."
In the same way that we would not get angry at a physically blind person for not seeing us with their eyes, we must be careful with our responses to those who are spiritually blind.
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
2 Corinthians 4:4
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”