In my quiet time a couple of weeks ago, my thoughts drifted to an episode of “The Profit” my husband and I watched the night before. Suddenly, the Lord tapped my heart and showed me something. The business owner in this episode was particularly stubborn and prideful, to the point of coming across as childish for most of the episode. Within minutes of watching the episode, I wrote him off as stupid and annoying, but I didn’t even know him. Yikes. I saw what the Lord was pointing out.
I followed this line of thinking and wondered with the rise of reality TV and the subsequent parade of immature personalities if this hasn’t strengthened our judgment muscles, rather than our grace muscles. There’s no research, polls, or surveys behind this question…just thinking out loud.
Think of all the negative situations which are constantly playing out in front of us. A crying woman on The Bachelor, fighting adults on Dance Moms, or any number of caustic situations don’t exactly induce me to think kind thoughts toward people. It’s their fault, they got into this mess, or they’re in it for the money, attention, etc. A lot of judgment. Not a lot of grace.
Let’s shift our focus from reality TV personalities to the ones we actually come in contact with on a daily basis. How quick are we to come to a judgment in our minds about a coworker, an errant driver on the road, a struggling cashier? I know I can be pretty quick to hold court in my mind, and hand down a sentence on the road or in the checkout line. Verdicts and judgments all day every day. Mostly guilty judgments, right?
Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, ask a question in the gospel of Matthew that I’m sure many of us have wondered in our own minds.
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18:21
In response, Jesus shares a story about a servant who owes a great deal to his king. The king forgives him, and wipes out his debt, an absurd amount of money. Tens of millions of dollars by today’s economy, if not more. The door of the palace hasn’t even latched shut when the servant finds a peer who owes him, uh…way less money. In the neighborhood of thousands of dollars, possibly approaching $10k (various views on calculating these totals, but you get the point.)
Does the servant remember what happened to him a few seconds ago, realizing that a debt some estimate would have taken in excess of 100,000 years to pay off HAS JUST BEEN WIPED CLEAN?
No, he doesn’t.
The servant insists on payment from his peer. The merciful king gets wind of this development, and decides the servant hasn’t learned a lesson at all and takes action.
Like the servant in the story, we have been forgiven much, and have no authority to hold court in our minds and hearts. We can only point others to the path we’ve just come down, back toward Jesus. He is the one who is not only ably to justly judge, but has already paid the debt we’ve accumulated.
More grace toward others. More thankfulness to the Lord. Less holding court in my own mind. That’s what’s on my agenda.