I have a commentary on Isaiah that is basically useless except for an occasional quote such as this one:
When someone has been wronged, it is easy for the awareness of that injustice to possess the whole being. John Goldingay
While Mr. Goldingay and I disagree on many issues regarding the prophet Isaiah’s writings, we can find common ground in this sentence.
As my sixty-second birthday looms, my reactions have tended to slow down a bit. Not just in physical exercise, but also emotionally. I have always been known as “Quick Klick” and this phrase also typically applies – “Ready, fire, aim.” Way too many times I have spoken or acted without engaging any thinking process beforehand.
Now, I am starting to try to think before acting and especially before speaking. Frankly, I’m not very good at it yet, but hey, I am progressing! I’m at least thinking about thinking first and that is some progress!
As I thought about the quote above, the old guys in John 8:9 came to mind. These are the men that were ready to stone the woman caught in adultery and as Jesus challenged them, the rocks fell to the ground. John notes that older ones let loose of the stones first. I wonder why?
Really, I don’t. Being an older guy now, I know why they were mentioned. As we age and learn more about our wonderful Lord, we should be growing in grace, mercy, and forgiveness towards others. We should be able to reflect on all of our past failures and understand that no one is immune to them. We understand our own failures and that should give us more grace when others let us down, offend, or hurt us.
Looking back over the decades of a life allows us to see many times we spoke out of line. We over or underreacted to a situation. We gave too little or too much grace. We were harsh, rude, should not have spoken, joked at someone else’s expense, said something totally inappropriate, or didn’t say anything and we should have.
Each of us fails. None of us is without sin and only Jesus was a perfect human. All of the rest of us are in varying stages of growth and maturity. We are not the sum total of all wisdom and balance. We are not the standard of proper behavior in every circumstance and age certainly brings these points home to my heart.
It is easy for me to let a wronged suffered take over my mind and life. However, if I am truthful, there have been multiple times, many more than I care to remember when I have inflicted wounds upon others.
There have been many times when I needed forgiveness from both God and man. How can I throw a stone at someone else? How can I let someone else’s failure take over my heart, mind, and life? Will God give them the grace to repent? Will their loving Heavenly Father lead them to grace, mercy and a place of understanding? God is still working in my life, won’t He do the same for them? I’m changing, can’t they? I believe the answer has to be yes.
What am I supposed to do when offended by someone? Here is some wisdom I am working on:
Proverbs 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
As I ponder the quote above, the old guys in John, and the wisdom of Proverbs, I pray my rocks would drop quickly with a thud. An even better thought is that I wouldn’t waste the energy picking them up in the first place.