This week I found myself going the wrong way on a one-way street. I realized my mistake almost immediately, but was committed to the path I was on. There was no way to turn around. I waited at the red light hoping it would turn quickly to green and I could navigate in the right direction before too many people noticed what I had done. Needless to say I got angry gestures, yelling and honked horns from three different cars who thought I must be the stupidest person alive. As I tried to remain calm and not make eye contact, I wanted to tell them…
“I know I am going the wrong way! It was a mistake! I’m trying to readjust my path!”
Even if I could have talked to them I don’t think it would have mattered. I had inconvenienced them and their plans. I was in their way. I was doing what they would NEVER do. I was going the wrong way on a one-way street.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. How often have I been critical of someone who has gotten on the wrong path? Do I draw attention to their error by blasting my spiritual horn at them? Do I take into account their circumstances before I give them a self-righteous talking to? Do I give them anything but the grace they might need? Just like I needed grace to get out of the one-way street, people who have gotten off track need the grace of those around them to readjust their path.
How much better not to draw attention to their sin, but rather pray privately for them, looking for an opportunity to come alongside. Not looking for an opportunity to spread gossip, but looking for an opportunity to tell them you understand, and that we all need grace from time to time, if not daily.
So the horn blowing and yelling I got this week was not in vain. It made me a more gracious forgiver of those around me, as I realize that I need as much grace as they do; that time and again God has shown me more grace than I deserve.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:31-32
For further study: Look up the words – bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice. Look up the words – kind, tender-hearted, forgiving. Ask yourself, which group of words best describes who I am?