People are people – that’s just one of the excuses I tell myself when someone has said or done something to hurt me. I reason that we all make mistakes and we all do stupid things at one time or another. It doesn’t alleviate the pain I feel. It doesn’t eradicate the offense but it does aid in forgiveness and understanding – a little.
But what about those times when the offense comes from a Christian, a fellow church member, someone you’ve trusted as a brother or sister in Christ? What excuses can be used to heal the hurt that is caused by careless words or thoughtless snubs from the ones who bear the name of Jesus Christ? I suppose the excuses are the same. Christians are people. We all make mistakes. We all do stupid things. Though Jesus calls us to be perfect, though we are to be His hands and feet, we are still just people with selfish desires and sinful tendencies. That sounds good, right?
I can make excuses all day long for my own transgressions. I can reason away my thoughtlessness or my pride. I can even defend my fellow believers in their times of weaknesses just so I may settle my own soul and ease my own mind. I have mastered this skill of bandaging problems instead of solving them. What I cannot seem to successfully accomplish, however, is making a believable defense to a lost world that cannot reconcile the words that we preach with the actions we display. And an even more difficult task I find is presenting viable excuses to new or young believers who are struggling in the Christian faith wondering why we, their church family, act nothing like the Lord and Savior we profess and why we have left them to fend for themselves in their Christian walk.
What do I say to these young Christians? I’ve exhausted my list of excuses. And frankly, I’m tired of making excuses. I’ve tried to steer the focus off of people and onto the One who’ll never fail or disappoint us but, often, faith is a strange concept to new believers and trusting in something that cannot be seen is a difficult task. A majority of their Christian growth is a direct result of what is observed in the lives of other Christians. So what do I say? What is the defense when our behavior as Christians turns away even those newborn Christians who were once filled with so much hope?
Yes, we are all people. Yes, we are all sinners. As Christians, we cannot forget this fact. For we know that even our very best is not good enough in the eyes of a Holy and Righteous God. It is only by His Grace and Christ’s work on the cross that we are saved from the punishment of our sins and are able to share in the glory of Heaven. It is only His Mercy that allows us to start again when we fail to live and walk in the footsteps of Christ. We are not perfect and we do make mistakes. I think how we handle our mistakes can make a difference in the eyes of the world and the eyes of those baby Christians. Do we bandage our sins hoping that enough time will pass for these sins to be forgotten? Do we simply pretend that the problems don’t exist? Or do we earnestly seek a solution and strive to live as we know we should?
Does my life reflect my Lord to an ever watchful world? Do my actions provide a good example for the new Christian to follow? If I am being truly honest, my answer must be…….
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Ephesians 5:1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Mark 9:42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.