Who Did He Think He Was?
I heard this story recently about a guy who ran a construction company. He was very successful and not surprisingly, he was industrious too. And when he drove he was often on his way to do something important.
Now this man is a Christian and, from what I understand, a guy you would probably describe as mild mannered if you talked with him face to face. But, if another driver did anything to slow him down when he was on the road, he would lose his composure. Bad drivers made him angry.
Then this man, the one with the anger, was diagnosed with cancer. And with the cancer came the treatments.
Well one day after a heavy dose of radiation he was on his way home, on the freeway. When he arrived at his exit the off ramp was backed up. It was backed up because there was a driver stopped toward the end of the off ramp. Just sitting there. People behind him were laying on their horns and hollering. But this time, the man with the anger issues was so wiped out from the radiation he simply didn’t have the energy to feel upset.
Finally the guy who was blocking traffic pulled slowly off onto the shoulder. The cars filed passed and eventually the man with the anger problem rolled by the guy pulled off to the side. And there on the shoulder he saw why the driver held up traffic: he was coughing violently and uncontrollably. And he recognized him. It was one of his radiation buddies from the cancer treatment center.
Later when he was home he looked at his wife and said, “Who did I think I was?”
Who Do I Think I Am?
“Who did I think I was?” The man with the anger problem said. He railed on bad drivers all those years without knowing anything about their circumstances. That story instigated a question in my own mind. After I heard that story I thought to myself, “Who do I think I am?”
There’s a parable in the Bible that terrifies me. There’s this king who decides it’s time to settle accounts with his servants. And this one servant is brought in who owes him way more than a million bucks. But the servant couldn’t pay so the king ordered him and his family and everything he had to be sold.
The servant fell to his knees and begged the king, “Please, have patience with me. Have patience with me and I’ll pay you everything.”
And the king had pity on his servant. And he released him, and, he forgave him of the entire debt.
But later that same servant bumped into one of his co-laborers who owed him ten thousand dollars. And he grabbed the guy and started to choke him, saying, “You owe me, and it’s time to pay up.”
His coworker begged him saying, “Have patience with me and I’ll make it right.”
But he refused and ordered him to be put in prison until the entire amount was collected.
A number of people who witnessed this found it disturbing, and they went to the king and told him what happened. Then the king summoned his servant, the one whose debt was forgiven, and he said, “You’re a wicked servant! I forgave you all of that debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your debtor, as I had mercy on you?”
And in his anger the king delivered him to the jailers, until he paid back all his debt.
Jesus told that parable, and then at the end, he says this,
“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)
That, is, terrifying to me. And it’s probably terrifying to you too. Because when we complain or hold a grudge or criticize we all have such a propensity to compare our personal strengths against the weaknesses of others. We do. We all do. Make a point of listening to criticisms in the coming week and see for yourself. Always in the back of the mind of the one spouting the complaint is the thought, “I would never do that.”
I know I can so easily look at the behavior of others disapprovingly and without concern or love for the person. And in the moments I manage to keep that under control–I can even disapprove of people who look at the behavior of others disapprovingly.
It shouldn’t be that way. I shouldn’t be that way. We shouldn’t be that way. I need to forgive the behavior of my co-laborer, even as God has forgiven me.
I’m not talking about whitewashing sin. I’m talking about the sin of unforgiveness. I’m talking about the sin of having an absence of mercy. And I’m talking about attitude and tone toward other people and other Christians in particular. If love isn’t a part of what we’re saying, or doing, or thinking, then we say, do, and think amiss.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” -Jesus Christ, John 13:35
Be known for your love for others, other Christians in particular.
Image via freshelectrons – Creative Commons