Mirror, mirror on the wall, do we see ourselves correctly at all? Mirrors can’t lie; they simply show people exactly what is being reflected in them – every hair that is out of place, every skin imperfection, or all the extra pounds people gain and wouldn’t care to admit! I wish we could see our own character flaws as easily as we can see our body in a mirror!
Unfortunately, human nature has a way of distorting our perspective from seeing our own shortcomings exactly as they appear. We think to ourselves, “I am a much better person than my next door neighbor who is constantly in trouble with the law. I would never participate in gossip, not even for a second. Or, I can’t stand the way that person treats people…he is so rude!” We justify and rationalize our own behavior, but quickly point out similar flaws in others. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-12 AMP). God knows how deceitful human nature is and yet, He cannot be tricked. He sees beyond our words and looks at the motive of our hearts and rewards each of us accordingly, whether for good or bad. We might be able to fool family, friends and even ourselves, but we will never fool omnipotent all-knowing God!
Jesus rebuked people who judged others for their short comings, yet were doing the exact same things themselves. Jesus said, “You hypocrite, first get the beam of timber out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the tiny particle out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5 AMP). Jesus knew the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day did the very thing they were telling others not to do. They pompously showed little or no compassion for people that had fallen short of the mark because they thought they were morally better than others in their own estimation. They obviously didn’t understand what Jesus Christ came to earth to do – to pay the penalty for our sin once and for all and offer those who had fallen short mercy and grace!
People that gain revelation of what God has done for them show mercy to others because they realize how much it has been extended to them. On the other hand, when people don’t understand what God has done for them, many times, they are harsh and impatient with people – holding them accountable until everything is paid back or made right!
Jesus explained a parable about a king that went to settle an account with one of his servants. The servant owed him 10,000 talents (probably $10,000,000 U.S.) and he obviously had no way of paying it back. The king was about to placed him in prison along with his family until he could pay off the entire debt, but the servant begged the king to show him mercy. The king felt compassion toward his servant and cancelled his whole debt! After the servant was released, he went out and found one of his own servants and told him to pay back the 100 denarii (about $20 U.S.) he owed him. His servant begged him to give him time to pay it back, but the other servant wasn’t merciful. In fact, he put him in jail until he could pay back every last penny (Matthew 18:21-35).
The servant that had been forgiven of the enormous debt showed no mercy to his servant who owed him very little. When the king found out about how his servant had showed no mercy, he threw the servant he had forgiven in prison until he paid his debt in full!
The servant who had been released from his insurmountable balance did not comprehend what had been done for him! If he had understood, he would not have treated his own servant so harshly for something so little! How many times do we hold people accountable or get upset for something they did that irritates us when we do the exact same thing? God has shown us unlimited mercy, yet because we don’t fully understand the magnitude of His grace in our lives, we get angry and bitter over some petty little offense, mistake or irritation! In other words, we refuse to forgive and let it go.
Last week, someone close to me started irritating me because she was very short and abrasive in her tone of voice when discussing certain matters with me. I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t believe the way this person is treating me! I will not be treated this way!” For several days I stewed over the issue and remember asking God many times to help me forgive this person! One day as I was presenting my unjust treatment before the Lord, He said, “You do the same thing!” I thought to myself in the quietness of my heart…”I do not!” Then in a split second, I remembered the last several weeks how I had been really impatient and irritated with my younger brother. I would explain something to him and he would respond with, “What did you say?” This happened multiple times over the course of a few days and it really started to make me mad for no reason at all! In response to his inability to hear me, I would say harsh comments to him or be really short in our conversations. After God showed me this, I was really remorseful for the way I treated my brother and I was very sympathetic to the person who treated me wrong. It turned out that she had had a bad week and was taking her frustration out on me! I asked God to forgive me and help me to see areas of my life that don’t reflect His nature. Unfortunately, many of us are blind to the way we treat people or fail to see our own shortcomings, yet easily point out the faults of others.
The next time you want to get upset at someone, ask God to help you see from His perspective and give you the strength to extend grace and mercy. When we realize just how much has been done for us, it leaves us no other choice except to forgive those who have wronged or irritated us!
Has your patience with others been lacking as of late? Are you harsh toward or show little grace when others make mistakes? Chances are you don’t understand the grace that has been extended to you! I pray that God will show you and I the extent of His grace toward us so that we can give it away to others! It will truly change our lives!