Have you ever found yourself going the wrong way on a one-way street? I have and although I realized my mistake almost immediately, I was committed to the path I was on. Most times there is no way to turn around. You wait at the red light hoping it will turn quickly to green and you can navigate in the right direction before too many people see what you have done. Needless to say you will get honked horns, yelling and angry gestures from people who think you must be unintelligent. As you try to remain calm and not make eye contact, you want to yell back to them…
“I know I am going the wrong way! It was a mistake! I’m trying to change my path!”
Even if you 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 I came across this bible verse. “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
How often have I been critical of someone who has gotten on the wrong path? Do I draw attention to their mistake by blasting my self-righteous horn at them? Do I take into account their circumstances before I give them a holier-than-thou talking to? Do I give them anything but the mercy they might need? Just like I needed grace to get out of the one-way street, people who have gotten off track need the kindness of those around them to straighten their path.
How much better not to draw attention to their offense, 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 we must remember that God has shown us more grace than we deserve.