My least favorite thing about reading the Bible is that when my mind is exposed to a certain truth, I can no longer deny it or claim I knew nothing about it. I know there is no excuse for ignorance even in law but sometimes there is a blind comfort in just not knowing.
Yesterday, I was slightly irritated with a coworker that was not pulling his* weight at work. By his actions, he was creating more work for everyone else who was doing what was required of them and even going the extra mile. There were two tasks I helped him with that I mentally struggled with. I did the first one grudgingly as I muttered under my breath. When I realized I might have to also do the second task, I became even more irritated and agreed within myself that I was not going to help him. Why? He did not deserve my help because as far as our job required, he did not do what was expected of him. If it were any other coworker, I would have easily helped them because they usually do what is expected of them and as such are deserving of my help. I eventually had to go against my inclination and get the task over with because we were basically done for the day and it had to get done. I rolled my eyes but I got it done.
Fast forward to this morning. I pick up my Bible (New Living Translation) and settle on Psalm 103. I love this Psalm because it inspires gratitude and reminds me of the compassionate and gracious nature of God. As I read up to the 10th verse, my heart was exposed to a certain truth that I can no longer deny:
“He has not punished us for all our sins
Nor does he deal with us as we deserve.”
In my opinion, the point of being a Christian is to put on the nature of God and become like Him. It is to extend the same love, grace and mercy that He extends to us to others. When I read this verse, the incident with my coworker was brought back to my heart. My confident ruling on his deservedness was overturned in my heart by this scripture. God does not deal with me as I deserve and in turn, I should not deal with others as they deserve. My response to anyone should always be a product of God’s love, grace and mercy to me. As my heart settled on this uncomfortable truth, it was supplied with more examples of how Jesus dealt with people other than they deserved: the woman caught in adultery who was to be stoned to death (John 8: 1 – 11) and Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19: 1 – 10).
Now I am not Jesus and there are bad people in the world. The very idea of treating people who have done horrible things and do not even deserve a modicum of love with love seems stressful. Here I go again with the word, deserve as if I know what it truly means. Okay, let me try this again. As uncomfortable and difficult as it seems to deal with others differently than they deserve, it helps to know that it is a beautiful thing. This is because it comes from understanding that as a lover of God, your actions and reactions towards others should always be a product of the unfailing love you freely receive from God. Deservedness should never be a factor for us because when it comes to us, God does not even consider it. Feeling that it will be impossible to do this in the world we live in today is okay. I am with you. However, it is comforting to know that God’s grace is always available for the impossible.
*Refers to facts that may have been altered to protect the identity of the person referred to.