12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)
When I speak to you of good example, I mean to tell you, too, that you have to understand and excuse, that you have to fill the world with peace and love.(2)
It is a phase we all go through, a defensive mechanism that we revert to in moments where we’ve been “caught” in the act. In a five year old, it can be a little cute and hilarious. In a 30 year old, or even a 50 or 70 year old – not so much. I am talking about making up and giving excuses. The ways in which we try to bend the perception of others, in regards to our actions (and their perceptions are often accurate) to get them to put the best construction, the best reasoning on our actions. We may say things without thinking, we may do something that was wrong, whether we know it or not at the time.
And a five year old can make up some of the silliest excuses you’ve ever heard! Again – kinda cute, a interesting phase.
But what if the best…way of dealing with excuses was not to be found in the one making them, but in the one to whom they are made?
If I read Paul’s words above, and they were practiced, especially the ones underlined, we see a relationship in which a person wouldn’t have to give you excuses – there would be no need! If we trusted each other, to forgive, to make allowance for our mistakes, why would we bother? If we could comprehend the love, the charity (see the last two blogs for charity/love) would we be so quick to find excuses? If we put the best construction, saw the best in what each other did – as Luther taught, would we need to create incredible stories – and get defensive? If we sought to understand and excuse, to fill the world with love and peace… would others need to blame others?
As I think about the community of faith, and the sanctuary it should be, about how we should be able to strengthen each other, build up each other, help each other overcome temptation, this is one of the greatest ways. To mutually work to create an environment where mercy and love are demonstrated, are encouraged, where peace reigns, because we learn not to be defensive, because we do not have to be! What a wondrous environment we could create! We would be the church God intended, a church were people ran for absolution, for forgiveness and would find assurance of it. Accountability wouldn’t be a law driven concept, but one that we rejoiced in, knowing those asking us questions were actually interested in helping us thrive.
It starts simply – not with trying to find excuses for our actions, but excusing and forgiving the actions of others….knowing that is exactly what Christ did!
Even simple – this won’t be easy…. so let us cry for God’s mercy!
And know and be assured – and assure each other… He has listened and is merciful!
(1) Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
(2)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2103-2104). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.