I pounded the steering wheel of my old Buick Le Sabre in frustration and started crying. The old beast had stalled out yet again, and I was stuck in the middle lane of I-65 in downtown Indianapolis. I had spent hundreds of dollars trying to get it fixed, replacing one part after another, and now this.
I had come to Indianapolis with a group of Navigators for a six week ministry training program during the summer of 1982. I drove the Buick LeSabre that I shared with my sister to Indianapolis from Michigan. On the way, I had picked up three other college students from Michigan to bring to Butler University in Indianapolis.
My car was essential to getting some of us back and forth to our temporary jobs. I must have dropped everyone else off at their jobs because I was alone in the car.
On the other side of the freeway, the driver of a rusty old red tow truck saw me. He raced around to my side of the freeway. “Do you need a tow?” he asked. He had long hair and ratty old jeans. I asked him how much. “$25.” I said okay. That was all I had on me, but what could I do? I intended to have him take me back to the sorority house we were staying in.
In the tow truck, he asked me what had happened to the car, and I poured out the whole sorry story. He then said, “I know a good mechanic. I’ll take you there.”
He took me and my car to a mechanic who was located in a building with a long series of garages all hooked together. Then he refused to take my money for the tow. This was a high tech garage. I found out later that it was a garage located near the Indianapolis Speedway. The operator had posters with Bible verses hanging from his walls. He hooked my car up to his computer and found the problem – a faulty connection to the distributor cap. He asked me about the history of repairs and how much I paid for them. He asked me if the mechanic kissed me, too, indicating that I had been cheated. He also refused to take my money.
Those two men showed mercy and kindness to me. What if I had refused the help of the first man because of his clothing and long hair and the appearance of his old tow truck? You never know who might show mercy to you. He was God’s provision for me.
Gossip is cynicism in its most virulent form. It is easily spread from one person to another; it is contagious and destructive.
A reiteration of the definition of cynicism is relevant.
Cynicism has been defined as “An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cynicism). The synonyms for Cynicism are revealing: pessimism, sarcasm, suspicion, disparagement, skepticism, distrust, doubt, scorn. It is poison to the soul. A cancer to the spirit.
May our words be kind.
Judging others comes easily to most of us. I find that I fall all too easily into this offense.
This post I found on Facebook demonstrates that it happens from every worldview. https://www.facebook.com/confidentbichacha – I don’t know who the author is.
- Girl gets pregnant at 20: People say “She’s too young to have a baby”.
- Girl considers abortion: “Babykiller”
- Girl considers adoption: “Can’t believe she’s just going to give her baby away”
- Girl keeps baby: “How’s she going to afford that baby?”
- Girl gets welfare: “Our taxes are paying for her laziness”
- Girl gets job: “How can she stand to be away from her baby all day like that?”
- Girl stops hanging out with friends: “She totally changed when she had that baby”
- Girl goes out: “She’s always partying”
- Girl wants to leave crappy bf: “Nobody knows what it means to work things out anymore”
- Girl wants to stay with crappy bf: “She’s crazy”
- Girl is overprotective of her child: “You’re acting like a psycho”
- Girl lets her child play without her: “Where is this kid’s mom?”
- Girl spanks her kid: “Call Police!”
- Girl refuses to spank: “Her kids are gonna be such brats”
Think about the tone of voice usually used in these comments. How about the expressions on those faces. This is cynicism at its ugliest.
Judging is easy. It does not require any effort or involvement. We feel superior. It supports our political agendas. Almost everyone does it from time to time. Name calling and wagging fingers rarely bring about the change that we think should happen.
Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5).
Instead how can we show mercy and kindness to our sister? How can we come along side this girl and help her? How can we show love? How can we encourage her?
“Pray, give, go.” I heard this phrase over 30 years ago from a local leader of the Navigators when I was a student at Michigan State University. The Navigators are an evangelical group, often found on large secular university campuses. They focus on evangelism, discipleship, and Bible study.
- Pray for workers to share the gospel (God’s great mercy)
- Give to missionaries.
- Go to minister the gospel. (God’s mercy to others).
The same could be said about sowing mercy.
- Pray for the opportunity to sow mercy. (Lord, open my eyes).
- Give to organizations with the mission of sowing mercy (Mel Trotter, Toys for Tots, Salvation Army, etc.)
- Go practice mercy to others, both in thought and action.