I Peter 5:8
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."
"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses."
Today, I hit rock-bottom in my eBay selling. I got an email from a buyer who received her package, and the main pottery piece was broken. I was so crushed. I just went inside and bawled. I could not stand the fact that I had let someone down. But God was merciful in that this buyer was very gracious and kind. She took the time to go over with me what I could have done to improve how I packaged items. She also talked to me about how to be more diligent with calculating shipping costs, since I was overpaying out of my own pocket. I was overwhelmed by her caring heart. She even took the time to personally call me so that she could encourage me not to give up, which I was definitely ready to do.
There are many lessons to be learned here for me. The big one is to package better. But I think the overarching lesson is to be gracious to others. I am not talking about my friendships on Blogger, because that is a given :). I mean the everyday, seemingly insignificant opportunities to show grace and forgiveness. This woman could have just left negative feedback and been done with it. She didn't. She took the time to teach, to encourage, and to give positive feedback (which she did NOT have to do).
We talk about it in class all of the time. A student bumps into another student, by accident, and World War 3 is on the brink of happening. Bumped student then has to come to me to tell me that he was bumped by accident by the other student. My return is, "Did they apologize?" Bumped student answers, "Well, yeah." So. What is the problem then?
But I do it all of the time myself. My sin nature makes me "ready to rumble" at any hint of "injustice". A car pulls out in front of me. Errrrr. A car turns without a turn signal. Errrrrr. A person takes "too long" at the cash register. Grumble, grumble. A store clerk is not pleasant. Growl. My students are too chatty. Arrrrrrrggggghhhhh! Do I do the same things? Yes! Do I want mercy and grace shown on me? Yes! It is like the parable of the man who owed money to another man. The man forgave said debt, which was huge, but then the debtor finds someone who owes him a pifulous amount and wants to beat it out of him. I read that parable and think, "Shame! Shame!" But, isn't that what I do? Maybe the car that pulls out in front of me is a person late for work. Am I ever late for work (I plead the fifth)? Maybe the cashier had a bad day. Am I always pleasant when I have a troubling day? Have I ever had something special happen and was excited about it? Do I ever command someone's ear to listen to me chatter on (Don't answer that. It's rhetorical.)?
Jesus was abused by all manner of people. And it wasn't just a "bump in the hallway". His perfect love covered these things. It covered my sins, and I had not even done them yet. Not for another 1,974 years (Don't bother doing the math. I am 38.)! And, He asked us to show mercy and forgive. To forgive completely. 70 X 7. 7 in the Jewish religion is a number that represents completeness (Look for it- Creation, Battle of Jericho...). The Bible does not specify that only certain sized sins be forgiven either. So, yes, the stepping-on-the-foot thing or car-cutting-me-off thing. It counts. I forgive and show mercy because I was forgiven and shown mercy. No, it does not need to be a big ceremony for the forgiving. A breath inward and a silent, "Hope your day goes better," extended to the "offending" party.
So what is the lesson to be learned? Just more bubble wrap? Maybe. Maybe it needs to be around my attitude. I should handle it with care.