A new person that came into the group, and she fit a certain stereotype to a T. Her clothing reflected a style that passed out of vogue about 20 years ago.
I was powerless. I knew a friend in that group would completely agree with my judgment and be equally amused. So after a tiny hesitation, I texted my friend. We exchanged a knowing smile.
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you,” Jesus said in Matthew 7:12. Though this is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, I still seem to have a hard time applying that concept to my life.
A very simple way to stop myself from stepping across the line is to ask, “Could I say that directly to the person I am talking about?” If the answer is no, then I should not say it to anyone else.
It was such fun to share my judgment and laugh about that person – for a brief moment. Then I was overwhelmed with a wave of guilt.
The Fashion Violation Lady will never know about my little text. But God did. And that’s where forgiveness comes in. “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). Then, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). So once I ask for forgiveness, it’s gone.
And I learned my lesson. Hopefully for at least a few days.
Things get really complicated when we say things we regret to a person face-to-face. Then the damage is harder to undo. It may take significant work to dig ourselves out of a hole. For the future, ask for protection ahead of time: “God, help me love others today!”
(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)