As I wrote in one of my previous posts, we are all human. We make mistakes without intending to. We hurt someone by forgetting something important to them. We hurt them with sharp words or maybe no words at all (AKA the “silent treatment). The Holy Spirit is faithful to point out this unlovely behavior to us so that we can do something about it. Maybe that means that next time, we’ll guard against saying something hurtful. Or we’ll hold our tongues when we really want to criticize someone (yes, even when we know we’re right!)
I was disappointed in a sermon I heard recently from one of my favorite televangelists. I won’t name names, because I respect him, and I understand that nobody’s perfect, not even a well-loved pastor. His sermon was about doing the best you can with what God gives you. He talked about giving your all at work, as if you were working for God Himself. He talked about the importance of taking care of the things God has blessed us with, such as our homes and cars. He said that we give glory to God when we appreciate what He gives us enough to take good care of it.
When he started talking about not going out unless you look your best, he lost me. I thought it sounded a little worldly to suggest that we be “put together” every time we venture out into public. As Christians we represent our Lord to the world. I can see how looking unkempt might give a bad impression to someone who knows you’re a Christian. But I think that for most people, we go out looking less than our best when we have to, due to time constraints, schedules, illness etc. I can’t speak for the men, but I know I would love to have my makeup on and my hair looking good every time I go out, but sometimes, I have to dash to the store before my shower, wearing yesterday’s makeup and frizzy hair. But I don’t believe that weakens my witness. I am being real, and doing the best I can, and I am sure a lot of people can identify with that.
As the pastor went on to advocate hitting the salon and replacing worn out clothing, his valid points seemed to comingle a little too much with our image-obsessed culture and rampant consumerism. Those parts of his message struck a sour chord with me, because I often don’t look my best, due to chronic pain and fatigue. Even though I didn’t agree with all of his message, I do understand that he was doing his best. And it served as a reminder to me that I, too, do things that disappoint other people. I may use an angry tone with my husband, or rush conversations with my kids when they really want me to listen more. All of us are guilty of disappointing or hurting other people, and a lot of times, we don’t even know we did it. So it keeps me humble to realize that although people sometimes offend me, they probably didn’t mean to, and as it says in Proverbs Chapter 19, verse 11, A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. [NIV Bible]