One of the benefits of dealing with my wife’s bouts with cancer is that she has been an example to other women. Both times she has caught the cancer fairly early because she keeps up with her schedule and gets her yearly mammogram done. As a result, she has not dealt with some of the serious problems that others have. That being said, her example has encouraged other women to watch their own health. At the same time, we both have an empathy with those going through cancer: the fighter and the caregiver. Because we have gone through those fights, we know some of the struggles that other people have and we can walk with them. When we get support from others who have gone through the same battle, it is that much more precious to us.
The Book of Hebrews is an interesting piece. Written to Jewish Christians it draws on common experiences that Jews might have had growing up. Hebrews 5 deals with the selection of the High Priest, with the ultimate goal of showing Jesus as the High Priest. One of the jobs of the High Priest is that they were to offer sacrifices for sin and help establish reconciliation between man and God. The High Priest in the Jewish tradition was not perfect. The result of his imperfections is empathy with the people he is working with. “He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2)
When we have walked in the footsteps that others are walking in, it should engender sympathy. Some take on a harsh tone: “I did it, why don’t you.” Even in the strictness of the law though, the High Priest is seen as having the job to deal gently with others. Jesus, our ultimate High Priest, came down from heaven and lived a perfect life – yet there is none so gentle with those caught up in sin than Jesus. His harsh words were directed at those who thought that they had a special relationship with God and could then be hateful towards others who didn’t have that same relationship. As Jesus ministered, His gentleness brought those caught in their sin back into a relationship with the Almighty God. It is amazing that so many who claim to have a relationship with Jesus are harsh, strict, hateful even, towards others whom God is still seeking. Have they forgotten when Paul, after listing a bunch of sins, said, “And such were some of you.”? (1 Corinthians 6:11)
It has sadly become de rigueur for those who claim to be followers of Christ to impose strict rules and regulations on others: followers and non-followers alike. They look at our world which is full of sin and sinful behavior and take on the task of cleaning this world up. I committed to looking at this sinful world and seeing the grace that God offers each and every one of those sinful people. Just as God granted grace to sinful me, He offers grace and forgiveness to each and every person who is alive today. My job is not to clean up the world, or even one person. My job is to reveal the grace of God that is offered to all people. My thoughts, my words, my deeds should all reveal that grace. While I do not always meet that standard, I can be thankful that God still offers His grace and forgiveness to me also.
Lord Jesus, when the woman caught in adultery was brought to You, You could have rightly condemned her. You offered her grace and forgiveness instead. When I recognized my sinfulness and sought You, You could have given me justice. You gave me mercy instead. As I walk through this world and see people that You love and died for, let me be Your heart and show others grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Let me offer them my gentle imperfection as I show them Your gentle perfection.