It’s amazing how often we just don’t do the right thing. I understand that those who are spiritually, mentally or emotionally sick will mess with the lives of other people. But, for the most part, healthy individuals don’t continually deceive, disrupt or attack the lives of those they know and love. Because of our Judao-Christian heritage, we just don’t operate that way in our society, and it’s a good thing.
That being said, after 30+ years of ministry, I also know humans. It is painfully clear to me that we all have a propensity to take a walk on the dark side from time to time if we get offended or it’s to our advantage. That’s the nature we are born with and it takes time, discipline and the hand of God to dig that stuff out of us. The problem with yielding to this base nature, called a “Jacob” nature, is it never produces an isolated event. Once you cross the line, it creates an unavoidable ripple effect with a potential to impact the lives of people for years.
I experienced a perfect example of this just the other day, and it touched me very deeply. I was enjoying breakfast with a local business man who was a part of our church years ago. We were having a wonderful heart-to-heart conversation that was healing up some old misunderstandings which were long overdue to be resolved. As we spoke, an incident came up about a Mercedes I sold to a couple 13 years ago. It was clear by his facial expression that he had been well informed about the first part of the incident by the offended couple. However, once poisoned, they apparently never gave him the rest of the story.
I explained that I had indeed done the wrong thing by them. However, over the years God had dealt with me and I wrote this couple a sincere letter of apology. I tried to personally deliver it but ended up having it hand delivered by a mutual friend to their front door. In the letter I asked them to forgive me and included a check for $4000, which was the full amount they had paid for the car. Since it was no longer in their possession, and could not be returned, I was in fact just giving them the vehicle. When I told this businessman they never responded to my letter, never acknowledged my apology and had indeed cashed my check, his entire countenance changed. He was shocked to discovered they had infected him with their criticism but never returned to speak the truth that could release him from it.
A light went on in his head and heart, and we both realized the real problem was a lot bigger than the car. It was very clear that the struggle in them ran much deeper than the single offence I had caused to them. Maybe, just maybe, God wanted to use the blunder I had made for a much greater good. It humbled me, and I needed that, but it seems as if He also wanted to point out a broken place in them as well. I have known them for over 25 years, and what they were demonstrating had been part of their lives for as long as anyone could remember. In other words, God always uses our mess to get across a greater message!
What I learned from this is an important life lesson. As humans, we may not always do the right thing. However, we are always responsible to make things right, if we can. I have no idea if this couple will ever get beyond the offence and face the greater problem that is now evident to everyone. They may live with unforgiveness and bitterness till they die. The real tragedy is they don’t have to. They did poison a lot of people because of me, and I doubt all of those will ever hear the rest of the story. The point is, had I not done wrong by them in the first place, and set all this in motion, none of the negative fallout would be here today.
Consider this… what you thoughtlessly do today can reach out for years and change the lives of many innocent people. It’s always easier and better, to do the right thing, than it is to make things right. The fact is, you can’t undo some things, but if you prevent them in the first place the good news is, you won’t have to! Now, go have a great life and do what’s right!