I can’t remember the exact moment that I first cast a jaundiced eye at anyone speaking with even the faintest whiff of hope or wonder or earnestness. There wasn’t a dramatic pivot in my view of the world and the people in it, but somewhere along the way, I accumulated enough shrapnel in the form of lies, disappointment, and broken trust that it felt more natural to doubt sincerity than to heed it. I called this many things – growing up, not being an easy mark, wising up, being smart, cynicism – but the Holy Spirit gave me a different name for it: unforgiveness.
And [Jesus] did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man [needed no evidence from anyone about men], for He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men’s hearts.]
John 2:24 AMP
In my life, I’ve been exposed to a mere handful of wicked hearts in the vast sea of humanity, and I chose to respond with bitterness and unforgiveness. Jesus knew far, far more about the truth of all humanity, and He forgave us and loved us. I am ashamed at how effortlessly I operate in the realm of suspicion where others are concerned. In fact, I often call such a bitterly motivated approach to others discernment.
What the Spirit reminded me today is that it isn’t discernment to find specific ways that people stink on ice. Of course we do! We’re all stinkers in need of redemption, and after redemption, we’re in need of sanctification. Jesus knew that – “But Jesus [for His part] did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all [men]” (Jn. 2:23 AMP). He didn’t trust us, because He knew us. And because He knew us, He had no expectations of us being anything other than the fallen stinkers we are. I’ve just seen how very little I allow Him to BE that full of truth and grace in me.
I’ve told a few times of the havoc I wreaked in the lives of John and Martha and others when I was first “airlifted” into Shulamite Ministries. In return for my wickedness, I was shown enormous grace, lovingly confronted and held accountable, and forgiven. Again and again and again, I was forgiven. I was given a clean slate after each encounter. Yet I’m awfully quick to write someone off for the unforgivable crime of being a fallen stinker.
Part of the definition of forgiveness is “to let go.” I’m being called to a deeper and fuller letting go of the pain that comes from the simple act of being alive and walking through the world. We hurt others and we get hurt – that’s what fallen, stinking humanity does. But I want to see the world with Jesus’ eyes, not mine. I want to meet people as individuals rather than simply waiting for the shoe to drop so I can say they’re just like everyone else. I know the power of grace, and a clean slate, and the shocking joy of being forgiven. I don’t want to block that kind of love from reaching others in my life; I want to be His vessel for it.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 NKJV