Living Grace: We should all look in the mirror | Lifestyles

Most of society lives in a bubble where we complain that everyone lives in a bubble, but of course we are open-minded and caring and cling to the truth. We denigrate those who live in another bubble. Many become angry and have violent thoughts towards those in the other bubble. Yet we continue to listen only to our own source of information. We only hang out with those who look and sound like us. These reinforce much of what we already believe. Some will take a moment to listen to the “other” source of information, but never really wonder where they might be right. Usually this just adds fuel to the fire. While we spend time blaming others for the way they are destroying the country, we fail to realize that hatred destroys our very soul.

As I mentioned, for a while in my life I worked in a rescue mission in a very urban environment. This mission had over 100 staff members and once a month we all came together for a time of worship, training and fellowship. It was during one of these meetings that I sat next to a young woman who was a colleague. She was attractive, smart and fun to talk to. I often wondered why she was single. A young man would surely see what I see and realize how awesome this woman was and do whatever he could to woo her heart.

At that meeting, as I sat next to her, I got my first hint of maybe why she was single. She smelled bad. I don’t remember anything said or done during that meeting because I thought I would need to have a tough conversation with her about her personal hygiene. My nose hairs curled up and I decided that I would boldly and lovingly have this conversation with her later.

When the meeting ended, there was fellowship for a short time and I went to my car. I found it strange that the smell was still with me even outside. Shaking my head, I thought how bad it was that even 20 minutes later, her scent had seeped into my nostrils in such a way that it was still there. As I closed my car door, I noticed the smell was even worse. On a whim, I checked the bottom of my shoe.

There, under my shoe, was the source of the stench. I apparently got into a doggy doo somewhere along the line. I was the source of the stench. The horror of the truth shocked and embarrassed me. In order to be living grace and live an abundant life, we must be willing to examine ourselves before we seek to help others.

“Why do you look at the grain of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there’s always a plank in your eye? Hypocrite, first remove the beam from your eye, and then you will see how to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. —Matthew 7:3-5

I recently read the story of an old monk who carried a mirror everywhere he went. Most of his community said the monk must have been incredibly vain and were shocked that this cloth man was so focused on his own appearance. One day, a child asked him about the mirror. It’s always the kids who seem to ask the questions no one else wants to ask. The old monk with a twinkle in his eyes said to the child: “When I feel like complaining about someone or something, I first look in the mirror to see if I should do something. or if I am at fault.” Maybe more of us should be carrying mirrors.

Rich Schaus is the executive director of the Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee.

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