Patricia Hofer

Are we answering the Lord’s call for mercy?

RARE IS THE PERSON WHO CAN WEIGH THE FAULTS OF ANOTHER WITHOUT PUTTING HIS THUMB ON THE SCALE. This clear image is Paraguayan in origin. It reminds me of how wrong I can sometimes be in my first impressions of people.…I remember misreading one person’s motives because the “thumb” of my own self-righteousness was on the scale. And so this person’s opinionated righteousness really irritated me. It’s interesting that I should respond that way when people could easily have the same impression when they meet me! After a longer acquaintance I did learn to appreciate my colleague’s good intentions and hard work. …

Another person I misjudged was someone whom I’d met several times but who never remembered me at all. Time after time, she had no idea what my name was. What tipped the “scale” on that one was probably my insecurity and hurt pride. Eventually I was to learn that this woman had a lot to offer and ideas that I needed to hear.

Those who can “weigh the faults” of another without bias are indeed rare, maybe even nonexistent. It’s just too natural to evaluate, through our own faulty lens, what people eat or don’t eat. What they wear. How hard they work. The amount of money they spend. Whether they look us in the eye or look away. Each person we meet sets off a whole series of judgments.

And so once again, I must draw advice from someone who obviously knows more about this than I do. Oswald Chambers recommended this in My Utmost For His Highest: “Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation” (June 17). That unknown “fact” leaves plenty of opportunity for mercy. And isn’t that what the Lord is asking of us? (Turning Aside to See, chapter 30)

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