When we lived in north Florida, a religious group posted signs all over our town advertising special lessons on the final judgment. The signs asked, “Where will you be when reality strikes?” They really got my attention — mainly because they were all misspelled, so that they read, “Where will you be when realty strikes?” I chuckled as I pictured hordes of well-dressed real estate agents angrily descending on the community.
Such things are evidence of a simple fact: People make mistakes. In any human endeavor, sooner or later, they will happen. Sometimes they are harmless, even funny. Sometimes they do a lot of damage. But rest assured, whenever imperfect people are involved, there will be mistakes.
That includes local churches. The church is God’s kingdom, but it is made up of flawed people. Christians make mistakes — all of us. We forget things. We get our facts mixed up. We say one thing when we meant to say another. We misunderstand. We give an impression we didn’t intend. We don’t always use the best judgment. Sometimes we just mess up.
When we make those blunders, we want others to give us the benefit of the doubt, to be patient, understanding, and forgiving. We certainly hope that if anyone will do so, it will be our Christian family. But what do we do when the other person makes a mistake?
Ask yourself: Do I easily get my feelings hurt? When someone says or does something that rubs me the wrong way, am I quick to assume sinister motives on their part? Do I find myself always bent out of shape about something, constantly complaining about what someone has done, or failed to do? If the answer is yes, then I am not giving others the same consideration I would want them to give me (see Matthew 7:12).
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also you should do” (Colossians 3:12-13; cf. Ephesians 4:2).