On Saturday, my mentor and her husband walked out of their house. There was a large, black crow sitting on the hood of her newly washed and waxed car. Not wanting the bird to do its business on her car, she started to shoo it away. The bird did not move, so her husband grabbed a small stick and tossed it in the direction of the bird, but it stayed put. “What a stubborn bird” she thought, as her husband went around the opposite side of the car and started to tap on the hood to scare it. The bird did not move as they both marveled at how the bird was not only unintimidated but stayed put, seemingly mocking them in their feeble attempts to scare it from the car. Finally she drew close enough to the bird that it started to move, and as it slipped down the slope of the slippery car, they realized that it was hurt and unable to fly away. Immediately her frustration at the insubordination turned to sympathy for the injury. The couple got into the other car to run errands and my mentor began praying that God would take care of the bird, and that it would be gone by the time they returned home, and it was.
This might seem a silly story, but in hearing it yesterday, I had to think to myself how applicational this story can be in our day-to-day lives, and that on a variety of levels. The most basic of levels is simply this: we are all sinners. By nature, we can do nothing but sin. If your neighbor or friend is not a believer, he has no ability or desire in and of himself to obey God or honor God. Sinners sin. What else do you expect? Dead bodies stink.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
– Eph 2.1-3
The second, and perhaps more difficult application here, is that sometimes people have an injury and offend us with an inability to fix or help themselves. I, admittedly, am no psychologist or counselor, but I do know that sometimes God walks people through extended seasons of grief or healing after a traumatic event before they are restored completely.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
– Ps 34.18-19
I also know that we, as long as we are in our physical bodies, are at war with the flesh and fighting against our wicked desires.
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
– Rom 7. 15-19
Sometimes we just screw up. We all do. Now, there are times when the wickedness of another is intentionally aimed at us. There are times that someone sets out to do us wrong, to hurt us. But there are other times when someone’s failure and sin is enacted completely apart from concern for us, and it is quite possible that there is a broken wing behind the insubordination.
Is this another, “walk a mile in some one’s shoes” or “judge not” shpiel that we have all heard ad nauseam? No, actually it is not. Because Scripture commands us to fight sin. Put it to death. To not make peace with it, but take extreme measure to rid it from our lives. But it is an exhortation to consider the brokenness behind the sin. Condemning ourselves or our friends for a mistake or a big fat ugly sin does not preach the Gospel. Preaching forgiveness through redemption by the blood of Jesus helps mend the brokenness that led to the failure.
So let’s not hit the one who has a broken wing. Let’s not stand scoffing at his sin. Let’s show him the path to healing which leads to obedience.