The cashier explained she needed his right thumbprint on his check. As he began to raise his left hand, she stopped him with the words, “No, I need your right thumb.” Again his left hand moved upwards and he opened his mouth to speak. She interrupted him and explained very succinctly she needed his right thumbprint.
Imagine her surprise when he finally raised his right hand above the counter. It was minus a thumb … which was what he had been trying to tell her.
That little scenario stayed with me.
I grew up in a church that proclaimed to know all the right answers … all the correct ways to do things … all the necessary words to speak … if you wanted to go to heaven. If someone tried to ask a question … state a different opinion … or in any way deviate from the declarations … then they were chastised. There was only one way to function in order to arrive at heaven’s gates … their way.
The farmer who lived in the country would never make it. He didn’t wear a suit to church … and his wife was hatless and gloveless. There was no explanation available to compensate for their lack of respect for God’s house. Or the new Christian who had just given his heart to Christ, but hadn’t yet been given all the rules … so lit up a cigarette on the sidewalk outside the church. He was told in no uncertain terms that his trip to the altar had been in vain. He had already sinned.
In my early days of parenting I behaved just like my church. I knew the answers … and my children’s actions and behaviors were always judged by my black and white perspective. I would interrupt their explanations with my “rightness”.
What if God treated us that way?
As I have matured (nice way to say gotten older), I try to refrain from making declarations. There are two sides to every story. Many situations are not just black and white.
Even though I’m asking for a right thumbprint … they may not have a right thumb.
“They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” John 8:7 (NLT)