By: Danny Wallace
There is an age-old question that has prompted much discussion. If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?
The answer is, “No.” It transmits sound waves, but without a receiver (the ear) to receive those transmissions there is no sound. There are only waves moving through the air that will become sound when we receive them.
This brings us to a question far more cruel and perplexing. If a child is abused, but they never speak of it, does it in any way lessen the transgression?
Once again, the answer is, “Of course not.” The pain was inflicted and received by the child. Abuse doesn’t need a group of critics to sanction its reality to make it true. Just as the falling tree makes a crashing sound when only one person is there to hear it, likewise, the abuse of a single child has a horrific impact even if there was no witness to the abuse.
Not much in this life gets on my nerves. I can pretty much roll with the punches. I think it’s the result of being a survivor. Survivors learn to pick themselves up, dust off their boots, and keep moving forward. True survivors don’t sweat the small stuff. With that having been said, I can put up with pretty much anything, or anybody. The one thing that sends me quickly scrambling through my treasure chest to find blessing, love, and forgiveness for is ungratefulness.
Many of us go through life feeling that it is our calling to point out what is wrong with life. We do it with food, accommodations, weather, and most especially, people. It’s as if we are earth’s “Perfection Monitors,” and our life’s calling is to critique everything, and everyone except the man in the mirror.
Have you ever encountered such a person? Better yet, have you ever been such a person? It is a burden that is far too heavy for any mortal to bear. Jesus was strong enough, wise enough, and pure enough to do it, and yet, He would not.
Jesus found the best in everyone, and everything. How do I know this? Because before Jesus would draw His last breath He said to His Father, “Papa, please forgive these people for what they have done to Me. They have no idea what they are doing.”
Who was He talking about? He was talking about everyone that had a hand in his public disgrace, and ultimate death. He was talking about Pilate, the Roman soldiers who nailed Him to the cross, the religious leaders who spat in His face, and every person who mocked, and laughed at Him on His way to the cross. He was talking about you, and He was surely talking about me. We read that story and picture ourselves sending lightning bolts to fry a few Pharisees under similar circumstances. However, Jesus saw the best in them and asked that they be forgiven.
It is the same today. We see people and disapprove of them in the same way that we complain about our food. We say that we are praying for them. Unfortunately, it is usually similar to how we say a 30-minute blessing over the same food we’re about to spend another half-hour complaining about. Religion is like a cocky, little bantam rooster that is strutting around in the barnyard pretending to be an eagle. It loves to strut and posture – cluck and criticize. We are the same when we say things like, “I’m praying for them, and I love them, but…”
The moment we add the comma, and the “but,” we have no idea what we’re talking about. And do you know why? It is because the person who has picked up a stone of judgment or criticism for another person does so from a heart of ungratefulness. In the end, ungratefulness produces a tremendous noise and multitudes are there to hear us fall.
If we were truly grateful for the abundance that we have been forgiven we would never pick up a stone of judgment, or speak one word of criticism toward someone who doesn’t yet understand that they have been forgiven too. The word of our testimony is the depth of our love for others. No one is interested in whether or not we are praying for them if they are unworthy to place their feet under our table. An open invitation at our table of life is living testimony to the truth of our praying, and the depth of our love.
We are as perfect as we are ever going to be. We are perfect because Jesus, who paid the price for us is perfect. The perfection by which we will enter Heaven will always belong to Jesus. We are perfect because we are heirs to His perfection. We can no longer continue in our judgment and criticisms of everyone and everything, while excusing ourselves as “doing so” through our imperfect state. We are not here for us. We are here for those we carelessly judge.
In all things, let us be grateful. For gratefulness comes from a heart of humility. It testifies of the blue sky with no notice of one small cloud. It doesn’t posture in public prayer – it lives in constant gratitude. Just as a tree falling in the forest becomes “sound” when received by the human ear, likewise, “perfect” happens via a grateful heart.
Perfection becomes imperfect when perceived through a heart of ungratefulness. Imperfection became perfection when one tree lifted high One perfectly grateful heart.