Look at the possibilities, not the faults

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2012

“Victoria, help me hold this steady so I can label it,” I said as I lifted a new Christmas storage bin onto the sofa.

“Of course you’re labeling it,” she said. “You just love using your Sharpie pen.”

Victoria’s right. I love to label things. My family has grown accustomed to labeled plastic containers in the cabinets and pantry but was surprised when I took my trusty Sharpie to the refrigerator door.

“You can’t write on that,” my husband protested.

“Why not? The drawers are already labeled: deli, crisper, meats. I’m just continuing what Kenmore started.”

“Who writes on their refrigerator?” my shocked husband continued.

And now we all know the answer

to that question. I do. When you open the door to my refrigerator, you will not have to wonder where

to find relish,

salad dressing

and condiments. It’s clearly mark-ed.

Because of this, no one was really stunned to open the dishwasher and find “steak knives,” “butter knives,” “forks,” etc. neatly written in Sharpie black, on the door above the silverware basket. But that’s where it ends. I do not label people.

People are not generically, mass-produced products, but divinely

created individuals who should never be judged and grouped into categories by others. When tempted to form a critical opinion or predict someone’s future based on their

past mistakes, I’m reminded of Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” I find it so much easier to recognize bad habits and traits in others than to admit those same tendencies in myself. Right before I judge someone and assign them a negative label, I stop and take a long, hard look at myself. Then I repent and rediscover God’s infinite mercy.

Mercy. It’s been defined as compassion towards an offense and if it were visible, according to Psalm 23: 6, you’d see it following me. God’s goodness and mercy follow me to mop up my mistakes and show His faithfulness. Mercy lines the tracks I leave behind, and when my children follow my trail, they will see my footprints outlined with God’s mercy. They will see how even when my path went through difficult circumstances, sometimes when I chased after things I shouldn’t have, God was still there to rescue me when I called out to Him.

So while I will continue to sort, organize and label my possessions for easy access, I will use my Sharpie to draw the line at labeling people. Instead of seeing faults,

may my eyes be open to see the

possibilities in others. May I see

the permanent marker of God’s goodness and mercy following them, too.

Ronny may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.