This post will by no means be a Scripture lesson, although the idea for it came as I was reading a passage from John in my Bible this morning. For those not familiar with the story, a lame man was healed by Christ after being afflicted for some 80+ years. (If you want the entire story, you can find it in John 5:1-15) What struck me as I read it was that immediately – right after Jesus told the man “Get up, take up your bed and walk” and he did so, the next part of the verse says “And that day was the Sabbath.” Guess what? The Jewish leaders of the time immediately came to the man and said, in colloquial terms, “Hey – this is the Sabbath – it’s against the rules for you to be carrying your bed.” The story then continues to say that they began to actively persecute Christ because He was doing those things on the Sabbath. When I read that, I laughed right out loud, and shook my head somewhat ruefully at how little we, as a people, have changed in the 2000 years since Christ walked the Earth. I mean, if you believe the story is true (which, obviously, I do) instead of being happy that the man had been healed, they immediately began berating him for breaking the rules and finding fault in what had been done. They were experts at turning lemonade into lemons, you might say. They were wreckers, instead of builders. (Nice plug for the title, eh? 😀 )
“Ok,” you may be saying, “So what?” So this. Have you read the comment sections of any news articles lately? Perused the comments of things posted on social media? It doesn’t matter what the story is; how positive or uplifting, or how tragic and heartbreaking, there invariably are those who come along and feel that it is their God-given duty to point out something negative or something judgmental about the situation. They come thundering like gangbusters, making lemons out of lemonade and finding the dark cloud in every silver lining. By way of examples: snow slides off a roof and buries three children, one of whom dies. In among the expressions of grief and sorrow are those going on about how the parents should have kept the roof clean, or THIS is why you DON’T have metal roofs. A person posts about how they are going through a tough time for X or Y reason, and someone comes along with condemnation about their lifestyle, or even worse, some trite “Christian” statement about their need for God or lack of faith, or something similar.
We’re experts at judging others, and pointing out their faults and failings – and also experts at ignoring our own, a great many times. We tear down much more easily and quickly than we build up.
Want some encouragement? IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. None of us HAVE to do that. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means advocating the “lack of tough love” lifestyle put forth by so many, also known as the “I can’t say anything because…” Sometimes, there are situations in which we are called upon to take a stand, draw a boundary, or even ‘tell a harsh truth, wanting ten more times to tell a loving lie,’ to paraphrase a quote by Robert Brault. Compassion is not enabling. However, I firmly believe that those times are much fewer than what we may think. The encouragement I spoke of, above, comes in realizing that we can be builders instead of wreckers. We can uplift people instead of tearing them down. We can help instead of hurt, and when all else fails, we can choose to keep our bloody mouths shut instead of criticizing. (OUCH!! The author took a hit on that one. No pedestals here!)
I close with this poem, taken from the book God’s Minutes, and written by Carmelo Benvenga. May it come to your mind as it has to mine, and remind us all that we have a choice every minute of every day; the choice to be a Builder or a Wrecker.
God bless, today, my friends.
I watched them tearing a building down, a gang of men in a busy town. With a “Ho, heave ho!” and a lusty yell, they swung a beam and a sidewall fell. I asked a foreman, “Are these men skilled, and they kind you would hire if you were to build?” He laughed and said, “Why no, indeed, just common laborers are all I need. They can easily wreck in a day or two what builders have taken years to do.”
So I said to myself as I went on my way, ‘What part in the game of life do I play? Am I a Builder, who builds with care, thoughtfully measuring with rule and square? Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan, patiently doing the best I can? Or am I a Wrecker, who walks the town – content with the labor of tearing down?’