A young teenage girl accidentally stepped into some dog poop as she was walking in a park and said a cuss word. Her parents chastised her for the slip and said she should choose her words more carefully. The girl rolled her eyes in response but said nothing, knowing the confrontation that would follow if she did. She had heard much worse from her father and both parents knew it.
The girl’s younger brother came running to inform the family that their car had just started rolling down the hill from where they were parked. The boy knew he had distracted his father after they parked, and he wondered if his father would realize it.
The father let the same curse word used by his daughter slip from his lips at the sight of his car rolling into another car just then. The mother looked sharply at her daughter as if to caution her not to say a word. The mother then realized just who the car that had been hit belonged to, her least favorite person at church. He was running from across the street, obviously upset and shouting. Her mouth dropped open and she cussed as well, but it was much worse than her husband’s slip.
The two kids looked at each other and smiled, allies for just a minute. Together they watched the interactions between the adults from a safe distance, afraid to say or do something that might further aggravate the situation, or remind them of the cause of the accident. Their father was almost shouting. He was willing to pay for the damages, but the accusations that he had done this on purpose were completely out of line. He told the man he ‘prayed’ he would see reason soon, and forgive the unfortunate accident.
At church both men’s faces showed no stress or aggression. Both appeared to worship and focus on the purpose of their attendance and to have forgiven all of mankind for every wrong. At the end they shook hands and agreed to dinner that night with smiles. As the father walked away he smiled slightly. Later he told his wife a minor oversight on the man’s apparel had made the encounter easier. They would be the ‘better people’ by their kindness.
The man arrived for dinner and was greeted as a favored friend. As they sat down to a specially prepared meal, it was the daughter’s turn to pray for the meal and she hesitated. The normal prayer the family used didn’t seem good enough. She decided her parents would prefer an impressive prayer to show that they were better people, and she started out well, but was unable to complete it; much to her parents’ dismay.
The prayer’s ending prompted by her father further humiliated her, and she ran from the table. Her brother giggled unwisely, and the wrath in his father’s eyes brought that to a stop. He had been the cause of the accident, and he knew it. To everyone’s surprise, he apologized to the man and then ran from the table as well.
Moral of the story:
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
In Matthew 2:8 we read of Herod’s choice of words to the wise men about the baby Jesus. “And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.” His words sound good, but I doubt he meant it. He acted worshipful and sincere and this story explored what that might look like today. Even those who mean well and desire to honor their God have moments of insincerity while appearing good.
We may not like holding up the mirror and realizing there are times when things don’t go right and we could have chosen better. Hind-sight is great for that sort of realization but in the MOMENT I think everyone has messed up. The last thing I want is to admit I am wrong when my anger is hot, or that the outward appearance is a complete fake. Worship can’t really be faked, for if God is real and God is all-knowing; when worship is only an act – He undoubtedly knows it. Anger is not the real problem, I honestly believe God understands when we get angry. It occurs to me that I chastise myself and want to get rid of anger or cussing; instead of rid myself of dishonest worship or actions.