And this I did for a few years, until one day I went through some really tough times and woke up (at least a little).
Last night I was graciously given the opportunity to spend some time with some old and new friends in ministry to a family that was going through a very difficult time. Sometime during the evening, I had a brief conversation with the man who actually purchased that Kawasaki Vulcan from me. I had indeed gone through some very difficult times personally, financially, and career-wise, and I was looking to unload that bike (and just about anything else which would help me make ends meet at the time). During the conversation, Pastor Such-&-Such, whom I have become good friends with in recent history, over-hearing this conversation, reminded me of an interaction we had during the time I was selling my bike to the other gentlemen. The conversation went a little like this:
Pastor Such-&-Such: I remember when you were selling that bike to him.
Pastor Such-&-Such: Yeah, I did not realize all the stuff you were going through at the time, and I said something stupid like "I'll buy some of your underwear from you since you are trying to sell everything." You should've punched me in the face.
I went on to tell Pastor Such-&-Such that I honestly did not even remember having that interaction. He told me that I said something gracious to him (which must have been from the Lord, as I was a pretty broken and bitter guy at the time), but that I "should've punched (him) in the face."
Since coming home last night, I have mulled that over some. Maybe I should have punched Pastor Such-&-Such in the face. Just kidding!!! Really, I have thought about how often we as people say things to others without ill intent, only later to realize that maybe we should not have said those things at all. I have contemplated the ways in which we as people are always looking to take the comments of others personally, when their actual intentions are not to harm at all - They actually may intend to lighten our load with some sort of humor (as I believe Pastor Such-&-Such meant, since he is one of the kindest and most godly people I know). I have wrestled over the fact that we as people are prone to assume the worst in the situations of life, when in fact, whatever the circumstance or relational situation, the Lord is working to mold us into the image of His Son. Honestly, I guess this discussion with this great pastor who has become a great friend just gave me another reminder of just how rampant sin is and how it (even inadvertently) affects every realm of life and relationship.
In John 8, Jesus addressed a crowd who had gathered to stone a woman caught in adultery. Just as they were about to find the biggest and best head-thumpin' rocks they could sling, Jesus instructed that "He who is without sin should cast the first stone." Slowly, the crowd began to dwindle, more and more, until only Jesus and this woman who had been caught in the middle of a pretty significant sin were left standing alone. Jesus did not tell her that he should've punched her in the face. Nor did He tell her that since He was actually without sin, He would be casting that first rock. He said to her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
The truth is, we all should've been punched in the face. You, me, Pastor Such-&-Such, my neighbor, Mother Teresa, and the woman caught in adultery ALL deserve to be punched in the face. We all are deserving of the condemnation of the One who is without sin. Yet because of His great goodness and grace, that very One, the Lord Jesus Christ, has given Himself, taking on the very wrath of God (essentially taking our spiritual punch in the face), that those who receive Him would not be condemned; that those whom He brings to faith might have the opportunity to "Go, turn away from sin" and live for Him.
It is I who should have been punched in the face!!! Thank God that Christ took the punishment for me and paid the great price for my sin! Will you repent of your sin and turn to Him, being forgiven of your sin as well?