there was a mean man and a virtuous man. (Which is not entirely realistic
because good people have bad in them and bad people have good in them.)
The mean man
is more aware of his crooked ethics and morals when he is around is virtuous
friend than when he is not. The mean man understands his friend is good and
when he speaks to him he hears what he says through his friend’s ears.
mean man is around his virtuous friend the derogatory comments that comprise
80% of his conversations with his other friends seem obsolete, foolish and
The mean man
might be inclined to discontinue his relationship with the virtuous man and
continue on his dark and merry way. But it would be in his best interest not
to. If the mean man walks it is indicative of what he wants most.
To have an
impact on the mean man the virtuous man did not preach sweaty sermons. He did
not hold him hostage and make him say a sinner’s prayer. He did nothing but
simply be himself. He was as plain as good is.
He did not hover
over the mean man and try to make him change, because the type of change that
would produce might be disingenuous. The good man did not shame him either. But,
he would not spare the bad man the honest truth about himself even if it hurt
him, because love has the best interest of the beloved in mind.
This is how
it is with God and us. When we are around God, who has befriended us, we have a
sense of how He thinks about what we think, say and do. We learn many of our
ways are not enlightened or wise. We also learn we are more loved and accepted
than we could ever imagine.
and merciful presence transforms us like the good man’s presence can transform
the bad man, if he will let it. God’s mercy takes the form of discipline too. God
loves us enough to tear down walls, but he does not destroy them and vacate the
site. He rebuilds.
the good man’s kindness leads to a changed life for the bad man. Hopefully
God’s kindness leads us to change our lives. God’s
goodness, and our goodness, is not without effect. It is contagious.
*Painting is "The Bridge, Blackwell's Island" by George Bellows (1882-1925)