Meet other’s flaws with caring and compassion

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 18, 2005

Being a good southern gentleman, I do what my wife tells me to do. After all, she is the love of my life and my best friend. I am not ashamed to admit that she has me whipped and trained me to her likeing. The other day she asked me after church if I would stop by the grocery store and pick up a few things before the storm hit so I agreed. In our first year of marriage, to be exact, after only being married 3 weeks, she got rid of my precious Jeep Wrangler which was and still is today my dream car; so going to the store before a hurricane after preaching my heart out and running the Devil out of Demopolis from the pulpt was not such a huge request.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I could see right away that I would have to park out a ways because the parking lot was jammed full near the store. With haste I sprang from my ford explorer covered with University of Georgia memorbilla, I locked the doors and headed for the front door of the grocery store. Cars were buzzing by, grocery carts dodged me and I dodged them. People were looking for their cars and others were standing around outside the front doors.

There was a family standing on the sidewalk near the left side entrance. At first I paid little attention. There must have been about six all together. There was a mother and five children, all of them were small. I would guess that the oldest would have been in about the fourth grade.

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As I stepped out of the parking lot across the curb and onto the sidewalk by the entrance, a man carrying a single bag of groceries came out the exit door. The man was probably in his early to mid forties. He was not old by any imagination, but it was obvious that the spring chicken in him had gone to roost.

This man walked with his back slightly bent. His head was bowed a bit and you could tell that he was choosing his steps carefully. On the left-hand side of his face he wore a large white patch. The patch covered his eye and much of his upper face on that side. He had either had a serious injury or some type of surgery. Suddenly… from the sidewalk I heard in a loud, piercing voice, “LOOK MOMMA! THAT MAN’S ONLY GOT ONE EYE! Without another breath the little girl repeated, “LOOK MOMMA! THAT MAN’S ONLY GOT ONE EYE. HE’S ONLY GOT ONE EYE, MOMMA!”

Instantly my eyes went to the man. Just as quickly, his head bowed even further, his back bent a little more and he scampered to find his way off the sidewalk and into the parking lot. Before he could barely clear the curb, the little girl blurted out again, “MOMMA! MOMMA! WHY’S THAT MAN ONLY GOT ONE EYE?”

I felt so sorry for the guy and at the same time angry at the parent of the little girl. The mother never said a word. She never shushed the child, or explained the situation. She just grunted like an ole hog. I wanted desperately to turn and watch the man go across the parking lot, but I dared not. I wanted to learn something, but I did not want to add to his grief.

As I grabbed for a grocery basket my mind flashed a picture of Jesus and His disciples as they passed by a man born blind. “Lord, who sinned, this man or his parents?” Do you remember that stunt they pulled? It embarrassed Jesus that His own disciples could be so insensitive. He was so moved that He stopped right there and healed the man.

At that moment I longed for the gift of healing. I would have loved to run across the parking lot, lay hands on the man and heal him right on the spot, but I’m not Jesus and I can’t do that.

When people have problems, it is bad enough to have to live with them without someone shouting out in a shrill voice… “MOMMA! THAT MAN’S ONLY GOT ONE EYE.”

People often think it is their lot in life to “point out” the flaws of the other, at the same time, they would have been repulsed by the behavior of this child.

Do you realize that gossip is no different than what this child did at the grocery store? We zero in on someone’s fault or in some cases, a perceived fault, and blast it out to as many as will listen. We catch someone when they are down and stomp them further into the ground.

This little girl made me rethink people’s flaws. It made me understand why James said, “Confess your sins one to another”, instead of telling us to confess them to any and everybody.

If you find a man with one eye, be compassionate… like Jesus was compassionate. He may have poked it out himself, but at any rate, he still only has one eye. What ever the reason for his flaw, he still needs the compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you see a man with only one foot, or one hand or only a shadow of a life, for whatever reason they have it, they need the loving compassion of Jesus Christ. If they can’t get it through us, they will probably never find it alone, and by the way, just be thankful you can see!

Marshall Murphy – Pastor, First Christian Church of Demopolis