A couple of weeks ago I was asked to stand in for someone to do Sunday school. It came as a last minute request which didn’t leave me with any time to do planning. So, I decided to ‘wing it’ and took along my old standby for filling in the time…playdough. For some reason it is a great favorite with my sunday school class and can keep them happily occupied for a long time.
An idea for a lesson only came to me during worship…we sang a song about giving our burdens to Jesus because he cares for us. So I crammed a bunch of two-liters in a shopping bag and the children carried these burdens for some distance before giving it over to Jesus. We discussed the feeling of relief that came when we no longer had to carry that heavy weight ourselves, and had a great time of sharing about those things that can weigh our hearts down.
Anyhow, I digress. The playdough was a birthday gift to Jenna only a week before, so when a little girl came up to me at clean-up time asking to take some home I said no. Jenna probably wouldn’t have missed it but if I had said yes to the one piece of playdough I would have had to dole some out to everyone.
Anyhow, I was a bit taken aback to see the little girl roll the playdough up into a ball, stick it under the table, and proceed to innocently clean up until everything was packed away. When clean-up was over she retrieved the ball of playdough and marched out the door with it, thinking I hadn’t seen a thing. I regret what I did next….which was absolutely nothing. I let that little girl walk away scot free.
Why I did that, I don’t know. Everything in me was screaming to run after her and call her bluff. Her family hung around for quite a while chatting with other people after church. I was deeply offended by the wrongness of what she had done yet the issue had taken on a new dimension…to go and confront her after all that time in front of her family might have been interpreted as having racial undertones …by then the playdough seemed a small issue and I felt that people might think I am blowing things out of proportion.
I stewed on this for quite a while afterwards. I finally decided that it was a great lesson for me. Confronting the sin straight away would have helped me and the girl. It would have released me from the sense of offense and resentment at being taken advantage of, and it would have freed her from the guilt of getting away with something she knew was wrong. It would have been a redemptive thing…for us both. I did nobody any favors by trying to avoid a scene.
I am reminded by the passage in II Cor. 7 where Paul talks about how sorry the Corinthians were after they had read his first epistle. Although it had made him sad to sadden them he rejoiced over the fruit that came out of the whole thing. He mentioned that because they had a godly sorrow over their sins, it worked such great things in their hearts:
what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation , yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Has it ever happened to you that you felt constrained to speak out against unrighteousness but you decided not to rock the boat? Sometimes rocking the boat can be a good thing. As always, I suppose we need to check our motives. If we can’t speak the truth ‘in love’ and out of a heart that desires only the best for somebody else, it is perhaps better to say nothing. It is only when mercy and truth can meet together in your confrontation, that righteousness and peace gets the opportunity to flow into the situation.
Psa 85:10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
I should have spoken up. I robbed myself and the girl of the opportunity to see how the forgiveness and mercy of God can change something ugly into a blessing.