I don’t know about you, but my biggest regrets deal with a few failed relationships. James, the half brother of Jesus, tells us to carefully measure our words and attitudes. How many of us think about the “if onlys” in our lives? If only, I would have been more patient; if only I would have forgiven a person for their actions; if only I would have spent more time focusing on the positive qualities of a person rather than their negative traits; if only my schedule would have allowed me the time to do the right thing the first time around; and if only I would have followed God’s Word.
I recently heard a story that helps put our “if onlys” in perspective. A young lady named Sally relates an experience she had in a seminary class, given by her teacher, Dr. Smith. She says Dr. Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons. One particular day, Sally walked into the seminary and knew they were in for a fun day. On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts. Dr. Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and he would allow them to throw darts at the person’s picture.
Sally’s girlfriend drew a picture of a girl who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend drew a picture of his little brother. Sally drew a picture of a former friend, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on the face. Sally was pleased with the overall effect she had achieved.
The class lined up and began throwing darts. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was filled with disappointment when Dr. Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats.
As Sally sat thinking about how angry she was because she didn’t have a chance to throw any darts at her target, Dr. Smith began removing the target from the wall. Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus – holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced.
Dr. Smith said only these words… “In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” – Matthew 25:40. No other words were necessary; the tear filled eyes of the students focused only on the picture of Christ.
How have our actions or words impacted others? What souls are ripped apart because we can’t forgive or forget? What Christ-like modeling are we projecting to our children or Christian friends when we fling out darts of hatred, un-forgiveness, discrimination, prejudice, and cruelty?
How can we be more Christ-like in our character? All of these are good questions for us to consider during our quiet times of reflection. Also good to consider is this little poem that testifies to what our hearts and actions should be:
“You are writing a message a chapter each day, by the deeds you do and by the word you say. Men may read what you write, whether faithful or true. Just what is the gospel according to you?”