Sunday morning, as is my custom, I arrived at the church building an hour ahead of time. No one else was on the premises. An empty beer can rolled around the parking lot, so I picked it up. No one saw me.
This was not a short 12 ounce can, but was a tall bonus type container. There was no way that I could conceal it in my hand. There was no way that I could hide the labeling which revealed its former contents. Anyone who saw me carrying it would have immediately recognized the container as a beer can.
A truck pulled up to the stop sign at the end of the parking lot. The driver guided the truck slowly past me and waved.
Pretend with me for just a moment. You are that driver. You see a “preacher” walking toward a church building, carrying a Bible in one hand and a beer can in the other. What do you conclude?
I took the can into the church building. I intended to throw it into a small garbage can in a seldom used classroom at the front of the auditorium. But then its odor reached my nostrils and I decided that was not a good idea. The room holds the copy machine and is also utilized as a dressing room for men who wish to be baptized.
Pretend with me for just a moment. You are a visitor accompanying a member who has invited you to worship, or you are a candidate for baptism. You walk into the room while your host makes copies or you are escorted into the room to prepare for your baptism. You immediately recognize the smell of alcohol. You see the untarnished, recently emptied beer can in the garbage. What do you conclude?
Not wanting to leave the can in the building, I took it back outside to my truck. I didn’t want to hide it in the cab, lest some of the last drops soak into the carpet, so I placed it in the bed of my truck next to some empty styrofoam night crawler containers. I concealed these by unrolling the flexible bed cover and securing it in place. I hoped that no one would open the tailgate to sit on it after the services.
Pretend with me for a moment. You are a member of the congregation sitting on the open tailgate of the preacher’s truck. You glance inside, underneath the bedcover, and you see some recently emptied nightcrawler containers and a recently emptied beer can. What are your conclusions?
Paul said that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:6,7 ESV). In other words, love does not rejoice to find some wrongdoing in another person, but it rejoices to find the person doing right. Since love rejoices in the righteousness of another, it does not assume the worst when circumstances appear to reveal the worst. Love looks for and hopes for the best possible explanation.
Do we practice love? When we see someone in a questionable situation or circumstance, do we give them the benefit of the doubt? Or do we automatically jump to the worst possible conclusion?
I believe love prevailed in that truck driver who saw me carrying a Bible and a beer can last Sunday. I believe love would have prevailed in a visitor, a candidate for baptism, or a member.
May love always prevail in each of us.
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