Recently a lady came through my lane at work and she had a smudge on her face. In Pennsylvania Dutch terms, we call that “schmutz.” Schmutz is a term I use for things like mayonnaise and ketchup, but it can also be used to describe a grease smudge. When you have a small cut, I might say to you, “Put some schmutz on it,” referring to ointment. Nonetheless, this lady had schmutz of some sort on her face and I tried to politely let her know.
When I told the lady about her schmutz, she was so grateful. She couldn’t see the smudge on her face because she didn’t have a mirror. She had been walking around with it on her face all morning and no one said a thing.
Today’s verse talks about a face smudge that we can so easily see on our neighbors. We all have schmutz on our face but we don’t have the mirrors in hand. Many times we find faults in others and those faults are also our own. It is difficult to see yourself, to see all the bits and pieces, but God can help you see every smudge if you pay attention to His voice and you continue to be in prayer. Whether you know it or not, God knows you better than you know you. I’m praying that today you will able to show grace and mercy to the schmutz of others as you intentionally wash your own face with the help of the Spirit.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
-Matthew 7:1-5 [MSG]
Today when I was walking my dog, he was charged by another dog. I was prepared for the situation; however, because the same dog owner allowed this to happen weeks ago. Last time, he had let his Golden Retriever run loose and the dog came and snapped at my dog. This time, he left his German Shepherd loose, and although there was no snapping, I was not a happy camper at the second episode of negligence.
In life we will meet a person who will do something that irritates us, that hurts us or something that is wrong. We will throw our hands in the air (or sometimes our fists) and demand change. We will get angry. We will say words (sometimes words that are not positive, life speaking words). We will be frustrated by these people who do not do what we want them to do; however, we cannot expect them to change and act as we wish. Nor can we expect someone to follow the commands of God.
I was mad at this man today. He has proven twice that he cannot handle his dogs. The first time I was upset. I was injured. My dog was frightened. It was not a good situation. This second time, though prepared for it, was just as bad. Even so, some people will not change. We can only control our reactions to a situation—not someone else. It is how you react to any given situation that says something about you. I know I do not always react as I should, but I also know that over the years, the Holy Spirit has helped me to react better to each given situation. Don’t let situations and circumstances control you. React with love.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 [NLT]