05 March, 2009

Is my yes, yes?

So there have been a lot of conversations/situations in my life right now that have made me consider how we treat the "least of these." I've come to see that too often we take that to an extreme and only consider the poor, rejected, marginalized in society, instead of looking at the least of these in our own lives which could be someone we don't get along with, someone who works with us, someone in our neighborhood that makes us uncomfortable.

It's easy to pass over the people we don't want to see when we don't want to see them. It's easy to say an unkind word or use an unkind tone when we are less than fond of someone or don't realize we talk to them that way. But turn it around - what of when you are treated as someone else's least of these - when you are the recipient of the brush off, the unkind word, or become the outsider. It sucks right? It hurts - and somehow the injustice is always graver when we are who is having the injustice done to us.

There is a story in scripture about the man whose debt was forgiven and then goes out and encounters someone who owes him less - he roughs the man up and threatens to (or does) throw him into prison. The first man (the forgiver) hears about it and calls the man into question.

Perhaps the man knew he was being a punk. Perhaps it was deliberate - and that's how I've always heard it preached. But what about when I can be the recipient of unkindness and then turn around and be unkind to someone else? Was I maliciously unkind to person A? Is it only a response to being unfairly treated? Or, are we as people that blind and compartmentally minded?

Which is why I think scripture also tell us to have our yes be yes and our no be no (Matthew 5:37, James 5:12) - it speaks to consistency and integrity - and we all should strive to live a life where our word and deeds match, where we do what we say we will when we say we will, and part of that goes back to how we treat "the least of these."

I can't claim to love God and love people and speak unkindly to someone I work with. I can rail against the injustice of being excluded from a lunch meeting then intentionally not call someone to eat lunch with me. I can't look at each situation as it's own incident - but must consider the greater calling of my life and Who I say I adhere to.

It is hard when we feel unfairly treated to get over it - but it's what we're called to. My treating you unjust because I feel slightly is wrong, unhealthy, unhelpful and only creates more boundaries.

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