Once, a British nobleman died and left behind a big castle containing priceless paintings. From time to time the public would be invited to come and see the beautiful artwork. One day a group of people were moving through the large rooms and admiring the paintings as they went. One elderly woman never spoke a word but would repeatedly go up close to each picture and examine the frame very carefully. After the visit, someone asked her what she thought of it all. "It was perfect," she said with enthusiasm. "I could not find a speck of dust anywhere." How often we miss the beauties of life because we are so intent on looking for faults. Someone puts it this way:
"There is so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, that it is not fair for any of us to speak against the rest of us."
There is nothing that blinds love so much as being judgmental. Like the elderly woman in the above story, I have spent far too much time looking for the dust and missing the beautiful works of art standing right in front of me. I think I’ve figured out why.
Most of us who follow Christ know not to throw out opinionated judgments on people because we don’t like, agree with or understand them. We have been commanded to love like Christ and as His children, that’s really what we want to do.
What usually trips me up is that if I see something or someone (I think) is amiss, I immediately determine it’s my job to correct them. So I begin analyzing, comparing, reasoning and formulating scriptural arguments to back up my future attempt to “fix the problem”. This may seem at the time very noble, but it will also remove my ability to see anything beautiful in them.
All I will see is the “dust on the frame”. Any goodness I might have seen is pushed aside because it will weaken my case against them thus prevent me from “fixing them”. This immediately puts the person in the position of being a possible opponent instead of a potential friend.
One of hardest lessons to learn is sometimes good people do dumb, bad, and selfish things and sometimes bad people do wise, good and compassionate things. Problem is I can’t see into their heart so I don’t know if the one standing in front of me is a good person or a bad one. God alone knows that, and many times He just doesn’t choose to tell me which one is which. He just directs me to treat every person I meet with the same mercy and patience I want them to show me. Sad to think how many beautiful pictures I’ve missed while looking at the dust on the frame.
I am sometimes so amazed at the power and revelation found in the statement; “I can only do what I see my Father do”. This statement is built on the old testament truth that states… “Unless the Lord builds the House they who work, work in vain and unless the Lord guards the city they who watch, watch in vain”. Christ never worked in vain and neither will I if I’ll take the time to figure out whether this is my business or not. This will be infinitely easier if my goal is to see the picture and not look for the dust.
We should never just assume that this person, church service, bible study, mission work has been put in front of me to correct. Yet we must always assume that those things placed in front of me are for me to reveal Christ and His wonderful love.
The real question is not whether or not something is misguided, left out, or even downright wrong… The real question is …whether God is doing anything about it at present and does God really want my help?
If it isn’t time and He’s not doing anything, then leave them alone, step back and look at the picture and try to find something more than just the dust on the frame.