Tiny Scars

Back around a month ago I was down at the lumber yard looking at some wood and made the mistake of running my hand along the edge of a piece of lumber. I felt this sharp prick as a splinter from the rough edge dug its way into my finger. Ouch! I looked at the wound and it appeared to be OK; it appeared as though the splinter just stuck me and came back out. No problem, just a little pain from the prick, so I went about things without worrying about it. That is. . . until a week later when that finger began to hurt like nobody's business, swelled up and got very red. Uh oh. It seems something did get stuck in there after all. So it was time to get out a needle, alcohol, peroxide, anti-biotic ointment, etc. and get to work doing some minor surgery. I had to dig around in there and find that little bit of wood that was irritating things and get it out in order for the wound to heal.

A month later the finger is fine (the body does have this remarkable ability to heal itself) but there is a tiny, tiny scar left behind. It's only an eighth of an inch long and so light you wouldn't see it if you didn't know where to look. But it's there and will probably be there the rest of my life.

We all bear other tiny scars. They are the places in the soul where we got pricked by life at some point. The pain will heal, but the scars remain. Yet, so often we do not see the scars of life on a person and we forget that maybe they are the way they are because of the hurt and the pain of life. This is where compassion and patience comes into play. This is why we need to be careful about being all self-righteous and judgmental about the failings of others. They most likely have tiny scars we don't see.

And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit. Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1Co 13:2-13)

The situation Paul was writing about here is described in the previous (and subsequent) chapters of Corinthians. The Corinthian church was having problems, big problems, brought about by contentiousness, pride, and division over spiritual gifts and different social customs among the diverse membership. Much of Corinthians is difficult to understand since Paul flips back and forth between parody of the Corinthians questions and answers to those questions. For the most part, Paul is telling them, "Quit arguing about this stuff and learn to lover one another."

It's a lesson that must be repeated for every generation, and usually repeatedly within each generation. Spiritual gifts such as prophecy can be a great benefit to the body of Christ, but they come with a burden as well. Only those who have reached Paul's level of humility can safely bear this burden. Remember that Paul had to be knocked down, blinded, led around by someone else, before he got the point. I think he really meant it when he said he was the "chief of sinners" (1 Ti. 1:15). He recognized that he was in the same condition as those he was trying to help, maybe a little further along the path, but still only a humble man in need of God's mercy.

And so I watch with irritation these days as I see so many puff themselves up and in pride and self-righteousness proudly demand that others are not the true church, not true believers, not really "with it like we are"….


Who among us is good enough to make those claims? Who among us doesn't bear the scars of life, a death of a thousand cuts, and in need of compassion and patience and healing. Jesus came to heal this sick, the broken hearted, the weak and frail. He came to save sinners (like you and me) and so why would anyone expect that we will find some kind of perfection in the lives of the saints? No. Perfection belongs to God alone, and anything we have that is good is a reflection of His goodness. We will be fully perfected in eternity, not here. Here we are beaten and bruised and scarred, stumbling towards God in the hope of our salvation in Jesus.

The simple solution to all this self-righteous condemnation and pontification is simple. Look at your own tiny scars all over you soul and remember that others are in the same condition you are.



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