There is one thing that I am slow to forgive in this world, that is stupidity. The other day, I’m doing fifty on a crowded, known to be dangerous, stretch of Pittsburgh highway, when a motorcyclist flies by my right side, driving in the breakdown lane. I lay on my horn and call him an idiot. Then it hit me. I have done stupider things. Further, my anger was probably not related to my concern for his safety, but the competitive spirit that fuels road rage.
The mental process that forgives us our own stupidity, while holding others fully accountable is deeply rooted. We want to be right. We’d rather be right — especially concerning whatever is on our plate right now — than be happy. The best way to have ourselves be always right, is to judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves. Once we are accustomed to being always superior, it is easy to become consistently unforgiving.
Jesus tells a story. In it a man owes a huge amount on his credit card. (I know, I always consider such people to be really stupid. I only owe… ) He calls the bank, pleads his case. Tells the manager that if he is forced to pay he’ll lose his home, and the handicapped child (which he doesn’t have) will be forced to live on the street. The bank forgives his great credit card debt. (this is one of Jesus’ miracle stories) This same man, that very afternoon, runs into a co-worker who owes him for a bet he lost on the Super Bowl. (I always consider people who bet money on sports to be idiots) The man tells his coworker that he must pay up immediately with interest, or else the boss will find out how stupidly this coworker does his job. The people in the surrounding cubicles hear the exchange and go to the boss and tell how the man with the credit card debt regularly pilfers from the coffee donation jar. Careful who you call stupid. (see Matthew 18:21-35)
Extra credit: What happens when we call a person we used to respect, stupid? Have they changed? Or have we simply gone one step further in our need to consider ourselves superior?