I just came from Amazon where I was reading the comments around a new book I’m considering reading. In the running commentary several armchair theologians started sniping about Billy Graham and his ministry. Rev. Graham is one of the most respected people on the planet; even many who don’t agree with his beliefs respect and appreciate his integrity. I don’t know of anyone presently living who has made a more positive impact for Christ than Billy Graham. And yet–no surprise–there are those who criticize, demean and attack (none of whom likely have much if anything to show for their contributions to society).
It seems to me we have a category of critics who believe in good works as long as they are the “right” good works done “the right way” as determined by–who else?–themselves. It must be tough to be the human responsible for defining standards for the other 6 billion of us.
I’m not going abstract or deeply theological here, but I do think “roots” and “fruits” are both important. What ones does and why one does it are both important. However, if I’ve learned anything from mentors wiser and far more Godly than me, it is the importance of acknowledging the good in others, in spite of imperfection. (And believe me, I’m right there with the apostle Paul when it comes to the “chief of sinners” description he used to describe his nature.)
So what’s the homework assignment for the Holidays? Try for the next week to focus on the good that others do, even if you disagree with them. Whether the differences are political, theological, philosophical or practical, give attention to what’s good and right versus bad and wrong.
Of course this is should apply to people you like and love. Few of us ever over do it when it comes to recognizing, acknowledging and appreciating the good things family, friends and coworkers do.
I know I can’t silence the snipers and I’m not trying. (By the way, next time somebody takes a shot at you remember the criticism that even Billy Graham puts up with. It helps keep things in perspective.) I can encourage the thinking, feeling folks in my sphere of influence by reminding them and myself of the incredible good that gets ignored or swept under the carpet.
The world will be a little warmer and much less harsh if we do our homework and focus on the good in and done by others.