Tony Campolo, a former Seminary professor in Philadelphia, used to take a commuter train to the school each day. One day it was raining, but since he could not find an umbrella at home, he left for work without one. On the train, Tony sat beside an elderly woman. As he got up to get off the train, he absent-mindedly picked up the umbrella beside him. The older woman grabbed it as well and said, “Young man, I am not going to let you steal my umbrella.” Tony replied, “I’m sorry. I have no intention of stealing your umbrella. I am not that kind of a person. I just wasn’t thinking when I picked it up. Please forgive me.” The woman seemed to accept Tony’s apology, and he left the train to teach his classes that day.
That afternoon, Tony’s wife called his secretary to say that Tony must have all their umbrellas at work since she had been unable to find any at home either. The secretary checked, and sure enough, she found four umbrellas in Tony’s office and sent them home with him that evening. He tucked them all under his arm and headed for the train. As he sat down in an open seat, he noticed the elderly woman from the morning sitting across from him. Tony smiled at her, and she replied, “Four umbrellas? You’ve had a pretty good day, young man.”
Friends, we often misjudge others because we don’t know all the facts. The elderly woman had plenty of circumstantial evidence to support her conclusion that Tony was an umbrella thief. However, her conclusion was totally wrong. Though she probably was not motivated by any malice, she was guilty of falsely ascribing wrongdoing to Tony. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus warns us, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” As we deal with other people each day, we need to be careful that we do not misjudge others based on limited information.
It is also true that the Lord will never misjudge us. He does know all the facts in every situation. That is a comforting thought when we are being falsely accused by others. There is another side of the coin, however, to keep in mind. Because the Lord knows all the facts, he also knows about every less than perfect action and attitude in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I think there are far more people who assume I am a better person than I actually am, than there are people who assume I am worse than I really am. No, God is not confused by circumstantial evidence that may cause others to wrongly accuse us. However, He also knows about selfish motives, impure thoughts, and prideful attitudes on my part, of which others are totally ignorant.
Friends, the great news is that even knowing all the facts, God still chooses to extend his grace to us through Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:9 tells us that “if we confess our sins, (even the ones no one else knows about) God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” All who turn to Jesus as Lord and Savior can cling to that promise.
Yours, thankful that knowing all about me, God still loves me,
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church