Across the Pastor’s Desk: Let’s be gracious, Albert Lea

Published 8:00 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Charles Teixeira

One of the foundational mantras of community is the understanding that “no one’s perfect.” Your neighbor accidentally blows his grass clippings onto your yard — “no one’s perfect.” Your friend on Facebook takes a questionable stance on something — “no one’s perfect.” A longtime Vikings fan decides they can’t go through that kind of heartache again next season — “no one’s perfect.”

Charles Teixeira

Even while our weaknesses and errors cause pain for us and others, it’s our camaraderie in this shared imperfection that ought to create an almost immediate empathy toward one another.

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Let me be honest with you, though: That’s not always my response. I am often far too slow to forgive, far too quick to establish divisions and too resistant to carving out time in my schedule to try to understand the broken people around me. It’s just so much easier to write them off.

But why is that? If we are all imperfect, why are compassionate, civil, charitable responses toward one another so rare? Why is it that this is so difficult for me — and maybe for you, too?

Speaking for myself, I believe the reason extending grace toward others is so difficult is because I often dismiss my sins as reasonable, even excusable. I have good reasons for why I do what I do and I can defend myself perfectly. In fact, I’ve never lost an argument with myself!

On the other hand, though, I don’t know if I tend to hold my neighbor under the weight of their mistakes.

Psychology calls this self-serving bias, when we see our errors through rose-colored lenses but can’t seem to un-see the errors of others. We free ourselves from culpability but tend to condemn others for theirs.

If you’re someone who follows Jesus, though, we’re called to throw aside our self-serving bias and adopt a self-understanding that is cruciform, shaped by the cross.

Because we’re universally broken and sinful, it places you and I alongside our neighbors on equal footing at the cross in equal need for a savior. So, if we value the divine grace Christ has shown us, we should be ready and eager to extend grace to others.

This summer, probably sooner rather than later, we’ll inevitably be confronted with something your family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor does that offends us.

Instead of giving side-eyed glances, building fences or finding someone to ask, “Can you believe what so-and-so did?”, take a moment to consider: No one’s perfect.

You’re a broken person, too. Let’s extend the same grace to others you and I so quickly extend to ourselves.

And even more so, if we follow Jesus, the only perfect one — remember Christ has shown us more grace than we could have ever possibly deserved. Let’s model him, overflowing with that same undeserved grace for others.

Charles Teixeira is pastor at First Presbyterian Church.