The Rest of the Story

radio.JPGAlmost all radio listeners know the feeling of wonderment upon hearing Paul Harvey announce, “And, now you know the rest of the story.” It is incredible how he weaves his magic in words. How does he do it?

Well, he does it by merely skirting around the truth or leaving out part of the story until the very last. For, unless we know all of the facts, it is virtually impossible to reach a correct conclusion. To his credit, Mr. Harvey tells us the rest of the story. This makes for interesting radio copy. It is part of the mystique that has made him famous.

Most, however, are painfully aware of the fact that a vast array of human relationships have suffered as a result of someone leaving out part of the story or skirting around the truth. This is not usually done in fun or merely for the sake of capturing someone’s attention. Many families and many Christian communities have been rent asunder by those who deviously practice such deeds.

What is even sadder still? It is almost impossible to turn off the torrent once the flood gates of half-truths have been opened. Instead of these stories finally fizzling out, it seems that they gain momentum. Perhaps this is because of our carnal nature. We become enamored with the seedy side of things far too easily. Whatever it is that causes this—wherever it comes from—it is to our discredit and disgrace if we choose to carry on with the charade.

In this regard Solomon’s wisdom counsels: “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Proverbs 26:20) It is easy to just accept whatever we hear, because “the words of a gossip are delicate morsels…” (Proverbs 26:22) It is not easy, however, to resist the temptation to imbibe these delicate morsels. It is even more difficult still, if we are put in a position of having heard some juicy tidbit, to seek the truth. For, such a quest often makes one unpopular with those who want to influence us with the tales they are bearing. And, it seems to be very difficult indeed to admonish those who persist in talebearing. But, all of these are expected of us by God!

There is such a great potential for hurting one another when we react without knowing the rest of the story. Since this is the case, it behooves God’s people to consider some additional thoughts in this regard.

First, be wary of the great danger inherent in jumping to conclusions.

This can cause contentions to persist needlessly. When we are informed as to only one point of view, our perspective is distorted. How will our conclusions be correct? Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”

The damage done by drawing conclusions without a grasp of the pertinent facts is immeasurable. We should not draw any conclusions about a matter unless or until we have spoken to all parties involved. Parents who are attempting to resolve conflicts between their children know this to be true. Consider this classic example: A Christian man moved to a new community. Shortly thereafter, he witnessed a sight which caused great trepidation. A “top-less bar” was located within sight of his place of employment. For several days running he noticed that the worship leader from the church he had recently joined was making afternoon visits to this disreputable establishment. He was aghast!

Well, when he was with his new Christian family for mid-week prayer services, he requested a meeting with the spiritual shepherds to discuss what he described as “a matter of urgency and gravity”. The leadership consented. Every person present gave him their undivided attention. He struggled a bit with what he had to report, but finally got it out. As he spoke a couple of shepherds resisted the urge to smile. One had to bite his tongue to keep from interrupting him.

When he paused for a breath one of them commended him for his concern and gently informed him that according to Jesus’ teaching he really should be talking to this brother instead of meeting with them. In this case they would save him the trouble, though. He had allowed himself to get worked up over nothing, because they knew this brother was going to this “strip bar” every afternoon. In fact, they said that he’d frequented similar places for years. Then they informed him that this man is an investigator for the state. He was seeking evidence in a pending case against this business. It was all too clear that his perspective was distorted and his conclusion was not correct.

Second, we must be alert to the menacing malady of spiritual myopia.

People who suffer from this vision disorder realize that things come into focus at very close distances. Up close, it is obvious what they are. However, things at greater distances aren’t so clear. It is very hard to make them out. Such is often the case in human relationships. Paul made an interesting observation about human failings in 1 Timothy 5:24. He stated: “The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”

In many instances, what certain individuals have done wrong is very clear. The temptation, because of our myopic way of viewing things, is to see only these errors. However, the inspired observation states that “the sins of others trail behind them.” It is not an absolute rule, but it happens more often than not that when two or more people have conflict there is usually enough sinning going on for everyone to be afflicted. It is the old law of “cause and effect” at work in interpersonal relationships. So, if we draw conclusions on the basis of that which is immediately obvious, we are likely to miss something that is yet to trail along behind. Unless we evaluate things circumspectly our conclusions will, in the end, be more likely to be only partially correct.

Third, we must beware of the ever present temptation to play the “blame game”.

It seems that we humans are ever seeking to justify our actions by the misdeeds of others. Adam’s sin certainly was not his fault, right? He tried to blame God by saying, in essence, “It is your fault, God. You put the woman here.” Next, he made a feeble attempt to shift the blame to Eve by saying to God (in what must have been a whiny tone of voice), “She gave the fruit to me.” In the end, his own sin could not be denied. For, his final three words were: “I ate it.” (See: Genesis 3:12)

It is never right to do wrong. Adam was responsible and accountable for his own actions. Playing the “blame game” did not work for him. It will not work for us, either. Think about it. When we hear others seeking to justify their misdeeds on the basis of what someone did or did not do, is this not Adam’s folly being replayed? If we draw conclusions about what we hear when the “blame game” is being played, are we not participants in that nonsensical effort to justify misdeeds on the basis of the actions of others? If we do, then the rest of the story may well be quite foreboding for us as well. In my estimation we need to spend a lot less time trying to remove motes and a lot more time removing beams. We really must stop trying to justify ourselves. We need to humbly admit that we are all sinners, clinging desperately to the cross for salvation.

What is the rest of the story?

Perhaps we should consider the attitude of Jesus, when He was taken to Golgotha to be crucified. Actually, Hebrews 12:3 says that we should consider Him who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that we might not grow weary and lose heart. Even at the place of the Skull, with the murderous mob clamoring about Him, preparing to crucify Him with criminals, His words revealed the love in His heart. He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

The rest of the story seems to be: We all need to put on a heart of compassion towards one another.

We need to learn how to bear with one another and be willing to forgive one another, just as we’ve been forgiven by the Lord. We have all made mistakes, and if the Lord wills that time continue, we will continue to make mistakes. Our efforts should not be directed at tearing one another down, but building one another up in the Lord.

The devil shouts a raucous, raspy victory cheer, when followers of Jesus bite and devour one another. He knows that the army of the Lord is not able to go to war with him, when we are consuming one another.

Yes, even if the misdeeds of others are even worse that we imagined, might not the cause of Christ be profited if we lovingly said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” The rest of the story is yet to be written. How will we finish it?

© Bill Williams

September 7, 2006

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Family, Kingdom Living. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Rest of the Story

  1. Mag says:

    That’s deep. Whew. I think I need a sweatband.

    It’s not just that I’m judging, I’m hindering God being able to use that person if I know the shine of their image constantly. I’m making people nervous about failing around me. Peoplel learn to not trust grace, not try, and be afraid of failing and being “talked about” by me. This is the power of the blessing.

    As a note: if the person has dishonest habits, “unfair scales”, and I know someone considering a business interaction with them…that’s self defense within the body of Christ. I would share the risk.

    Interesting thoughts. Great scriptures to put on my notecards.

  2. ksreyes says:

    WOW! Yet another powerful post from one whom I am now believing is reading my mind: on a daily basis……..! Amen, brother bill, Amen.

    peace+
    kiersten

  3. Bill says:

    Mag:

    You make a very good point about looking out for one another. There are definitely when we just have to say something. I’m thinking that based on Matthew 18 our initial responsibility is to talk with the person’s whose scales are not set right. Proverbs 11:1 says, “The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.”
    Perhaps a fitting maxim would be: never say anything about a person that you ought to say to him or her.

    Your first observation is so true. How many times have we seen this? Too many, that’s for sure!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Blessings,
    -bill

  4. Bill says:

    Kiersten:

    It never ceases to amaze me how often things like this happen. God has a masterful way of orchestrating our lives, huh?

    When I sat down this evening to work on this post while watching the long-awaited NFL kickoff game, I thought I’d better post Part 3 of the series I should have finished days ago. But, I just wasn’t feeling it! Now I know why!!

    Blessings to you and yours,
    -bill

  5. Greg England says:

    Brace yourself, Bill, this will be long! First, just how old is Paul Harvey? Gotta be triple digits! He was a radio personality when I was just a very young puppy.
    Second, interesting to note the sins among which gossip is listed.
    Finally, there is a very good song written by Sawyer Brown called, “They Don’t Understand” Here are the lyrics:

    A mother riding on a city bus
    Kids are yelling kicking up a fuss
    Everybody’s staring not knowing what she’s going through
    Somebody said don’t you even care?
    Do you let ’em do that everywhere?
    She slowly turned around, looked up and stared
    She said Please forgive them
    But they’ve been up all night
    Their father struggled but he finally lost his fight
    He went to heaven
    In the middle of the night
    So please forgive my children

    (They don’t understand)
    Everybody’s busy with their own situation
    Everybody’s lost in their own little world
    Bottled up, hurry it up trying to make a dream come true
    (They don’t understand)
    Everybody’s living like there ain’t no tomorrow
    Maybe we should stop and take a little time
    Cause you never really know what your neighbor’s going through
    (They don’t understand)

    A man driving on the interstate
    Slowing down traffic making everybody late
    Everybody’s staring not knowing what he’s going through
    Somebody hollered from the passing lane
    Yelled out the window, hey ain’t got all day
    The old man looked around and caught his eye
    He said please forgive me
    You know it’s been a long life
    My wife has passed away and my kids don’t have the time
    I’ve been left all alone
    And its getting hard to drive
    So please forgive me children

    (They don’t understand)
    Everybody’s busy with their own situation
    Everybody’s lost in their own little world
    Bottled up, hurry it up trying to make a dream come true
    (They don’t understand)
    Everybody’s living like there ain’t no tomorrow
    Maybe we should stop and take a little time
    Cause you never really know what your neighbor’s going through
    (They don’t understand)

    A man hanging on a wooden cross
    Giving everything to save the lost
    Everybody’s staring not knowing what he’s going through
    Somebody said you don’t have a prayer
    If you were keen you’d come down from there
    The man just turned his head looked up and stared

    He said please forgive them
    For they have not seen the light
    They’ll come to know me when I come back to life
    Go to heaven, to make everything all right
    So please forgive your children

    (They don’t understand)
    Everybody’s busy with their own situation
    Everybody’s lost in their own little world
    Bottled up, hurry it up trying to make a dream come true
    (They don’t understand)
    Everybody’s living like there ain’t no tomorrow
    Maybe we should stop and take a little time
    Cause you never really know what your neighbor’s going through
    (They don’t understand)

    A mother riding on a city bus
    Kids are yelling kicking up a fuss
    Everybody’s staring not knowing what she’s going through

  6. Bill says:

    Excellent song selection, Greg! What an incredible way of communicating this message! There is great power in songs like this. Thank you for sharing it with us!! -bill

  7. Dee Andrews says:

    Wow, Bill –

    Brilliant minds run along the same paths – you and Patrick!! And here are my two comments I put on Patrick’s post this morning that I just got around to reading (it’s been an extremely busy week and today is my first good blog reading day). They are pertinent to your excellent post, as well:

    James tells us to consider it “pure joy” when we’re faced with trials of any kind because it tests our faith so that we might develop perseverance. He goes on to say that in that way we will become “mature and complete,” lacking in nothing.

    So I guess the lesson from that applied to your situation might be that they are just trying to help you out so that you can be a truly happy, joyful man who’s very mature and wise. In other words, they’re doing you a big favor!

    (That’s the optimistic outlook for you, but then, I don’t know that I’m an optimist! Cynic and realist more defines me. ha!)

    Here’s what you might do – hunt them down and ask them if you may talk with them “in Christian love.” Then lower the boom. I had a young minister’s wife come to my home once to ask me if she could speak to me “in Christian love.” She then proceeded to pronounce me a liar because she’d heard me tell someone on the phone months before in my home that I needed to sell something inexpensively because it was “in our way.”

    She looked around the room we were in, didn’t see the appliance I was discussing on the phone with the person, so assumed I was lying about it to make a sale. In other words, I was guilty until I could PROVE myself innocent satisfactorily to her.

    She actually said that much later after that day, even, and her husband confirmed that she operated on that basis. Assume the worst, I suppose you’d have to say. BTW – her father was the president of an extremely conservative Christian university at the time and her husband went on to teach there. Apparently she was that way with her father, too. (Wonder where she learned it and who from, hunh?!)

    Greg (Stoogelover) IS right. You’ve got high recommendations!

    P. S. That same preacher’s wife read me the riot act when I sent our five year old to First Baptist Church kindergarten (where he had a wonderful, devoted Episcopal teacher who had the kids memorize verses from Psalms) – and there was no public kindergarten at that time – while her own husband was attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary working on an advanced Divinity degree.

    Talk about a double standard. Or am I looking at that wrong about that?

  8. Dee Andrews says:

    Bill –

    There is a WHOLE lot more to my stories, but I’m not going to say any more. And I present them only as examples, not to cast dispersions upon anyone. You and your commenters are correct, though – her actions forever scarred me and led to some terrible consequences. These are people some of you would know, too.

    God help us all to always think the very best of people, to always presume innocence and to never cast blame. James said that, too. That when we ask, God gives us wisdom without finding fault. I LOVE that passage in James 1 because it was the one God led me to after those incidents and some much worse by other Christians much closer to me who told lies and more lies and tried to turn my own children against me while going through my horrible divorce.

    God help us all.

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