Monday, March 7, 2011

The long-term cost of a bad decision


I hate to think that I'm the kind of person that holds a grudge.  I like to think of myself as humble enough to acknowledge my own failings and compassionate enough to forgive others of their failings but I'm starting to wonder about that.  Today, I drove past the the home of an old friend and all I could think about was how disappointed I still am in something he did many years ago.  It's not something he did to me  . . . it's just something he did that spoke so clearly to his character.  He used a blowtorch to create burn marks on a dead tree in his yard in order to file an insurance claim for lightning damage.

OK, I'll admit that this isn't murder but it is insurance fraud.  Oddly enough, he's a manager in another area of the insurance industry.  He's also a deacon in a local church and a Sunday School teacher.  I didn't personally witness the torching but a good friend of mine and neighbor of his did witness it and then inquired about what he was doing.  He readily admitted what he was doing and why and showed no remorse or regret.  I wish I could think of him any other way but although this incident occurred many years ago, it's still the first thing I think of any time that I see him.  We are no longer is the same church and we don't run in the same circles so I don't see him all that often. Because we have kids about the same age, I occasionally see him at a wedding or other community event.  I'm cordial toward him but nothing more.

I know this guy to have done some very good things like working with prison and jail ministries.  But even in that scenario, this incident makes him seem like a hypocrite.  Had he been busted for the insurance fraud, he, too may have been on the receiving end of prison ministry.  I sometimes wonder if I should sit down with him and lay my cards on the table?  I wonder how he might respond?  I wonder how I might respond if someone respectfully confronted me with a past transgression that was still gnawing at them? I wonder if it's that I somehow want to play the role of the Holy Spirit in his life, a role that is not mine to play? 

The truth is that all of us make bad decisions in our lives and sometimes there are long-term consequences for those decisions.  I suppose that's one of the reasons that public confession is good for us.  For all I know, this guy recognized the error of his way many years ago, asked God's forgiveness and made it right with his insurance company.  I'm the one carrying a burden that he may long ago have laid down. I think it's time that I  trusted him with the Holy Spirit and quit judging him for this incident.

Are there burdens like this that you need to lay down, too?

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