I was caught cheating off of a kid named Juan on a Spanish quiz in the 10th grade. I’ll never forget it. On the first day of class, a quiz was given to see how much work the teacher was going to have to do in order to get us up to speed. With me, it was going to be a lot.
I didn’t know any Spanish. None. Zilch. Nada. The quiz was multiple choice. The questions were in English. The answers were in Spanish. I did a superb job reading the questions. I just couldn’t understand the answers. Sitting beside me was a new student from Mexico that up until that moment I had never met. Bingo! Since this quiz didn’t actually count I just copied every one of his answers. No big deal.
At least not until we got back our ‘grades.’ A 37. Out of 100. That is a little different than what I expected. The teacher looked at me with a ‘bless your heart’ look while laughing uncontrollably. He said, “J.R., you didn’t understand the answers because they were in Spanish. But Juan, he didn’t know the questions because he doesn’t know any English.”
I bet you know what that’s like. Being caught I mean. Maybe it was small. Maybe it wasn’t.
Small: Maybe you got caught cheating on Spanish test and your teacher thought the circumstances were so hilarious that you didn’t get in trouble.
Not so small: Maybe you got pregnant as a teenager and the very people who should have walked with you in life chose to walk out of your life. Maybe you did something that hurt your spouse and are now reminded of that fact every time an argument ensues. Maybe you are in recovery but someone you love can’t let go of the past.
I could go on and on. Here’s my question. How do you want people to respond to you when you are the one that is caught? How should you respond to others? Even more importantly, how does God respond? We live in a culture that seems to be obsessed with catching people doing wrong. Some people even live for that moment when they can finally catch you in the act and hold it over your head for as long as it’s convenient. It’s not supposed to be like that. There is a better way!
A man in the Bible named Paul wrote about this very thing...
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2
Did you catch that? Paul redefines what it means to be caught! His definition of ‘caught’ is not to point the finger. His definition is to carry the weight.
Imagine that! Since we have all been caught at some point in our lives wouldn’t it have been better if the motivation of the person was to carry rather than condemn? We can’t control other people but we can change the paradigm ourselves. As for me and my house, I will make it my ambition to CATCH (carry) people rather than CATCH (condemn) people! Let’s run toward people in their darkest hour rather than running away.
Let’s stop giving people grief and start giving people grace. Let’s treat others the way that Jesus treated us. Jesus treated us with scandalous grace that we did not deserve. That is what we are capable and called to do for others. That’s the way it should be. If grace doesn’t seem too good to be true, then we aren’t understanding it correctly.
I can’t change the entire world but I can change mine. I want us to be different. Let’s be known for restoration, not condemnation. Let’s catch people when they fall instead of kicking them when they are down. Let’s stop catching people and start catching them.