Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
I know, I know. I despise that song too. I’m really not sure if there is any song more annoying to me…although I’m not willing to test that theory.
Here’s the thing: while the song is enough to make us want to bang our head against a wall, the truth is, it is easy for us to have the spirit it addresses. I’ve noticed it even in my own life, especially in my younger years. I could look at anyone’s situation and immediately know how I would handle it. I could look at marriages and have them fixed in no time, I could observe parenting styles and have their children whipped into shape all within minutes, I could critique…I mean…watch people as they interacted with society and have the wisdom to know how they could better fit the mold. Of course, I had yet to experience any of that personally, but I considered myself an expert at doing things better, actually not even doing things better, just knowing how to do things better.
Job’s friends were no different. In a time when Job was in deep suffering his friends came to pay him a visit. They started off doing great actually. Job 2:13 says that they sat with Job in complete silence for seven days and seven nights. They could say nothing about his suffering…until they could…and they did. The moment they decided to open their mouths their words dripped with judgment, criticism, and assumption. Instead of seeing the man experiencing the pain, they chose only to see how he should have done things better. There was no compassion, no mercy, no attempt at understanding…just self-righteous opinions that offered nothing but more salt in the wounds, if you will.
When we walk around believing that we have so much to offer others around us, we fail to see people. We are looking for situations to judge instead of looking for the souls to lift up. When we see a man on the street holding a sign, we believe we know what he could be doing better. When we see a mom in a grocery store with a screaming child, we believe we know what she is not doing enough of. When we hear of divorces, we believe we know what would have saved the marriage. Don’t even get me started on the mistakes drivers make. There are so many instances I could write, but the overlying theme in it all is that we’re missing people. We’re missing hearts that need mending, wounds that need binding, and tears that need wiping.
Growing up I heard my grandfather tell a story about eating out at a restaurant. In this specific outing, the waitress they received was incredibly rude. Their orders were messed up, any requests were met with sighs of inconvenience, and she did not hold back her annoyance at their very presence at her table. It was an unpleasant experience to say the least, however, my grandfather knew to see the person instead of the behavior. Upon leaving the restaurant he gave his waitress an undeserved, over-the-top tip, and as he walked out to his car, the waitress came running out after him. She was in tears and admitted that she knew she had been rude. She apologized and explained that she had been experiencing trouble at home; she was overwhelmed, worried, and was struggling to keep up. She was heartbroken that he had treated her with such kindness when she deserved anything but. He mended her heart with a prayer, bound her wounds with a hug, and after the tears stopped flowing, they went their separate ways.
In a time when my grandfather could have easily, and perhaps justifiably, been upset, judgmental and assuming, he chose to show grace. He chose to see the person instead of the actions. And isn’t that what Christ does for us? Doesn’t he choose to see us as broken people in need of love instead of giving us what we deserve? Perhaps we should be choosing to give that same grace to those we encounter every day. See the person, see the soul.
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better