Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 3 of “Compelled – Living the Value of Visible Grace” (LISTEN HERE).
When in doubt, apply forgiveness.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
There is a phenomenon we have all probably experienced. When you buy a red car, you perceive that now everyone is driving a red car (when the number of red cars hasn’t actually increased, you just notice them). If you are diagnosed with diabetes, suddenly you begin to meet many more people with diabetes. This phenomenon called “frequency illusion” was coined in 2005 by Arnold Zwicky, a professor of linguistics at Stanford University and Ohio State University. Arnold Zwicky considered this illusion a process involving two cognitive biases: selective attention bias (noticing things that are important to us and disregarding the rest) followed by confirmation bias (looking for things that support our hypotheses while disregarding potential counter-evidence). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency_illusion)
Can “frequency illusion” happen in the church? In a negative way?
Frequency illusion happens when we “notice things that are important to us and disregard the rest.” Then we “look for things that support our hypotheses and disregard potential counter-evidence.”
Do you find it easy to practice “frequency illusion” with sin or offense…in other people?
You see it ALL the time, right?
Someone gives feedback on what you do. You feel it is overly critical. Now every comment that person shares you label as “critical.” You even ask other people and share what happened and they are prone to quip, “Yeah, that person is being overly critical.” Confirmed! That person is a critical person and you don’t have to be around them any more…relationship over.
Someone doesn’t say “Hi” on a Sunday morning. They walk right past you. It happens a second week. “How rude.” You ask someone else, “Yep, that person is being rude.” Confirmed! That person is rude and even if they say “Hi” the next week, the perception is engrained. Done. Not going to hang out with rude people.
Someone is in charge of an event. They give you feedback on your effort that brings your work in line with the vision and objective of the event. You feel they were micromanaging. It happens again. You ask someone else. Yep, that person is a micromanager. Done. Forget it. Not working with that person.
Do you see what happens when we CHOOSE to focus on the negative and readily find the faults in someone else? You WILL see it all over! Why? Because YOU are choosing to focus on it and YOU are seeking things to confirm your bias.
This will destroy the culture of a church.
Let me offer a different “frequency bias” to focus on, that doesn’t have to just be an illusion, but a permeating reality in our relationships and churches.
Apply grace. Apply forgiveness.
Everyone has faults. EVERYONE! You can choose to fixate on those or you can forgive where forgiveness is needed and focus on a person’s strengths over their weaknesses.
Be kind. Kindness offers to help, rather than tear down. Kindness does good instead of perpetuating hurt.
Be compassionate. You don’t know the other person’s story. Maybe their mind was very distracted and they just had a big thing happen before church. They weren’t dissing you. They needed you! Maybe they weren’t micromanaging the project, but just juggling all the components to make sure the outcome was the excellence everyone wanted. Learn from them, don’t run from them.
Forgive. We’ve established there is no one in the church that does not sin. We all do. So, we will all need forgiveness from each other. As you have been freely given forgiveness, apply it to others. Lovingly work through the conflict and hurt, but always have the goal to restore and strengthen relationships rather than let Satan tear them apart.
Bottom line…show them grace.
Let grace be the “frequency bias” we carry that leads us to be kind, compassionate, AND forgiving.
Apply: What situations would kindness, compassion, or forgiveness help to navigate in your life today?
Prayer: Father, as you have applied forgiveness to me, help me to show the same grace and freely forgive others around me. AMEN.