Recent discussion with a client:
Client- Yes, I have a felony charge, but it wasn't my fault. The woman totally freaked out and called the cops when I was only playing! (after much prodding on my part, s/he explained...) I was in the back seat of a car with my buddies, and we went thru a drive-thru. Oh, I had a mask on and a gun and I aimed the gun at the lady...
Me- (after seeing how he genuinely believed I would think he was a victim) - Did you take any money?
Client- Well, yea, but I didn't ask for it... she just gave it to me so I took it.
I don't know what the client's intent was in this situation. Perhaps his/her brain damage inhibits rationalization, or s/he is simply being manipulative. A guideline of mine for years has been to look for a person's intent, including my own. Did I/he/she intend to cause pain/fear/strife? My reaction will be determined accordingly. Many times, we cannot identify one's intent, especially with people who are unfamiliar to you. (Otherwise, personality and character can be indicators.)
During my recent blogging hiatus, I had a painful but much needed revelation about my life, specifically, my character. Reflecting on life-long patterns and decisions left me filled with shame and regret. How could I have justified doing (sin) for so many years?? (I know how- I blamed others instead of taking responsibility. I played the role of a victim).
Thankfully, God's mercies are new every morning, and if we repent, he is faithful to forgive us (Proverbs. 28:13). I cried out to him for days, confessing and admitting I cannot continue in this area without Him taking charge. As a result, I have made Philippians 1:19 my compass in all that I do. If a decision/action does not bring me closer to Jesus, I am not going to do it, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem.
See, the small stuff makes up much of our character; day-to-day decisions demonstrate what's in our heart, what we believe and value. The small stuff reveals who we are.
As for my client, the judge's decision will be based on whether s/he has previous charges. What kinds of decisions did s/he make in the past? As Abraham Lincoln used to say, "Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."
Challenge for Today- Think about how your friends would describe your character. What things do you value? What are your moral absolutes (things you will not compromise)? Compare who you are with who you want to be and develop a guideline for making decisions. Remember, your decisions with small stuff adds up. Perhaps we do need to 'sweat the small stuff"!