Nov 16 2021

The Teacher

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An older man met a young man, and the young man asks, “Do you remember me?”

And the old man says “no.” Then the young man tells him he was his student, And the teacher asks:

“What do you do, what do you do in life?”

The young man answers:

“Well, I became a teacher.”

“Ah, how good, like me?” asks the old man.

“Well, yes. In fact, I became a teacher because you inspired me to be like you.”

The old man, curious, asks the young man at what point he decided to become a teacher. And the young man tells him the following story:

“One day, a friend of mine, also a student, came in with a nice new watch, and I decided I wanted it.

He set it down on his desk so he could admire it, and when he got up for a moment, he left it there. I took it.

Shortly after, my friend noticed his watch was missing and immediately complained to our teacher, who was you.

Then you addressed the class saying, ‘This student’s watch was stolen during classes today. Whoever stole it, please return it.’

I didn’t give it back because I didn’t want to.

You closed the door and told us all to stand up and form a circle.

You were going to have us empty our pockets, one by one until the watch was found.

However, you told us to close our eyes because you would only look for his watch if we all had our eyes closed.

We did as we were instructed.

You went from person to person, asking them to reach into their pockets and hold the contents out in front of them; when you got to me, I held out the contents of my pockets, and you found the watch and took it. You kept going around the circle, each person holding out their pockets’ contents, and when you were done, you said, ‘open your eyes. We have the watch.’

You didn’t tell on me, and you never mentioned the episode. You never said who stole the watch either. That day you saved my dignity forever. It was the most shameful day of my life.

But this is also the day I decided not to become a thief; you never said anything, nor did you even scold me or take me aside to give me a moral lesson.

I received your message clearly.

Thanks to you, I understood what a real educator needs to do.

Do you remember this episode?

The old man answered, ‘Yes, I remember the situation with the stolen watch, where I had everyone empty their pockets. I didn’t remember you because I kept my head down and never saw anyone’s face while I was doing it. I only looked up later, after everyone had emptied their pockets and after I had been all the way around the circle. I never knew who it was who had taken the watch.

This is the essence of teaching: If to correct you must humiliate; you don’t know how to teach.” (story from Steven Jacobs)

The story reminds me a lot of God. He is just and stands for what is right. He also is filled with grace for you and me. His goal isn’t to shame us, but He does want to correct us. He wants us to become the best people we can be and have good relationships with each other and a good relationship with Him.

When you and I forgive, it can be pretty hard to forget. Sometimes a part of us holds onto the hurt, the injustice. Even though we convince ourselves that we have forgiven, there can still be a part of us holding on and remembering.

When God forgives, He forgets as well. It’s as if we all go back to having a clean slate. It’s amazing!

God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Know that if you go to God and ask forgiveness, you get just that: forgiveness.

May we be like that old teacher…and may we be like God. Kind, forgiving, working for justice, not for shame, forgiving and forgetting the wrong.

We may not be quite there yet, but the good news is that God is.

In His grip,