You probably heard the story by now. Carson King, a 24-year old man from Iowa, holds up a sign asking for beer money at a college football game to replenish his dwindling Busch Lite supply. Donations come pouring in like a frat house kegger. Then matching donations, along with a few cases of Busch Lite. King decides to donate everything to a local children’s hospital. The donations exceed a million dollars. Then a reporter for the Des Moines Register does some internet trawling and dredges up some less than politically correct sludge dating back to when Mr. King was 16 years old. Outrage ensues. Then people dig and find similar dirt on the reporter. And, of course, more outrage.
We have become a society of dirt diggers, and I don’t mean landscapers. We tear down rather than build up. We take what is beautiful and look for ways to tarnish it. The Carson King story was funny and inspiring. Some anonymous Joe holds up a sign for beer money, and a children’s hospital gets a million bucks to help sick kids. All is bright and beautiful until some poor excuse for a “journalist” decides to dig into King’s internet past. Thank goodness he didn’t find King’s high school yearbook! Imagine what our news media would do to someone like St. Augustine. This just in – Bishop of Hippo fathered child out of wedlock with concubine. Second woman comes forward with allegations. Ties to Manichaen cult uncovered in Facebook posts. Details at eleven. Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Bonhoeffer, and Mother Theresa would fare no better in today’s court of public opinion. Nor would any of us, the moment we entered the spotlight.
It’s an old trick, to justify your existence at the expense of others. “I thank God I’m not like other men,” prayed the Pharisee, not realizing that he is just like other men, including that despised tax agent in the back row of the synagogue who couldn’t lift his eyes of the tops of his shoes. The conversation changes when we recognize that the speck in our brother’s eye and the beam in our own eye are made of the same wood. The muck we rake on others is the same muck down at the bottom of our lives. Do you really want the yearbooks of your life thrown open for everyone to see? I don’t. I’m glad there was no Twitter and Facebook when I was sixteen and stupid.
Hate delights to dig up dirt. How much do you have to hate yourself and the rest of humanity to dig up dirt on a guy with a beer sign who sent a million bucks to a children’s hospital? Was he that jealous for attention? Was he that insecure in his job? What possible “journalistic” relevance did a tweet from a 16-year old add to this story? Mr. King wasn’t running for public office. He wasn’t nominated for the supreme court. He wasn’t on a social justice soapbox. He just made a sign for laughs and the world laughed along with him until some “reporter” wanted to suck the joy out of the story. I’m sure the reporter would have appreciated not having his Twitter indiscretions uncovered for public consumption. “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” That rule is golden.
“Love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8). God’s love covered a world of sin with Jesus’ innocent, atoning Blood. It’s time we do the same for each other, and for everyone, especially for those with whom we disagree or those we consider our enemies, persecutors, slanderers, as well as our ex-wives and -husbands. It’s good to recall your own sins. Forgiveness doesn’t come with amnesia. You come to a deeper appreciation for how great a sinner you are and how great a Savior Jesus is. But the sins of others need to be covered up, put out of sight, as far as the east is from the west.
Love covers up the sins of others. Love covers a multitude of sin. Love doesn’t dig around to uncover sins past and forgotten. And love covers sins that have been uncovered, whether intentionally or unintentionally. The reporter could have just left it there, buried in the past. The past has been reconciled and buried in the good, dark death of Jesus. Just leave it there.