Breaking Bruised Reeds


Isaiah, prophesying of Jesus, wrote these words:

“He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. 

A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax He will not quench…”

Think of Jesus’ interactions with the hurting and the broken, with those people viewed as “sinners” by the “righteous religious” folk of His day (even though we are ALL sinners, and our righteousness is just a filthy rag in the eyes of God…but that’s another blog entirely).  Was he harsh?  Did He shout?  Did he condemn?

The answer is no.  He IS love.  He is the epitome of kind.  He is full of compassion for them.

Psalm 145:8-9 says “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.  The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.”

Now, on the flip side, Jesus had some harsh words, but they were reserved for the self-righteous religious, the Pharisees, for those who looked down their noses at anyone and everyone they viewed as less holy than themselves, at anyone who was “a sinner.”

Jesus didn’t take kindly to their reactions with the weak and hurting, the sick and broken, of their expectations of perfection which they (falsely) thought they had attained.  He didn’t care for it at all, and He bluntly told them so:  “Woe to you also, lawyers!  For you load men with burdens too hard to bear and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers!” (Luke 11:46)

I ask this because the Lord recently brought them to my attention through my interactions with others.  When I’ve encountered a “bruised reed”, a person who is hurting and broken, have I handled them gently, kindly, honestly, yet lovingly?  The truth is that I can find myself acting more like a Pharisee in these situations, rather than acting like Jesus.  And that’s a problem.

Think over today and how you spoke to your spouse, your kids, your co-workers, anyone you had contact with.  Would you say your words were gracious, full of compassion?  Were you slow to anger and great in mercy, or did you fly off the handle at the slightest infraction of your “law”?  Did you expect more of someone else than you expect of yourself?  Do you ask for grace, yet react in a very un-gracious way?

I don’t write these things to condemn.  I write them because God has been dealing with me on this very point. It’s not that we shouldn’t speak the truth, but the truth must be spoken in love.

Proverbs 15:1 says “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I’ve found that we like to apply that wisdom to the words of others, but not abide by it ourselves.   When I look at that picture above, of the piece of wheat that is barely hanging on, it hits me that it requires extreme gentleness not to break it off.  A strong breeze would do the trick.

In the same way, it wouldn’t take much for a harsh word or a quick temper to break the “bruised reeds” I’ve encounter in my life.  I shudder to thank of the ones I’ve knocked over in my foolishness.

But praise God, the same mercy that was poured out on the cross for my sins is more than enough to cover these things as well! God is bringing them to mind not to condemn, not to shame, for that’s not loving at all.  No, He’s bringing them to mind to correct and to re-shape me in His image.  His grace is sufficient for our every weakness, and I’m pretty sure that includes this area as well as any other.

Lord, thank you for your grace and your compassion on me, a sinner who has done nothing to deserve it.  Forgive me for when I have not responded to others as You would.  As I have received grace from You, please allow me to give it to those who cross my path each day.  Help me see them with Your eyes, not mine.  May my Words be filled of the kindess of my Savior.  

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