You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16
When I first read the Associated Press story last week, I was angry with the mother of Sol Factor, a man who lives in Beachwood, Ohio. No, I don’t know the 83-year-old lady, but I was upset anyway. You see, for the past 17 years, Sol has been trying to find the lady who gave birth to him in July of 1946.
Let me acquaint you with last week’s story. Rosa Pollak, Sol’s mother, survived the Nazi holocaust and gave birth to a son. Mother and child were separated at a United Nations-sponsored hospital for refugees in Munich. Rosa went to Israel, and Sol came to the United States where he was adopted in 1950 by an American couple. Forty years later, Sol began the search to find his birthmother, a task that required wading through unending Nazi archives. It took seventeen years to find her, but last week Sol received a letter from the Israeli counterpart of the Red Cross. The letter said:
"We regret to inform you that we located the above mentioned person, but she would not like to be contacted by the inquirer.”
Sol said he would respect the wishes of his mother. Sol was disappointed. I got mad. How, I wondered, could a mother not want to see her son? How could she hold out? How could she turn her back on her own flesh and blood?” Impossible! Incomprehensible! Inconceivable!
That was when I remembered Martin Luther’s explanation to the Old Testament commandment, which is the text for this devotion. He wrote that we should “put the best construction on everything.” Trying to follow the reformer’s suggestion, I tried to put the best construction on Rosa’s refusal. “Maybe,” I thought to myself, “the days of the concentration camp and its aftermath were too painful to resurrect.” “Maybe Rosa has the memory of a baby, and she doesn’t want to ruin it. Maybe Rosa’s pregnancy was a secret she had hidden from her family in Israel. Maybe some dark and un-confessed sin or tragedy had resulted in her son’s birth.”
There were a lot of ways I could put the best construction on Rosa. I had simply not chosen to do so. I expect others to give me the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard for me to do the same for others.
What a contrast we are to the Savior who, even though He knew the greatness of our sin, was still willing to die for us. What a contrast are our words when compared to those of the Redeemer who pleads our case before the Father in heaven. In light of what Jesus keeps saying about us, maybe it’s time to show our appreciation by speaking as His witnesses and putting the best construction on the works of all who are around us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, long ago You came to a world that didn’t want You. It loved to lie about You and the work You were doing to save us. For Your dedication that has saved me, I give thanks. For speaking on my behalf, I praise Your name. Now, may I be empowered to speak well of others and the best of You. In Your name, Amen.