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Are You Mean?  

“Are you mean?”


It’s not a question I was expecting from Emma. At five, she is what my wife calls the ultimate “snuggle buddy.” And we’d done plenty of that the night before as Emma fell asleep on my shoulder. 


So, how should I answer her?  Since children see right through us, I figured I’d keep it simple, straightforward—and brutally honest. Like kids. 


“Sometimes, we’re all mean,” I offered. “Sometimes you get angry and say things that are not nice. Sometimes I say or do something not nice. That’s why we have to say ‘I’m sorry.’ And that’s why we have to have Jesus living with us. When we have Jesus, we do less mean things.” 


She then asked, “Do robbers say I’m sorry?”


“Some probably do, and some don’t,” I replied, wondering where is the class that teaches the answers to questions like these.  


She nodded, and mercifully let the subject go. But Emma’s question haunted me all week: Am I mean? 


When the city parking official on the phone showed little concern for my dollar that was stolen by a malfunctioning machine, I was less than cordial. Then I heard Emma asking, “Are you mean?” I ended up calling the official back to apologize. 


For the believer, the question is not just Are you mean? The ultimate issue is—Are you becoming less mean?


Is there measurable, forward progress in your character? Is the direction of your life toward less meanness?


There’s no use trying to PhotoShop your character. It is what it is. And the people who really know you—really know. 


So—are you mean? Are you becoming less mean? Just wonderin’. 



Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

- 1 Thessalonians 5:23




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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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