The White Glove Test

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! (Psalm 25:1-7 ESV).

Reading this psalm took me back over four decades ago. When I went to Texas A&M University, I was in the Corps of Cadets. Being a full time military preparatory program had its challenges. As if your first year in college weren’t enough, there were many others things that had to be done too. I learned quickly the benefits of a four corner tuck on my bed that was tight enough to bounce a coin when dropped on it; I learned the importance of rank and file while marching; I learned how challenging it was to run with a full pack and M1 rifle weighing in at about fifty pounds total; and, I learned how to shine my shoes and boots to a mirror image. One of the inspections we regularly faced was the “white glove test.” You’ve seen or heard of this infamous exercise. Someone inspects your room with a white cotton glove on rubbing it along every edge and corner to make sure everything was spotless and free of dirt or dust. I rarely passed that test!

There’s another white glove test that many people like to conduct. They enjoy rubbing a white glove over someone’s past, and then inspecting the dirt with relish. Remembering the sins of someone’s youth, their sordid past becomes a way of putting them and keeping them in their place. Let a woman be named Citizen of the Year, and people will still recall the night, years ago, when she was ticketed for drunk driving. Let a man be named CEO of a great company, and people will still whisper about how, years ago, he was expelled from school for rowdy behavior.

I have learned a very important lesson through the years. A friend is someone who knows you, but chooses not to remember the sins of your youth. A friend does not dredge up and recollect your sordid past. A friend forgets what you’ve done, but doesn’t forget you.

Isn’t that what we want from God — remember me, but do not remember my sins? And isn’t that precisely how God deals with us! “I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,” says God, “and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). Other people may remember the sins of your youth, but God forgets, forgives. God does not remember your sins. God remembers you. This New Year accept that grace and be that kind of friend to others.