Last summer when my six-year-old came down with the flu, I bought her some chewable ibuprofen to break her fever. It might as well have arsenic. She hated the stuff. She whined. She cried. She clamped her mouth shut. But since it was the only medicine we had in the house, I had to get her to take it.
I couldn’t believe all the drama over a couple of chewable tablets. It was grape flavor, for goodness’ sake. How bad could it possibly be?
A couple of weeks later I found out. When the flu took me down, I discovered we had run out of grown-up medicine. No problem, I thought. I’ll just dose up on the kid stuff. It would be like a trip to the candy store.
Or like eating baking powder. Or licking a garbage can. It really was as bad as she’d said it was, so I did what any mature adult would do. I whined. I cried. I clamped my mouth shut. But eventually I just had to suck it up and take the medicine I was all too willing to dish out.
Getting a dose of your own medicine is never a pleasant thing, not when you’re dealing with disgusting children’s pain relievers or when it comes to just plain, old everyday life.
Have you ever noticed how harsh we can be when we’re prescribing what we think is best for someone else, and yet we use a different measure when it comes to ourselves?
We look at people struggling in their marriages or trapped in a financial mess and say, “Serves them right. If you ask me, they should just . . .” And then we fill in the blank with our flawless advice. We love to play armchair quarterback with other people’s lives.
Of course if we found ourselves in the same situation, the solution wouldn’t look so simple. We’re quick to offer tough love to others, but when we blow it or end up in a jam, we expect the rest of the world to cut us some slack.
Maybe that’s why Jesus said to treat other people the way we would want to be treated. Maybe that’s why he warned us about judging others. Maybe God knows our tendency to dole out pills we’d never want to take ourselves.
So the next time you’re tempted to hold others to a higher standard, the next time you think you would do a better job of running of someone else’s life, take it from me. Be careful what medicine what you prescribe to others because you may end up having to take it yourself. Just because the bottle says “grape” doesn’t mean it’s an easy pill to swallow.