“Who do you have trouble loving like Jesus loved? Is it the poor, the rich, the sick, children, sex addicts, drug addicts, child abusers?”
Up until a few weeks ago, I thought I was a person that had a decent understanding of loving people and not being judgmental. Over the past month or so I feel like I have been flooded with a whole new perspective on loving people. I don’t mean love in the sense of the people it’s easy to love but the people it’s hard to love. The topic has come up over and over. My pastor asked us this past week. “Who do you have trouble loving like Jesus loved? Is it the poor, the rich, the sick, children, sex addicts, drug addicts, child abusers?”
The Reality Of How Our Thoughts Effect Others
I think I really started understanding God’s view of people and why judging others is wrong one day while I was sitting in church waiting for a friend. Church was about to start and I was looking around for her, hoping she would come. She has the tendency to say she is going to do something and then bails out at the last minute, but I was hoping this time would be different. As I waited, I started thinking about how people might perceive her. She tends to wear revealing clothing and definitely doesn’t fit the church “mold.” I wanted the people around us to reach out to her and love here were she was, because the Lord and I both knew it would be a glorious thing if she came this far. I understood in that instance that the Lord would be pleased with her one step of faith no matter what she was wearing and, at that point in time, what she was wearing didn’t really matter. The Lord started to use this thought to paint for me a picture of what it looks like not to judge but rather really love people.
A Gentle Reminder
Just because my friend may not have dressed like a church-goer doesn’t mean that she wasn’t seeking God.
The Lord kind of tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of how I’ve sat in this same place many times before, disapproving of what someone else was wearing, or doing, or saying. The Lord showed me how quick I am to judge without even knowing a person’s situation. If the Lord gives me wisdom in an area, I am quick to think that everyone should have had the same thought and am quick to judge those who “aren’t as privileged” as I to know that this or that is so wrong. Being on the side of the judged, I understood that things weren’t as they appeared. Just because my friend may not have dressed like a church-goer doesn’t mean that she wasn’t seeking God. In fact, being at church would have been a huge step of faith. This helped me realized that I will never understand what people are going through, what they deal with day to day, what the Lord is teaching them, and God’s timing for perfecting certain issues their lives.
So when I ran across the following verse I was not surprised. The Lord knows I get confused easily and that I really appreciate when things are laid out clearly. What does God want from us? He tells us:
“With what shall I come before the Lord
& bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my first born for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
To Act Justly
To put this in even simpler terms, “do what is good, right, and fair.” Jesus loved the unlovable because he saw the bigger picture of life. He knew that the only reason that anyone had anything good or could do anything good was because God gave it to him. Privilege was not earned-it was given. Most people then, and still today, think they did something to earn it on their own. We hold fast to our money and resources because our self-centered hearts tell us it’s ours and we deserve it. And to go a step further, we believe that those who don’t have don’t deserve it. We believe they are somehow responsible for their situation without even knowing for sure. We ignore cries for help because we don’t want to be associated, we don’t want to have to give up our time, or because we just don’t care, because it doesn’t affect us.
To Love Mercy
The Lord has been so gracious to us, especially when we don’t deserve it. He has lavished on us not only things of this world but the key to the next, and not because we are worthy of it. He wants us to model this same generosity. The Lord wants us to not only stand up for the people but to love giving to them, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
To Walk Humbly
I think this part is the most important, because if we don’t remember where we have come from and what our source of love is, the other parts will serve to puff us up with pride, keeping us from being used by God to our full potential. The more we walk humbly with our God, the more we come to know him and become like him. The more we realize who we are and who God is, the more we stop thinking of ourselves and start truly loving others.
The true depth of Christ’s love in us will be shown in the people we have the hardest time loving.
Our natural reaction is to think, “that’s easier said than done,” but with a clearer understanding of God’s love and motivation, we will want to love and find joy in seeing people as God sees them. It’s not a lost battle, because the Lord is in us if we have received him by faith. He wants to work in us so we can be set free to love the way he does (patiently, kindly, quick to forgive, not easily angered, not proud or rude, not enviously, not for ourselves). And the true depth of Christ’s love in us will be shown in the people we have the hardest time loving.
When we see sin in someone’s life, we need not judge them. Rather, we need to seek the Lord in how to lovingly respond in order to encourage that person in the Lord and toward holiness. That may mean if we are in a relationship with them, we need to bring it up. It may mean minding our own business. It might mean that we just need to pray for them and show through our actions that Christ looks at the heart.