Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I See People

                How we see people will determine how loving we are towards them. This statement may seem a little weird to you at first. But I am beginning to see that how I see people affects the way I treat them, affects the way I talk about them, affects the way I minister to them, and affects the way I relate to them. Our God
is a God who loves relationships. We know that God desires personal, intimate relationships with His people (all His people). He desired this type of relationship so much that He sent Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins. He did this so that we could have a relationship with Him. He did this because what He sees in us is greater than anything we could ever see in ourselves.             A few weeks ago the Lord spoke to my heart about the way I look at people. The way that I see people affects the way I will treat them. Someone who has hurt me, I tend to see all the negative about them and in my heart there is no desire for forgiveness. Someone who has loved me, and been kind to me, I see them as great people and I seek out a closer friendship with them.  What the Lord showed me spoke to my heart so much, that I posted it on Facebook. This is what the Lord spoke to me that day:
                “Have you ever been around a negative person? All they do is say the negative, rarely is there anything positive that comes off their lips. I am not talking about the "power of positive thinking" or this whole "faith" movement of name it, claim it, blab it, grab it. But I think we forget that our God is a positive thinking God. He tells us in Jeremiah that His thoughts towards us are positive ones, not negative ones. "For I know the thoughts I think toward you, say the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) In spite of all the bad things I do, say or think, in spite of all my faults and failures, the Lord does not look at me and see the bad. He only sees the good in me. He only sees Jesus Christ. He only sees that I am His, that I am sanctified, justified and will be glorified in His presence. How different would our relationships with others be if we started to look at people the way God sees them? How would our relationships look then? When someone hurt us, or wrongs us, or treats us unfairly- instead of looking at them and the situation in a negative light, we instead chose to see the positive. They are sinners in need of a Savior, just like we are. What if we looked at people the way God looks at us? What if we thought about people the way God thinks about us? How would your relationships with your family, your husband, your co-workers, your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord look then? I am an optimist; there is no doubt about that. I believe that our God is also an optimist. He has to be. The world is going to hell in a hand basket, yet He looks on all His creation, every man woman and child and says, "I know the thoughts I think toward you....thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." What if we started doing the same?”
                Lately these words have been coming back to my mind. When I look at someone and see only their faults, I am choosing to see them my way instead of God’s way. In the book of Acts Paul gives a farewell speech to the elders at Ephesus. (Acts 20) Paul’s love for them was evident in the words he spoke to them. He did not point out all that they were doing wrong. But instead, encouraged them and loved them right where they were. So many times today I hear Christians tearing down other Christians. I see men and women in leadership positions choosing to see the faults of others, but not willing to admit their own. I think we have become a negative thinking, fault finding body instead of a loving, forgiving body. We see the faults, but we are unwilling to see the fruit.
                Paul, in his address to the elders at Ephesus tells them that he “served the Lord with all humility.” (Acts 20:19 NKJV) In the King James Version, it is written (Paul) served the Lord with all humility of mind. “Humility of mind means truly esteeming others better than oneself. Humility of mind means not finding fault with a brother or sister, but finding fruit- approving those things that are excellent within them.” (Jon Courson, Application Commentary New Testament Acts 20:19) How many of us can honestly say that we seek to see others better than we see ourselves?
                My point is that so many of us choose to see the negative in others, and yet we are unwilling to see it in ourselves. We point out the faults of others, but are not willing to humbly admit our own. Paul loved people. He loved them in spite of all their faults and failings. He looked past the wrongs and loved them the right way- God’s way. How different would our relationships and fellowship with one another be if we began to see people the way God sees them? What if we began to love people for who they are in Christ, instead of pointing out all the things they are doing wrong? What if we began to walk in humility of mind towards one another, like Jesus walked towards us?
                Being around negativity breeds division, hurt, unforgiveness and eventually- bitterness. Our hearts become hardened to the soft, sweet love of the Holy Spirit. We start to look at people with our fleshly eyes, instead of seeing them with the eyes of Christ. God looks at us and sees hope and a future with Him. He did not come to this earth and point out all our faults, failures and sins. Not once do we read Jesus listing off to the sinner standing before Him all the bad things he/she was doing. All He ever said was “your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.” Jesus came so that we could have a future and a hope with our God and Father who loved us in spite of all our sins. What if we began to love like that? What if we stopped focusing in on the negative and started to just look for the fruit? What if we chose to see only the grace of God instead of the judgment of God?
                I have been the victim of someone seeing the negative and not willing to see the fruit of grace that the Lord was bestowing upon the situation I was in. It hurts when someone chooses only to see the negative and will not even consider the fruit that is coming out of the situation. It hurts, especially when they are supposed to be the ones loving you- like Christ loves you. God is not a negative God. He chooses to see the good, even when there is no good in us. He chooses to look on us and see the positive, encouraging us to keep striving, to keep going and to not give up. He chooses to look past our faults through Jesus Christ. Why can’t we, as His children, do the same?

                If we say we love God, then we must emulate and imitate that love. If all we can see in someone is the bad, then perhaps we need to get our eyes checked by His Word so that we can start to see His people the way that He sees them. We may not agree with them, we may not even like them, but we are called to love them- in the good, the bad and yes, even when they are ugly. How much different would our love for one another look if we just chose to see the fruit instead of the faults?