“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
Let me start with a disclaimer that some contents of this article may go against popular world culture.
It is no surprise that our world is lacking in compassion to others. It is evident by the way people are treated and the attitudes that prevail in our culture. What I find more surprising is that this attitude has seeped into those who are called to model Christ on earth.
As Christians we certainly are not perfect, and we are being renewed in spirit and mind to the degree of our submission to God. It is no surprise that the culture of this world contrasts with what the bible teaches on how we are to treat others.
Many people can easily quote a bible verse that is supposed to idealize how we are to regard all others. It is most certainly easier said than done. “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Luke 6: 31 NKJV
The way we treat others is directly linked to how we see them, how we regard them, and what value we place on them.
Often our value of others differs from the value that Christ has of them and ourselves.
Before we can begin to see others as Christ does, we need to clearly define exactly how Christ sees all of humanity.
On different occasions I have often looked at certain individuals, those that I was not too fond of and wondered to myself how is it that God sees value in them that I do not. It astonishes me that he places so much value on you, me, and the rest of the 8.5 billion people alive on earth.
Even the worst among us has high value to him. It may surprise you that the very people that you may regard as your enemy is loved by God exactly as you are. Yes, that’s right, he has divine love for the criminals, terrorists, and others who menace our society and world. Simply stated, he loves the sinner, but hates the sin.
His unrelenting love for them is with the sole purpose of redemption. He loves them with the one goal of them recognizing his unfailing love, turning from their sins with repentance and experiencing a loving relationship with him, for the best life possible.
All of creation was designed with us in mind. Since we are the central theme of God’s creation it is of utmost important to explore both how he sees us and others, so that we can also value them in the same light.
Once we align our way of seeing others as Christ does, our treatment of them will likewise follow. Let’s explore a moment of honesty, shall we?
What He Sees vs What We See
How does God see your spouse, and family members? Acceptable, loveable, forgivable? Is that the way you see them?
The soldier from another country on a battlefield is equally loved by God as our troops. Does that make you feel a little uncomfortable?
How about the stranger at the grocery store? What about the person who cut you off in traffic? The beggar on the street corner? To be honest there are times when I see them as irritations or burdens. What about you?
Considering the most recent national mantra of ‘All Lives Matter’, I can say without an ounce of hesitation that to God, all lives truly do matter. It does not matter to him who they are, what they have done, or even what they believe. He created them all for a specific purpose in mind. Regardless of whether they fulfill their purpose his value of their life does not change.
To think that the one person, who has the right and could reject any one of us because of the sinful mess we have become, has chosen instead to love us unconditionally. He went out of his way to demonstrate this undeserving love towards us by dying for us, even knowing that we would still disappoint him greatly throughout our lives.
We tend to see people through the lens of their history and current circumstances. God see us through the eyes of future potential, as a finished product of the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Interesting enough God sees us as new creation, if we are born again even though we are being transformed daily from the old person. Imagine, God who knows how deeply flawed we are sees us as new creatures in Christ Jesus.
Can we see something other than the worse flaws of those we love and encounter? Imagine what a difference or impact we can have on others if we see them in a much better light. What a difference it would make to speak about a good characteristic in a person instead of what they are lacking. Everyone has value, and when we get them to see that they have value it can have a great impact.
Our Obligation of Loving Others
“But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12,13 NKJV
When I first became a Christian, I had some serious bad attitudes against others who also were Christians. Interesting enough God orchestrated my early lessons in loving others by placing me in situations where I would have to…you guessed it, love others!
One such person lived at the same teenage home that I lived at. Which means I knew a lot of details about his personality and how he was as a person when he was not toting a bible to a bible study or prayer meeting. To be clear I saw him as a major irritation, and I was not very loving towards him.
During an open discussion one afternoon at a bible study this topic of the family of God came up. More importantly the specific idea that your Christian brothers and sisters are your permanent family and not only will you experience them here on earth but also throughout all of eternity.
I looked over at him and thought, ‘I am going to need a lot of help on how to live with him forever!’ Apparently, God knew this as well, because it was brought to my attention that if this certain person was worthy enough for Jesus Christ to love, then I must see him as worthy of my love as well.
It did not happen overnight, but slowly my attitude changed because I realized that Jesus Christ also loves me with all my flaws and shortcomings. I don’t deserve his love, but he loves me still, so I have an obligation to love those that he loves.
As Christians we do not have the luxury of picking and choosing who in the family of God we will love.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NKJV
God truly does see humanity as a family that he wants for himself. He will not make us or force us to be a part of his family, but he will adopt anyone who comes to him willingly to be his child.
He does not ask us to come to him only after we have gotten ourselves cleaned up and living a sinless life. As with relationships among parents and children, the love for the child is not dictated by what the child does. You do not stop loving your five-year-old child just because he or she has a tantrum in the middle of Walmart!
It is fully understood that your child will make mistakes and even have behavior issues during the growing process. Your love for the child is not dictated by his or her behavior. You may dislike and need to correct the behavior, but the love remains. Your child’s identity and relationship to you does not change with their attitude or the things they do.
Likewise with our relationship to others, we must never forget that they are of high value to God, and especially those who he has adopted into his family. Seeing others with the same value as God takes a concerted effort. Only the Holy Spirit can help us to see others through his eyes.
Double Vision or Clear Vision?
“Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5 NKJV
I have always been awed at how Jesus wanted people to see others. Even though he spoke to thousands, he always had the individual foremost in his heart and mind. It should not be surprising that Jesus often called people out on their hypocrisy in dealing with others.
There is a lesson to be learned if we are to see others as he does. Before we can even begin to see we must understand that we do not have clear vision. One of the unique benefits of seeing others as he does, is that it allows us to come to a place of humility regarding our own faults and shortcomings.
Compassion for others was a character trait that guided his mission on earth. In our dealings with others, if we are to see them through God’s eyes, we will need a heart transplant from cold and uncaring, to loving and compassionate. We must acknowledge that we do not always see others with their best interest in mind.
It will take a measure of humility to understand that we are also in need of love and understanding, and that the people we deal with daily are no different. With the help of the Holy Spirit, you will find that your interactions with others will also cause you to change, with eyes that see, and a heart that feels.
A person’s spiritual thermometer can be assessed by how they view others. It will be impossible for you to see others with a judgmental attitude if you are committed to seeing them with the eyes of compassion.
While some may think that the homeless beggar on the street is worthless to the person who drives by in their fancy expensive cars on their way to a home that costs a fortune, in reality that beggar cost Jesus Christ every ounce of blood and unfathomable pain and torture on a cross outside of Jerusalem.
If our value and assessment of others is based solely on outward appearances, then we are equally as poor as any street beggar. To know that Jesus Christ died for the people we despise, should be an eyeopener in our dealings with others.
To best help others we must see our own spiritual need for help. In our effort to serve others we should always be seeking clear vision of our own lives, because then, and only then can we be effective at guiding others.
Relational Impact of God’s Love
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Matthew 15:13 NKJV
The above verse sums up the totality of God’s love for mankind, both collectively and for the individual. While most of us will not be called upon to give our lives for another person, the spirit and attitude of that sacrifice must remain foremost in our dealings with others and especially our close relationships.
Can you imagine what a difference you can make in the lives of others when they understand your level of genuine concern for them?
The trusting innocence of a child is a good example of the response to unconditional love. A child does not second guess the love of a mother or father, it is assumed. The child acts on that assumption while playing in the yard, near a busy street. The child is oblivious to the potential dangers however the watchful eyes of the parents is ever present.
The child is free to play uninhibited by fear because it knows that loving parents are nearby. If at any moment the child is in immediate danger the parents will not hesitate to act. Love compels them to do. So, it is with our relationship to God, and should be with others.
Often, we here the expression “I got your back”, and to most it means that “I am there for you when you need it most.” Seeing others with a sense of service towards them will compel you to behave differently.
Actions really do speak louder than words. We are more than confident of the love that Christ has for us because we have read about his actions that validated his love for us.
In our dealings with others when our consistent actions of service and self-sacrifice on behalf of others is foremost in our hearts and minds, they will have the same confidence that you truly “have their back.”
Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet and A Loving Deception. He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.
Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator, and a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart. Currently, he is a Road Test Examiner for the State of Massachusetts. Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.