Yesterday we were sharing about the need to get a higher perspective on life. On our need to see things from God’s perspective, especially those things in our personal circumstances, as well as world events, that can trouble us. Today as I was walking our dog, I felt that the Lord was saying that we need this higher perspective – His perspective – on the people around us too. A higher perspective, both of those in the family of God, and others (our friends, neighbours, family and work colleagues,) who are not yet in the Kingdom.
It is just so often our default setting to see what is wrong with someone, to see their faults, weaknesses and mistakes and how they need to change. Much easier to see those things, than the ‘gold’ that is often buried a little deeper inside. If we are to fulfill Jesus’ command to ‘love each another as I have loved you.’ John 15:12, we are most certainly going to need to ‘see’ each other in the way that Jesus sees us. Likewise in order to follow Paul’s teaching on our relationships, mentioned in blog 291, from Colossians 3:12-14, we are going to need the indwelling Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the treasure that is in each one of us, because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
I love that Jesus was so wise. His teaching covers so many of our human weaknesses. Consider Matthew 7:1-5 about not judging others. This passage contains the famous exhortation to deal with the plank in our own eye before taking the speck out of our brother’s eye. It does not say we shouldn’t help our brother with his speck, but it does in effect say ‘sort yourself out first!’ Well it’s true isn’t it? That very often what we notice about each other, what we observe as another’s faults and failings, has an echo in our own lives that we can’t fully see.
Sometimes it’s not that we have exactly same issue, but that when I am irritated or upset by someone else, it highlights something in me that the Lord is seeking to refine. I first discovered this principle as a youngish Christian, when the Lord encouraged me to thank Him for someone I was finding difficult. He said in effect that I could indeed be thankful for that person because, through them, He was going to do a work of grace in my life that wouldn’t happen if they weren’t there. It’s the ‘grit in the oyster’ principal that produces the beautiful pearl.
Thanksgiving in such a situation frees up the Holy Spirit to pinpoint that area in me that He is wanting to refine. Thanksgiving also, as we said yesterday, lifts our gaze to the cross, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us again with His wisdom and insight and redemptive love, as we walk alongside our brothers and our sisters. And so in these challenging situations, and indeed in all our relationships, having the Lord’s perspective is vital if we are to truly love one another, and want the best for each other.
Another song comes to mind today. The wonderful lyrics in Geoff Bullock’s song ‘Lord I come to you’, remind me that when I wait on the Lord, when I let His love surround me, I can ‘soar with Him’ like the eagle, (Isaiah 40:28-31), and see things as He does. He will also ‘unveil my eyes,’ giving me a better perspective on my own ‘stuff’ as I sing; ‘Lord I come to you. Let my heart be changed, renewed, flowing from the grace that I found in you. And Lord I’ve come to know, the weaknesses I see in me, will be stripped away by the power of your love.’
The truth is that as I let the Lord’s unconditional love and grace change me, I can then be filled with that same love and grace towards others. That is transformational love. It is powerful, and it is, I think, the love that Paul wrote of when he spoke of us as the body of Christ, ‘from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.’ Ephesians 4:12 NASB. And it all starts, I believe, with turning in our hearts to thank the Lord for each other daily.
Jesus told us that ‘the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.’ Matthew 6:22. In the context of our relationships, what I ‘see’ in someone will become what I focus on and what fills my vision of that person. Learning to thank God for that person, ‘warts and all’, opens my eyes to see the gems and the good things. It takes my gaze off of any weaknesses and failings, and it allows me to celebrate, not just who God has made them to be, but also who God intends them to become.