Not exactly the advice you would expect to hear in today’s performance-driven society, but that was the advice a mentor told me after I had shared a story in which I had justified my judgemental behavior towards another brother in Christ. Since his statement was counter-culture to everything we are taught, I asked for clarification.
My mentor explained that it sounded to him that I had decided that I was not responsible for loving this brother until he met my expectations of what he should be as a father, husband, and a man. He reminded me that Christ loves us for who we are, faults and all. We are made in the image of God but are all broken, imperfect people. My mentor then gently but painfully reminded me of many of my own shortcomings and of those who love me in spite of those failures. If God loves us and gives us grace where we are, how can we withhold our love and compassion for others until they “measures up” to our standards?
This is a difficult thing to do. It is easy to love someone that is like us. We can love those that we easily relate to or those who we admire. But we should do everything as unto the Lord and avoid putting our own expectations onto others. If we love, serve, and work unto the Lord rather than men (Colossians 3:23), then others’ shortcomings and differences will no longer be a source of frustration or disappointment to us. If we love in humility and recognize that Christ loves us in our own imperfection, we will find it easier to show grace and love to others.
The interesting thing about this Christian walk is that the more we focus our gaze on Christ, the more we begin to see others as He sees them. Lord, may my eyes be on you. May my standards be replaced by your compassion, and may my heart love others as you have loved me.
Scott Weeks, Administrative Pastor