Fortunately, for me, God is always placing friends into my life to give me a clear message (and to keep my humility in check). The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine and she reminded me of a very important lesson that I needed to hear. I must accept people where they are in life. In fact, I am called to do it. Never once in the bible does it talk about Jesus holding people to the same level as himself. In fact, the bible tells us that Jesus humbled himself so He could empathize with people. When people didn’t follow him, he was not upset or angered, he allowed them to journey on their own (I am sure praying that someday they would knock on His door). On the other hand, when people who were deemed “unworthy” came to Him, He never hesitated to take them as they were – sinners, looking for a new path to journey upon.
Matthew 9:9-13 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Have you ever met someone who could relate to everyone? I had the privilege of being raised by a man who could do this. So for me to be struggling with this attribute seems odd. My father had a knack for accepting people no matter who they were or what they had done. He saw through the gruff exterior of friends and family, and just loved them as God loves them. His happy-go-lucky attitude was not fake. Deep down my father knew that everyone deserves respect. He gave them this respect and so much more. The great thing about having this attribute is you can allow yourself to see that no one is better than anyone else. We are all sinners. We are all on a journey to heaven. We are all just trying our best to get through each day in life. Dad’s amazing ability to befriend people was awe-inspiring to me.
So when my friend pointed out to me that I was not being accepting of others, I didn’t get angry. I knew she was correct in her assessment. I was struggling. I was taking things too personally. I was certainly not modeling Jesus (or my Dad). Judgment. Finger pointing. Disappointment. False Expectations. Pride. All of these attributes were growing within my heart. I knew my sin, now I just had to readjust my attitude. For some reason I couldn’t do this on my own (Duh – you think I would recognize this by now).
My friend told me a story about how she was so disappointed in some friends of hers that wouldn’t help her with church volunteer stuff. She couldn’t understand why they didn’t see the importance in her work. When she went to her hubby to ask his opinion, he gave her some unwanted advice. “Do you help your friends with their PTO stuff? Do help them when they need you?” Hmm… She wasn’t sure if she wanted to strangle her husband or hug him. He was right. She loved her friends, but she didn’t always reach out to them when they were in need. Their common ground was they all loved God. Wasn’t that enough? They made her laugh and inspired her in different ways. She needed to accept the fact that their interests did not revolve around her interests. She had to accept that they came together through the church and their love of God was enough to bond them together.
So as she told me this story, I realized that I too was guilty of this. I had all these false expectations of people – even people I just met – these expectations were blocking me from accepting where people are in life. They may be stuck in a rut, but I still love them. They may be making selfish choices, but I still love them. They may have different interests than me, but I still love them. What would this world be if we were all alike and had the exact same interests? Pretty boring I would guess.
So, now where do I take all this new found wisdom from my friend? I am not sure of that yet. It is certainly going to take time for me to change my sin to goodness. I will say when my friend related the story to me, I felt my heart melting. I knew that God was speaking to me through her. I realized my mistake, now I just have to do something about it.
Accepting people for who they are is tough. Realizing and acknowledging that I have those same faults within me is even harder. So my goal is to find the same faults within myself (humble myself) and then acknowledge that all people deserve respect and love: because they do. If I allow myself to think any other way, then I am permitting evil to win over my heart.
John 3:20-21 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.