In recent articles, we have talked about “What God Sees,” when He looks at a man, that “the Lord looks at the heart,” weighing us and judging us based upon our innermost thoughts (cf. 1 Samuel 16:7).
We have also discussed “What Man Sees;” that, lacking the ability to read minds, those around us have nothing but our own actions upon which to judge us. Such lessons are sober reminders that how we think and act have consequences and that others, including God, are going to make decisions about what kind of people we are. It is therefore necessary, if we want to be judged well, that we behave well.
And yet, if we are to be honest, we know that we have all acted in less than stellar ways at times. Speaking of our relationship to God and sin, the Bible testifies that “all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). To be a sinner is to be an enemy of God, at war with Him and His laws and subject to His wrath and condemnation (cf. James 4:4; Romans 2:5; Colossians 3:5-6). Yet, while we were still sinners, and objects of is wrath, God sent Jesus to die for us. (cf. Romans 5:6-8) This is a remarkable thing — God looked upon our hearts, knew we were unworthy, and still acted anyway to save us from our own mistakes.
What could motivate such behavior?
The answer is love. God sees man through a prism of loving-kindness.
In defining love, the Bible speaks to its many characteristics, telling us for instance that love is kind and patient (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4) The Scriptures also say of love’s attitude towards others, that it, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7; NKJV) When love looks at another, it sees the flaws, love does not, of itself make one blind to imperfection, but it sees past the flaws to the potential underneath. It believes the best of others and hopes for the best in others, and is willing to endure and bear with weakness in order to try and draw out their best.
So when God looks at man, He sees our sins and He is aware of the myriad weaknesses of our hearts. He knows of our failings and none of the defects of our character are hidden from His omniscient sight. Yet at the same time, God, in His perfect love, also sees our potential. He knows He made us to be in His image, and to walk in His footsteps, and in that vision of love, that hope for better from us, God sacrificed Jesus for our sins in order to create an opportunity for us to find forgiveness, sanctification and hope for eternity.
God does not desire the destruction of His creation, man, rather God has hope that each of us will repent and find salvation in Christ (cf. 2 Peter 3:9). Not everyone is going to live up to God’s love, but God’s love colors how He treats each of us.
Speaking to each one of us, the Bible reminds us to be patient with those around us. “Be kind to one another,” the Bible says, “tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
We need to learn to look at other people, not through rose-colored glasses, but through love-tinted glasses; remembering that love hopes for the best, believes the best, and is willing to endure when others are not at their best.
When love looks at a person, it sees past their mistakes to the potential underneath. When love looks at a person, it sees one who was made in the image of God, and one for whom Christ died. It sees an individual with the capability of doing great things. It sees a person who is worthy of patience, understanding and encouragement. When love looks at a person, it does so with kindness.
We can’t force others to look upon us with the same love that God does, but we can each do our best to learn to look at others that way.
If you would learn more about the love that God has for you, the Chapel Hill church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.