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Do you label?
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How do you look at others?

 

You know we can be so ungracious to each other.

And it's so sad that as believers we can be so much worse, than those who don't know Christ.

We tend to put a "blanket" over people. Group them. Label people for their past. And we monitor our level of involvement in others lives. According to what we think of them, what we "perceive". Or think we are perceiving. Be it right, or wrong.

And it's so sad that we will not look at a person. Past their experiences. Past, well their "past". Who they really are inside. Solely, because we have already "labeled" them.

And this reminds me of the story of the woman who was caught in adultery:

 "Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"

She said, "No one, Lord."

And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

                     (John 8:2-11 NKJV)

Now, here is a woman caught in adultery. She is brought to Jesus. Was she guilty? Well, according to scripture, she was caught in the very act.

But notice Jesus did not respond like the Pharisees, or the Scribes. He said, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first". What happened? Their hearts were convicted. They were caught by surprise. They realized that they were no better than she was. They all had sin in their lives. They were all unrighteous. They all had a past. So they walked away. From the oldest to the last. Now think about this. The oldest walk away first. Why? Because those that are older. Those that are more mature. They usually realize the truth much sooner than those who are younger. They've had more experiences. Then the younger ones walk away also. They eventually realize, that they too, are no better.

Now, don’t you just love Jesus' response here? His love, grace and mercy. He saw past her sin. He saw what she could be. He saw her as someone valuable. He had mercy. Unlike us! We have such a hard time seeing past a person's sin, or their past. We tend to label each other. Using such labels such as, "broken", "damaged", or "used goods". So much so, that we hurt so many people by our "labeling". That a person ceases to be known for who they are, but by the label we attach to them.

And isn't that sad?

You know our first tendency is to judge others. Just like the Pharisees and scribes. Whenever we hear of something someone has been through. Whether it was their sin, or a sin committed against them. We tend to hold things against others. Their past, situations, what they have been through. Even if it was not their fault. And it's so sad that we would have accepted this person. Had we not known about their past. Or what they had been through, or done!

And what is so sad is that we can deeply hurt others. By looking at them for their past experiences. Never really seeing who they are as individuals. But only by a label we attach to them.

You know as believers, we are to be agents of God's grace, love and mercy. But how can we truly be? If we truly cannot see past someone's past, or their situations. If we truly cannot love someone past, well their "past". And love them for them!

And we have to ask ourselves this. Do we really know and understand what real love is about?

Do we "get" what scripture says to us:

 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails..."

               (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NIV)

According to scripture, "love never fails".

But yet we fail each other everyday of our lives. We fail each other when we cannot love others past what we perceive, or think we perceive. Or what we know about them, or their past. Basically? We cannot love them past their "past", their flaws and all!

But yet God loves us past who we are. What we've done in the past. What we've been through. What has been committed against us. He loves us past our sin. He loves us, "past our past". And we should be so grateful He does this. And does not judge us like we judge each other!

You know each and everyone of us are guilty of this. Me, included! We all have at some point been guilty of this in our lives. Or are we guilty now?

We are all no better than the pharisees and scribes who were judgmental. Who were more than ready to condemn this woman. Without giving any thought to showing her grace, mercy, or real love.

Much like the pharisee in the temple:

 "He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: "Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: 'Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other peoplerobbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.'

"Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, 'God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'"

Jesus commented, "This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself."

                (Luke 18:9-14 The Message)

I would encourage you today. Think on these things. How good are you at loving others? Do you label them because of past sin. Or their past? Are you able to see past their situations. Or the experiences they've had. And see the person? Who they are on the inside, who they could really be?

Or do you blanket groups of people?

You know often it takes us being humbled ourselves. Before we can show real love, grace and mercy. Standing in another person's shoes before we learn. Before we understand the pain of not being seen for who we really are. But only for the circumstances of our lives, or our past.

And I'm sure there are many of us that have been humbled. And realized what it is. To walk in another's shoes. What pain they can go through.

But for those who haven't? It's truly not easy to understand the depth of pain that another goes through.

You know Jesus said, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (JN 7:24). Jesus was so good at seeing the person. Past appearances. Seeing who they really are. Who they could be. And He loved them passionately. From the woman caught in adultery. To the tax collector who cheated others. Those who were considered less. Considered "undesirable", "broken", "damaged" and "used goods".

You see the question is this. Can you see past someone's actions, their sin, their past, their past situations? Can you really, truly and honestly love them, for them?

As followers of Jesus, we are to be agents of God's love, grace and mercy. But if we truly cannot love people past what we think, or perceive of them. Do we really know what real love is about?

You know we often wonder why many people never come to Jesus. But it's no wonder when they see how we treat each other. And how we treat them! We seem to have such difficulty loving others past, well their "past". But thank the Lord that He loves us. Despite out past! And He loves us where we are at!!

After all, God loves us "in-spite" of who we are, where we've been, our past. Shouldn't we be able to do the same for each other?

And I would encourage you. If you have been "labeled" because of your past, or past sin. Remember this. God does not see you as "broken", "worthless", "damaged", or "used goods". He values you for who you are, not who you are not!

 

Rev. John Heintzman
Evangelist Non-Denominational
POHOM
 
Any questions, comments, prayer requests?
 

POHOM Columbus, Ohio
 
 
 
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