When was the last time you showed someone love (outside of your family)? When I say ‘show someone love’ I mean instead of judgment or condemnation. When was the last time you showed a complete stranger acceptance instead of making assumptions about who they are?
It’s human nature to see someone and immediately condemn them for what we see, even without knowing a thing about their story. We so easily forget that we are all the way we are because of something. Some person or some event made us who we are. Perhaps it was not feeling loved by a parent, being abused by someone physically, emotionally or sexually, being made fun of for our weight or looks, a spouse that went out for milk and never came back, the passing of someone we loved deeply. When was the last time you took any of that into account?
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of judgment and condemnation. It’s also very easy to fall into the trap of gossip. And, how quickly we feel hurt and betrayed when someone does it to us yet we can’t wait to get together with certain friends to get the dirt on other people. What do we gain by doing this?
An even better question would be: What would the world be like if we all stopped judging each other and started loving each other instead?
Sure, people would think you were crazy but, so what? I’m willing to bet you’d make someone’s day. Imagine walking into DMV and greeting the person behind the desk with a great big smile and a “good morning!” Or, the next time you’re with your “gossipy” friends—you know you have them—you ask them to stop gossiping or you politely opt out of the conversation because you’re uncomfortable with it. Sure, at first they’ll probably judge you, too. But, something else will happen. You’ll have planted the seeds of what it’s like to do the right thing. You’ll cause them to think about their actions and who they are. This is called conviction. When we get offended when someone calls us out, it’s most often because, deep down, we know we’re guilty and that’s a crummy feeling. This conviction is just enough to cause a change, a ripple effect. You can begin to change the world around you.
I recently watched “The Bible” miniseries. I was amazed by how the actor playing Jesus gave such an incredible visual of how Jesus loved. The way He would look at people was amazing. It was a love you could see and feel. I’ve read it all in the Bible several times. But to see it left me floored. I would pause the TV just so I could stare at Him a little longer. He looked people in the eye with love.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when the woman is caught committing adultery and she’s brought into town to be stoned. Jesus says that the first person who is without sin can cast the first stone. Of course, everyone disappears. Then he looks at the woman and tells her to go back to her life and sin no more. There was no judgment, no condemnation; no “I can’t wait to have dinner with the Apostles tonight so I can tell them what she did”.
Jesus, the only man who ever lived without committing a single sin, who could’ve so easily cast the first stone, said to the woman:
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 7:11
I have a challenge for you. This week, try to show someone love like Jesus did. Maybe it’s a waitress that’s less than pleasant while you’re out to eat, or praying for someone instead of judging them and talking about them. I think you’ll be surprised by the response you get and how you get treated in return. You’ll also feel better about yourself.
Just remember, everyone has a story. And, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we’re called to love one another.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. —John 13:34-35