It is so difficult to look past the actions of someone who has hurt you.
Whether a co-worker, a parent, friend, a child, church member, a pastor…we all have been hurt and disappointed by the actions of others. We are a “performance” driven society where actions speak louder than words. And I agree. They do.
However, all people are on a journey.
We are all growing and learning and maturing with each passing day.
Some have grown more empathetic and are grace-givers because they have received it themselves–they know, first hand, the life-changing difference it makes. Some are strictly rule-followers. They live their life based on the rules and their ability to follow them to a T and expect the same from you. This may seem noble. But really is no more than a hollow shell that will produce emptiness in your life and in your relationships with others.
And some are rule-imposers. They just expect YOU to follow the rules and don’t expect anywhere close to the same performance from themselves. Perhaps, because of what you claim to believe. And sometimes, simply because it makes them feel better about themselves. This always ends in broken relationships.
I am constantly blown away at the gift God gave us in Jesus. Before He came to earth to give His life for us, He lived among us, showing us the way. His life was full of truth and He was constantly teaching those around Him, through words and deeds. His living example of how to be a grace-giver is priceless.
In John 8, the original rule-imposers, (Pharisees) brought a woman to Jesus who was accused of adultery. They made her stand before a group as they shared her sin with them. They fully expected Jesus to punish her, just as they were chomping at the bit to do. Not only were they condemning the woman, they were also trying to trap Jesus by asking Him what He was going to do about it. They reminded Him that stoning her was the law.
Oh, how I love the heart of Jesus.
He doesn’t argue or debate.
He simply bent down and wrote something in the sand and said…”you who are without sin, cast the first stone.”
One by one, each walked away.
For there was one-only One– who could stay and have the right to judge. And there He remained–not to condemn–but to offer grace instead.
We all love this picture of grace, don’t we?
Because in our hearts, we realize we are her.
But too many times we stop here.
We use this verse and keep it in our arsenal to warn others not to judge. We use Jesus’ words to create boundaries in our life so we can continue living as we please. But Jesus came to break down those boundaries. He loves us too much to keep us comfortable at the expense of truth.
Yes, He told us not to judge and condemn.
But He also loved her enough to look her in the eyes–full of love and compassion–and said “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Because that’s what pure love does.
Jesus looks at us and sees our heart; not just our actions. But He loves us too much to leave us where we are. He knows we are settling. He knows there is more. And He loves us enough to show us the Way. He loved us enough to be The Way.
My, how different this world would be if we prayed and asked Jesus to do this in us and through us. What if we started each day by asking Him to help us see the heart of others before their actions?
Wow! Our families would be changed. Our friendships would deepen. Our relationships would look entirely different. And people would see Jesus in us.
I firmly believe that we would look at ourselves differently, too. We would start to see ourselves through God’s eyes and begin to realize our value and worth. That always puts us in a better position to love others more deeply and to offer them grace.
Lord, please help us to be like the first grace- giver. Help us to be like Jesus.
Open our eyes and hearts to the wonderful truths that He came to model for us. It’s more than just a nice story. It’s everything.