The Most Convicting Thought Ever
The Bible says, “Love believes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NASB). But I don’t.
Obviously, the Bible’s not talking about being naïve. I think the Bible is saying that love always believes the best; love gives the beloved the benefit of the doubt.
But I don’t.
Well, I do. I give my kids the benefit of the doubt when they’re talking to me. I give my sister the benefit of the doubt when I read an email from her. When my best friend sends me a confusing text message, I give him the benefit of the doubt. I do this with people I love.
I just don’t love many people.
What if I chose to love more people? What if I chose to love authors and speakers and film makers and song writers in this way? What if reading and listening became an act of Christian love for me?
That’s the most convicting thought I’ve had in the past few years -- maybe the most convicting thought ever. I remember where I was sitting when it hit me. And since then, I’ve been trying to make some changes.
Now, as I read an author or listen to a speaker or have a conversation, I’m trying to get myself out of a judgmental posture and ask myself, “How would I read this if I loved the author? How would I listen if I loved this speaker?”
I am an author and a professional speaker – that’s what I’ll put on my tax form this year. And I have to say: getting up to speak in front of a group of people is one of the most nerve-wracking endeavors imaginable. A close second would be actually sitting down and putting thoughts on paper for people to read. I am vulnerable when I do that. I am especially vulnerable to criticism immediately after I’m done. And, having worked with pastors and preachers from Seattle to Orlando, I know that I am far from alone.
There are books I disagree with. There are speakers who spout error of all kinds. There is a time for healthy disagreement and even confrontation and rebuttal. But I have been humbled and convicted by God about the way I read and the way I listen. All too often I listen for a chance to disagree, confront and rebut. I sit, like Simon Cowell, listening for a mistake, hoping they’re off-key so I can appear witty, intelligent and superior.
I’m not rooting for the speaker.
I’m not loving the author.
And that – most assuredly – is not living Christianly.
The Bible says flatly, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6b). That’s what comes when we’ve been fully submerged in the grace of God, the unmerited, unearned favor of our Creator and Redeemer. When you finally get grace – or when grace finally gets you – you’ll find it impossible to sit in judgment of someone else. You’ll realize that you’re not “in” because you’re smarter than someone else or more theologically precise in your terminology.
Sitting in judgment like that becomes repulsive to you because you realize it’s usurping the role of the One who has the right to sit in judgment of you but has extended mercy and kindness, forgiveness and love instead.
Jesus seemed to think that acceptance and forgiveness could accomplish what judgment and condemnation never could. When you become like him, you’ll begin to see things that way, too.