Tuesday, January 6, 2009

James 2:1-13 "Mercy Over Judgment"

Read James 2:1-13.

"Mercy triumphs over judgment!" NIV

How often have I been caught in this trap -- judging by appearances and favoring the one that looks better, dresses nicer, smells better. And I was so wrong. Jesus did just the opposite. He was drawn to the down and out, the castaways, the ostracized. Why is that?

I have been praying for some time now that God would allow me to see people as He sees them. That means that I must take the time to look past the outward appearances -- good or bad -- and into their heart which the Father sees. If they are good at masking their heart, I must rely on the Holy Spirit to help me to see the truth. But no matter what I see, I am called to love all people I come in contact with as my neighbor, and thus to love them as I love myself.

So it takes steps, 1) Remembering it's not about me, 2) Seeing past appearances, and 3) Trying to understand who people really are. We must always remember that we are not number one. We so often dwell on how am I looking to others, how will this affect me, am I going to be inconvenienced? I don't matter, what matters are others and their needs. When I received Christ as my Lord I died to self (and continue to die daily.) I must get past me first before I can reach out to others.

If I stay alert, I can get through number two pretty easily. All people are God's creation no matter what situation they are in right now. Lord, help me to not judge others by their appearance.

Accomplishing the third step is a little trickier. Jesus could look at someone and know everything about them. He told the woman at the well how many husbands she had and that she was not married to the man she was living with. I really don't expect the Lord to give me instant information like this although occasionally He does give me insights. So how do I know people for who they really are? How can I know someone who is hidden behind riches or rags?..... Questions. Really good questions.

Since I was a little girl I watched my mom ask really good questions. She could dig into the heart of a situation faster than anyone I knew. It can even start with a "How are you?" But what we must do is listen past the cursory, "Fine." everyone responds with. What's their body language, tone of voice, facial expression? Are they really fine? And most of the time, if I make sure that I really want to know how they are, they sense that and will tell more. If not, I need to probe further. Loving my neighbor as myself means I need to take time to really know them, understand them, hurt and rejoice with them.

Lord, help me not to overlook someone because of their appearances. Help me to see people as You see them. Give me ears to hear their true heart and wisdom to ask the right questions. May all I do come out of a love for You and for Your creation.

Further Thoughts:
  1. Which of the three steps do you get hung up on? Why? What can you do to change that?
  2. Have you ever thought of favoritism as a sin? Why or why not?
  3. Reread the passage of Jesus with the woman at the well. (John 4:1-26) What other passages show Jesus reaching out to the unloved? See Luke 7:36-50 and John 8:1-11.
  4. How is showing favoritism related to judging? Search for other Scriptures on "judging."

1 comment:

  1. Whoa! This is a constant battle I would guess for all of us... Thanks for the reminder!!! Deb