“… All are summed up by this, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Romans 13:9b
What Do You See?
Have you ever had the problem of seeing the sin in someone else and not seeing the person? Seeing a problem and not a child of God? Having feelings of irritation or anger, not of a broken heart for the situation or the person? I have—with people I know and even people I don’t know. God has convicted me that this is a sin in me! God created each human being in His image, with His breath of life in them, for His purposes and for His glory. My mindset needs to change; my heart needs to change.
Before continuing, let us define “neighbor.” In Scripture, when Jesus was asked in Luke 10:29, “Who is my neighbor?”, Jesus answered with the parable of the good Samaritan. Your neighbor can be a friend, a fellow believer, a family member, a member of your community or simply any person.
This command to love your neighbor as yourself is repeated many times in the Bible—Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8. I have been taught that when God repeats Himself, I better pay attention, because it is important! Is it easy to love others as yourself? I don’t think so. It is easy to love the people we love and treat them in a loving, gentle, caring way, but what about those we know who are hard to love? I call those the “sandpaper people” in my life. We all have them, those who just rub us raw and exhaust us. I have found over the years that even though I struggle with these people in my life, I need them, they refine me and create patience in me, and only with God’s help can I truly love and care about them. Isn’t that what God wants, to turn to Him with all our needs and problems?
So, in the spirit of loving your neighbor, what happens when we can only see the sin in someone and not the person? I believe that in these situations, it is a fear, anger or uneasiness in us. Does their sin make you uncomfortable? Does it put you in a position of knowing something you didn’t want to know or shouldn’t know? Do you want to judge them? I believe in speaking truth with love, compassion with a true broken heart for the sin. If it goes farther than that, it could be stepping into the area of judging. Judging is only a job for God. Christians are called to love!
Study Jesus—He shows all of us how to love. He loved us with everything He had. He gave His life to save each and every one of us. There is a saying that “you truly do not know someone else unless you have walked in their shoes.” Show kindness, a smile, a hug. We are all the same—we all have sin in our lives, even if some sins are more on display than others.
“Heavenly Father, please give us a heart full of love and compassion for all people. May Your love in us overflow and touch others’ lives in a positive way. Please take away a cold heart of judgment and allow us to see Your beloved child behind the sin. Forgive us all for the daily sins we fall into, and point us to Jesus. Amen.”