When I was growing up, the burning question that signified the teenage angst of the culture was, “Who am I?” Throughout time, people have tended to define themselves and others in terms of their careers and accomplishments, or what they did for others. That tendency carries with it a bent toward comparison leading to self-righteousness. For Christians, this behavior indicates that we have forgotten who we are…people who belong to Christ who are being sanctified, set apart for love and holiness, and that we cannot, on our best day, achieve any of it on our own.
Many times, gaining expertise in something can generate judgmental attitudes when we see errors. I know that for me, especially when I read journalistic articles, mistakes seem to snatch my attention even though I am not looking for them. I catch myself thinking, “What’s the matter with them? As journalists, they ought to know better!” This critical spirit is something I apply even more so to my own actions, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. Jesus is so much gentler with His rebukes, persuasively inviting me to submit to His tender care. It is there via the administration of the Holy Spirit that loving and powerful transformation can exchange criticism and condemnation for compassion and understanding. Which of us does not desire to be better understood or treated with more kind-heartedness?
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other…just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
Knowing we are incapable of true love, compassion, and holiness can lead to despair if one lives out of fellowship with Jesus. This can perhaps even particularly apply to Christians who believe in Jesus and trust Him as Savior, yet do not trust Him implicitly with their daily lives “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” II Timothy 3:5 What does the Word of God tell us about it?
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
God is consistently effecting His transforming work in our hearts when we submit to His love. Because of Jesus’ work, He does not see us in terms of our sinful attitudes, yet is mindful that we are weak in our flesh. He evaluates us with patience, lovingkindness, and compassion, even in His rebukes. I pray that you and I will continually rest in Him in the midst of our work so that we will know precisely and immutably who we are in Him, and then pass that patience, long-suffering, and compassion on to others, no matter who they are or what they do.