What would it look like if we were known by grace...? We know Jesus tells us God requires us to love Him and love each other. But what does that look like? I think we need to start by receiving God's love as the gracious gift that it is. Being known and being loved are two of the greatest human desires and they go hand in hand. Our Creator God knows us and loves us, just the way we are. But he does this so we can love others the same way. 'We love because he first loved us.' (1 John 4:19 NIV)
Who do we love? How do we love? What if, instead of seeing people the way they present, we looked at their heart? (1 Samuel 16:7) There is enough criticism in the world. Criticism of ourselves and of each other. Enough hatred. Enough judgement. I don't think it's just beauty queens that long for world peace. The thing is, it's not up to us to decide who or how we love. The bible is pretty clear on this matter.
In Romans 2 (ERV) says...
1 So do you think that you can judge those other people? You are wrong. You too are guilty of sin. You judge them, but you do the same things they do. So when you judge them, you are really condemning yourself. 2 God judges all who do such things, and we know his judgment is right.3 And since you do the same things as those people you judge, surely you understand that God will punish you too. How could you think you would be able to escape his judgment? 4 God has been kind to you. He has been very patient, waiting for you to change. But you think nothing of his kindness. Maybe you don’t understand that God is kind to you so that you will decide to change your lives.
What stands out to me in this passage apart from the strong language and challenge not to judge, (and wow that hits hard, doesn't it?) is that God has been kind to me. He is the judge (unlike us), and yet, he chooses grace. He has been very patient waiting for me to become the woman he has created me to be (and he's not finished with me yet!) God's kindness, it seems, exists to change me. And perhaps I need to look at the plank of wood in my eye before considering the teeny tiny speck in someone else's that I so easily seem to be able to see (Matthew 7:1-5 ). This takes self control. Guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23). Take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Choose to stay silent (James 3:5). Even when someone invites you into their spiritual walk (and let's be honest, that's only a few people) and you have the privilege of 'sharpening' them (Proverbs 27:17), it needs to be done with kindness and with your own integrity in tact. This passage speaks of the people we love. If you love your parents, you honour them (Exodus 20:12). If you love your children, you show them grace. If you love your friend, you don't judge the way she parents her children. If you love the pastors in your church, you don't criticise them (Hebrews13:17).
God is our judge and also our defender (Deuteronomy10:18, Psalms 55:22). Who are we to judge our neighbours? (James 4:11-12)
Eugene H. Peterson says it best here, 'Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behaviour from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.' Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG