After 9/11 I became very leery of Middle Eastern people.
I was scared.
We were all scared. We had an enemy, but the enemy was not clearly defined. We knew this enemy was evil, and had extremely different beliefs from us. For me, I struggled to understand how they thought killing over 3,000 people was a good thing. Our country was rocked to the core.
What is their agenda?
“How can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” (James 2:1 NLT).
This passage is referring to rich people versus poor people, but it relates to many situations in life today.
I couldn’t help but wonder if each Middle Eastern person I ran in to were plotting the demise of more Americans. Did they have an agenda we had no idea about? After a few years of this, I became weary of constantly judging these people for what an evil group did. I don’t believe every Middle Eastern person is a radical terroristic Muslim out to kill all Americans. However, I do believe there are many here, in America.
Either way, God’s word is clear on how I am to treat them.
I remember the first time I read this. If I break one law, I have broken all of them. Wow! I knew God wants and desires my obedience, but He also leveled the playing field. This is where God’s amazing grace kicks in.
As humans, you and I have put degrees on sin. A little white lie doesn’t hurt anyone. If she commits adultery, she is a really bad Christian. What if he drinks and drives? Then he is an even worse sinner than the adulteress. Human nature has given degrees to sin. However, all sin is black against God’s standards. My white lie and a friend having an abortion are the same in God’s eyes.
My Sin Washed White
Sin is sin, and only the blood of Jesus can wash us white. I love the lyrics from Chris Tomlin’s song, At The Cross: “Where your love ran red, and my sin washed white.” Christ paid the ultimate price no one else could, to give us the privilege of an intimate relationship with God. We abuse this privilege when we show favor to some people over others.
I have lived in the Deep South for many years. Judgment can go both ways.This year has been a painful one for many, because of discrimination and bad judgement. Innocent people, black and white, have been killed because of bitterness festering in their hearts. Jesus was the purest and best example of how we should treat others, and this is how I try to live. I don’t always succeed.
Jesus hung out with tax collectors, who made America’s IRS look like saints. He talked with prostitutes, the sick, the lame, and women sleeping with men who weren’t their husbands. He hung out with the social outcasts of his time to show us how to love and treat others.
Be Kind and Respect
My parents were great examples of this, and instilled in me the need to treat others with kindness and respect. I don’t care if you are filthy rich, dirt poor, or somewhere in between. I will be kind and respect you. I don’t care if you are purple, pink, or brown. I will be kind and respect you. I don’t care if you are lesbian, goth, drug addict, or alcoholic. I will be kind and respect you.
Don’t confuse kindness and respect with being a pushover. Jesus was definitely not a pushover, and neither am I. God did not ask us to be best friends with everyone on earth. He knows how different we are, and how it just doesn’t work for some people to get along.
However, He does ask for us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” To me this means we need to show love, kindness, and respect even when others do not treat us the same. How would you want a stranger to treat you, or even a neighbor or co-worker? Being a light for Christ means we act differently than the world.
There are many people who are easy to be around. Then there are people who just rub you the wrong way when they walk in the room.
This often takes maturing in your faith, and working through any anger or emotional issues you are dealing with.
A friend of mine was beat up as an eighth grader by a black child who should have been in 9th grade. This tainted my friend’s view of most black people. These are the kind of issues we all need to work through.
I still struggle with my view of Middle Eastern people at times. Typically, I will do one of two things. I will pray for God to soften my heart and forgive me for my judgment, or I will pray for them. It is hard to judge or hate someone as you pray for them. God gives us the power to love others who are not like us.
I encourage you to read James 2:1-13 today. God is full of grace and mercy for us. We don’t deserve them, but He freely gives them. In verse 13 James reminds us, “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when He judges you.” The notes in my Bible share, “We can’t earn forgiveness by forgiving others. But when we withhold forgiveness from others after having received it ourselves, we show that we don’t understand or appreciate God’s mercy towards us.” (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)
God Knows The Truth
Earlier this year I had some people spew lies about me to my face. It hurt deeply, and they claim to be Christians. I was shocked and stunned to be falsely accused of such blatant lies. This was a situation I could not change what they said, but I could control how I responded. After getting mad and grieving the loss of friendships, I decided to forgive and set us both free.
You see, I know the truth. God knows the truth. I think they know the truth, but refuse to admit it. I decided to give it over to God, and asked Him to help me to truly forgive them. It still hurts, and I could get mad if I think about it too long. However, this is a waste of my time and energy, because I have handed it over to God. I choose to forgive again and again.
There are some relationships you can mend, and there are some like chaff among the wheat. You separate and keep going.
Choose To Love God more than getting revenge.
Choose Grace. God gives us more grace than we deserve.
Choose Mercy. God gives us new mercies every day.
Choose Forgiveness even when it hurts. Forgiveness brings healing to our hearts.
Choose everyday to follow Him.
God will give you the power and ability to love others as He loves us.
What are some ways you “loved your neighbor”
when it was difficult? Please share in the comments.
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