Reading though Les Miserables (see previous blog post) got me thinking a lot about character, love and redemption. People often wonder how it is that God speaks to me. Certainly he inserts thoughts into my mind, or nudges my heart in directions he wants me to go, but there’s something larger going on behind the scenes. As Jesus sets me increasingly free to live inside his love and care for me, it changes the way I treat others. The grid through which I respond to people changes. Instead of being focused on my needs, either maximizing my benefit or minimizing any potential pain, I’m able to see them and care about them for who they are. This allows me to think in a clearer space where his nudgings and insights are not so hard to notice.
By no means do I attain all of this in every situation, but these statements describe how I’m learning to live inside his love for me. Please don’t think of these as a set of obligations to follow, but as the space that defines the freedom Jesus invites you to live in. Obligation will not produce this. Only by learning to live loved will we be free enough to sense his heart in our unfolding circumstances and be able to treat people with honor and grace.
- Be yourself, no more and no less. Pretense is not your friend and deceit darkens your own soul.
- Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Follow through on your word, even if you regret giving it.
- Put relationships above things. Be kind and gracious to everyone, especially those you don’t think deserve it.
- Live at the intersection of authenticity and compassion. You don’t owe everyone all you know, but make sure that what you do share is honest while it also gives grace to the hearer. Remember character is measured by how you treat people with kindness when you’re absolutely sure they are in the wrong.
- Unless people are harassing or abusing you, you are better off hearing them out and working through their pain rather than cutting them off to protect yourself. Only those who want to hide in the darkness, cast aside relationships just because they become difficult. The best relationships are won through difficulties and misunderstandings.
It makes life so much easier when you treat people kindly, honor your own words, and trust that God is bigger than any mistake you can make. That’s a list of the things I’ve been thinking about. Feel free to add to it if you have other simple statements of what it’s like to live in God’s love toward others.