25th October 2016

Blessings or Lessons?

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice in a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all who exalts themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:10-14 (NIV)

Most people know the saying, “There’s nowt so queer as folk.” That’s true because people come in all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of opinions and attitudes, with different prejudices and ideas. There’s nothing harder to open than a closed mind. But we must be careful because we all start from the position that our approach is normal and that the others are wrong.

As the scripture above indicates, Jesus Christ could discern the difference between a genuine, humble approach compared to someone wrapped up in their own arrogance and self-righteousness, both then and now.

It’s true to say that some people we meet are blessings for us, while others are lessons for us, often in what not to do. People are endlessly fascinating because of who they are. Some are outwardly extrovert and often loud or have the ability to start an argument in an empty room. Some are quiet, but often have surprising depth. Some are naturally warm, positive and friendly; some are naturally cold, remote and tend to be negative about life. Some people can see a silver lining in every black cloud, some people can see a black cloud in every silver lining.

The interesting thing about Christians is that they represent all the different types of people you could possibly think of, but with one significant difference. To a greater or lesser extent, depending on where they are on their Christian journey, they have surrended their lives to Christ and seek to follow him. That difference affects their relationships with everybody with whom they come into contact. Instead of judging people by their faults and foibles, Christians try to live lives of love and compassion. In a world which judges so much on appearances, Christians try to avoid being prejudiced. A simple example is a person who covers themselves in tattoos: if you don’t like tattoos it’s easy to make a judgment without knowing anything about the person. However, if you get to know them you may be pleasantly surprised.

God wants a relationship with all human beings, whatever their faults and failings in our eyes. God looks on the heart, (1.Samuel 16:7) not on external appearances, as in the example above in Luke. How about us? How do we approach people we don’t know? Humbly and lovingly, recognising them as a potential child of God, or based on our perception of our standards of appearance, dress and manner?

When you think that God loves us right now, with all our faults and failings, shouldn’t we try to exercise grace in our relationships with others? For us, some people are blessings, while others are lessons, but let’s try to enjoy both types of people.

Prayer
Father, help us to work on our attitude and relationship with all the people we come into contact with, not just those we feel comfortable with, trying to reflect your love to them, as we rejoice in your love for us. In Jesus name.
Amen 

Study by Keith Hartrick

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keithhartrickAbout the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds, and serves on the Church Council there.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association
Community Centre
Pendas Way
LEEDS LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: malcolm701@googlemail.com

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