As I walked my two oldest kids out of the door at the grocery store, we moved out of the way as a man wearing a hoodie squeezed by us. It was a bit unusual as the temperature was around 80 degrees. He was carrying a black bag that looked heavy. As he walked/jogged away toward a black lowered Honda Civic. Two men, who appeared to be employees from their name tags and clothing, came sprinting after the man in the hoodie yelling at him. The man set the bag down and ran to the Civic empty-handed. He got in the car and the vehicle sped out of the parking lot. The employees collected the stolen merchandise.
After this excitement, I turned to my children to explain what had happened. I told them, “that man who ran by us is a thief.” It felt weird saying it. I work with youth who have committed crimes on a daily basis but don’t refer to them as thieves, even though most have done that behavior. I began to ponder why I had labeled him as a thief, even though the name fit his behavior.
A week or so later I was in a conversation talking passionately about a subject. I was frustrated by the ignorance of some people and wished they would think about what they were doing and saying. In the conversation I said, “they are idiots.” Idiots is not a word I use and I am often telling my kids, as well as residents where I work, not to call each other names. Nevertheless there I was calling someone a name. The name fit the behavior but it didn’t feel right. This time I knew what it was.
I had a pretty good idea why calling the man a “thief” didn’t feel right but when I called the other individuals “idiots” I knew. It was because I was labeling them, not their behavior. That got me thinking about how God views people. The Bible says that before we were redeemed we were slaves to sin. Now that we have been redeemed we are children and heirs of God.
You are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. – Galatians 4:7
Jesus has died for each of us, and wants everyone to be redeemed as His children. In order for me to change, I need to see people through God’s eyes. He doesn’t label us based on our behavior.
A specific example of this is Paul’s conversion in Acts 9. Jesus doesn’t call him a murderer and persecutor. He mentions Paul’s behavior then calls Paul His “chosen instrument.” Ananias also doesn’t label Paul, what he does do is calls him “Brother Saul” when he meets him.
Part of my journey at the moment is learning to see people how God sees them. I do this by asking God how he sees them. It is then easy for me to speak life over them knowing they have a destiny. Everyone is born with a God given purpose and if we could see it we would change our view of them. The next time you find yourself calling someone a name, even if it can be justified, I encourage you to ask Jesus how He sees them.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post! Be blessed!