How often does someone say something to you, and your first thought is that the comment is negative? Maybe they’re just asking you a question about something and you take it to mean they don’t like what you’ve done, or what you’ve said, or what you’ve become. Do you ever respond to their implied (even if only in your head) comment, or do you respond to the actual comment, or question?
Well, if you’re anything like me, you might hear comments or questions in a negative voice instead of in an inquisitive voice. It’s tiring doubting people’s motives, and the meaning of their words all of the time. It’s also debilitating. It keeps real progress from being made. It demotivates me, frustrates me and de-energizes me. At the time it happens, it seems like all of it is coming from them, when it’s really our interpretation of the events.
So why do I do it? That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Why do I doubt that people are good-hearted?
I believe this negative spin we hear from people all of the time (or, at least, think we hear) is explained in Titus 1:15, “A person who is pure of heart sees goodness and purity in everything; but a person whose own heart is evil and untrusting finds evil in everything, for his dirty mind and rebellious heart color all he sees and hears.”
Maybe I should just speak for me, otherwise, you may not like me very much. I already have problems believing you do, so I’ll try not to give you more reason to dislike me.
When I first read Titus, it was almost an ‘aha’ moment. It shouldn’t have been. I know my heart is evil and untrusting at times. I know I have self-worth issues. I know I lack self-confidence. What I haven’t fully realized, and am truly still working on, is that this view – this condition of my heart – colors everything I see and hear, even with the most well-meaning, kind-hearted people.
At first, I stop and wonder, is Titus 1:15 a command, or is it a result (of who I am becoming)? Either way, it matters not. I want to be the person ‘who is pure of heart’… who ‘sees goodness and purity in everything’.
I do not want to ‘find evil in everything’.
I recognize in others that which I am seeking or becoming!
Too often, I doubt people’s motives (or their hearts), from a place of self-doubt, not because people treat me that way. Instead, I tend to recognize (really, perceive) evil in others too easily, because of my own lack of seeking ‘purity and goodness in everything’.
If I pursue Christ – his truth, his character – I will begin to see his truth and character in others. I’m tired of my default operation being to doubt people’s motives. I choose a new default – to recognize the divine in people – including myself.
I want to be around people who recognize the divine at work in me, so I seek to become that for others. I will quit using my past as the lens through which I judge others’ motives. I want to recognize the grace, truth and love pouring out of others. Whether they are truly overflowing with those, or simply seeking those, is of no matter. People need a mirror that will reflect the Divine qualities at work within them, not a mirror that reflects the dirt and grime they’ve been through.
My prayer for you today, and especially for myself, is that we’ll be the mirror that recognizes and reflects the divine.
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