Sizing Up Others

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.‘” 1 Samuel 16:7

Do you get that there are two ways of “seeing” people and sizing them up?  The Bible is filled with stories about times when God showed up and described people in ways that definitely did not fit the behaviors or character they were demonstrating at the time.  Gideon was not acting like a mighty man of valor as he threshed wheat under-cover in a winepress.  Creative and resourceful, maybe — but not mighty or valiant.  Imagine God choosing Moses, a stuttering murderer, to liberate millions of slaves and lead them to a promised land. And who can overlook the guys chosen by Jesus himself to be His closest friends—fishermen, tax collector… Can you honestly say that His selection criteria make any sense to you?

No question about it, God doesn’t see people the way the world views them and His way of sizing people up is radically different as well. As followers of Christ, imitators of His nature, we need to learn to see through His eyes as we size up others too.  It takes some skill to accurately assess candidates for an employment assignment and work task. Best practice in the workplace is to rely on past performance and behavior as the best predictor of future performance. Using that measuring stick, would rough fisherman Peter have been selected into the inner circle of the Savior and Redeemer of mankind?  For that matter, would pharisee Saul have been selected  to be the gospel voice for the entire gentile world and the radical reformer of the Jewish faith? Do you remember who you were and what you had to offer when Jesus saved you? Thank God that He does not select people based on their character, condition and merits! No, God sees people as He created them—perfect and priceless. He has placed believers in Christ so that we look just like Jesus when He views us. How amazing is that?

I spent time with a friend this weekend and he was venting about a female supervisor in his workplace who he described as a loud, vulgar and frequently profane micro-manager.  The more I heard, the more the picture formed of a woman behaving far from her true identity.  In my mind I saw this frightened and insecure person trying hard to fit into a dominantly male world by emulating her idea of “manly” behaviors—domineering, loud, crass and harsh. None of her efforts will ever produce the acceptance and respect she is probably hoping for but I doubt she has a back-up plan to try when her current strategy fails. Not only is she not who she is designed to be but she is also keeping her subordinates from achieving their potential and living out their designs.  As I thought about this situation I could feel the compassion in me rising up for her. I wondered if this is what Jesus sees and feels as He looks at her.

Obviously, the world is quick to judge and to condemn.   Unfortunately, in far too many instances, believers cannot be distinguished from the world when it comes to rendering judgment and speaking words of disrespect. What representation of God’s glorious Kingdom do we give when we size up people as the world does?  I am certain we add no value and no blessing  to the lives of others with our surface observations and natural reactions. I am equally certain that most people are well aware of their shortcomings and failures and do not require others to point them out.  But if we are not to respond as the world does, what are we supposed to do when we find ourselves with these broken and sometimes toxic people? As imitators of Christ, what’s our reaction to be when we see people behaving badly and falling short of their potential? 

The Bible is clear on this.  We are to love others and to believe the best about them.  We are called to encourage and to give hope. We are to follow the example of Jesus, no matter what it costs us.  He led with love and mercy; He freely forgave; He spoke to people as if they were already healed; and, He blessed them every time.  Jesus met people right where they were, in sin and failure, but saw in them the potential for wholeness and destiny.  That’s our calling as well.

Let’s start with the knowledge that God loves all mankind with a perfect love and it is His desire that none should perish.  He places us in dark and chaotic places with people who need the light, love and mercy of God.  He will grant us eyes to see others as He sees them and wisdom to understand how to reach their hearts and give them hope – if we are willing to serve as His agents. Don’t miss the fact that you may be the only person in someone’s life who can tell them the Truth about their design, identity and future instead of simply pointing out the inadequacies and shortcomings that are true of them today. 

Remember too that Jesus continued to love and fellowship with Peter and the other disciples even after they betrayed Him and ran for cover at the crucifixion. So there is no time and no circumstance that makes it okay for us to treat others with anything less than love, acceptance and encouragement. Of course, our human love and capability will never be adequate for this assignment. It is only possible when we abide in Christ and allow His love and grace to pour through us. And that is the very best part.  As we seek Jesus and open ourselves to all the peace, joy and love He has for us, we will be blessed beyond measure. Then and only then will we be able to give away what we have received and hold up a mirror that reveals in others their true identities. So, the next time you see people messing up badly, ask for the eyes of Christ to accurately “size them up.”  Pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom to interact with them as Jesus would. Get ready to be a blessing and to see lives transformed by the powerful, unlimited love of God!

How will you know if you are demonstrating this success factor? You will be someone who:

  • Judges talent by discovering the design of God in that other;
  • Sees others through the eyes of Christ, seeing what is Truth not just what may be true about them;
  • After reasonable exposure, can articulate the strengths of people and leverage them;
  • Declares the present/future to people, declaring who they are becoming, not who they are today.

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

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