“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8 KJV
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” 1 Corinthians 3:19 KJV
God’s ways and the ways of the world are two opposing systems of thought (or belief). We cannot expect to enjoy the abundant life and the fruitfulness of having a relationship with God while we’re operating within the world’s system of belief. The way that we think and believe in our hearts will determine our experience in life (Proverbs 23:7). If we’re operating in the world’s system of belief we will experience the results that the world experiences, but if we’re living in God’s system of belief we’ll experience the abundant life that Jesus has for us. With regard to relationships the world has a specific way of doing things – but in the Bible we see that God’s way of relating to others is almost the opposite of the world’s. The world promotes the idea (sometimes too subtly to detect) that: “I am the most important person in the universe”. This underlying belief would cause people to instinctively always put themselves first – it’s narcissism and self-centredness. God’s ways are the opposite.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 NLT
We should definitely have a healthy view of ourselves, but the Biblical approach to relating to others is to not be selfish, to be humble and to consider others as more important than ourselves. The world is trying to get people to like them; they do many things to try and impress people. This is actually just self-centred. You don’t try to impress people for their benefit – you do it for your own benefit. You want them to like you. We’re called to be a blessing to others, and as long as we’re trying to impress others or win their acceptance, we cannot bless them.
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you… But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same… Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Matthew 6:27-28, 32-33, 36 NKJV
You definitely won’t get this kind of advice from the world. I doubt any psychologist will tell you to love those who hate you, and seek to bless people when they treat you badly. But Jesus encourages us to be like our Father and treat people better than they deserve; don’t give them “what’s coming to them” but rather see the value that God has in them and seek to be a blessing to them. God’s way of relating to others is far from the world’s ways.
The way that you treat others is usually directly related to the way that you believe God is treating you. People who are judgmental and condemning towards others usually believe that God is too. They usually believe that God is relating to us based on our performance and as a result they are very legalistic when it comes to performance in others (more than in themselves). They have high standards and an unrealistic expectation of people, which drive the people around them nuts.
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47 (ESV)
When you know how much you are forgiven by God and how much He loves you, then you will overflow in love towards others. It’s a legalistic and usually fruitless exercise to try and love others. I am not telling you to do that. I am telling you that if you focus on God’s unconditional love and grace for you, then it will naturally start to overflow in love and grace towards those around you. You cannot give what you do not have. Receive His love and grace, and allow it to overflow in your life towards those around you.
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