Mark 10:21--'Jesus, looking at him, loved him.'
He knew all that was in that heart. He saw clearly the pride and complacency, the underlying streak of materialism, even as He saw the urge to live a pure and blameless life, the vague but urgent desire to know God.
Christ's love for the eager young ruler has always been what struck me most about this one incident in His life, as recorded in the book of Mark. Even at the very moment when the young ruler seemed to have failed the test, so to speak--at the very point he clearly demonstrated that his heart was given to idols.
Jesus did not push him to make a decision, guilt-trip or pressurise him. Jesus did not condemn him or fling up his hands in dramatic despair. He knew that this was much more than the physical, external act of getting him to sell all he had and give to the poor, even of following Him. This was a battle of the heart first and foremost, a heart which needed to be won and transformed and given willingly through love, not about impressive charity stunts and dramatic life turnarounds.
This love, I believe, was what enabled the young ruler to understand, and more importantly, accept when Jesus told him--gently--but poignantly, probingly--'One thing still you lack...'
John Freeman's wise words brought this part of the Bible to my mind:
When we reduce people to their sin or rebellion, we often react out of a deep motivation to set things right because our own sensibilities are affected.
If, like Jesus, we stop focusing on the sin in other people's lives which we want to see changed, rather than how as a person, as a soul, they need Christ, our response to them, no matter how well intentioned, will not end up being helpful. Judgy. Pushy. Condescending. Those adjectives are ones which Christians should pray that by God's grace they manage to avoid. If, like Jesus, we learn to love them, not because they fit our idea of what they should be like, or make the choices we think they should, even and especially when they don't, our attempt to help them and to share truth with them will not be pushed away or dismissed, even when they don't agree.
How do we love them?
Resisting the urge to add, 'Let me count the ways'--John Freeman also noted that In loving by listening, we learn much more about people and discover why they have sought after other gods.
Loving by listening is one of the simplest, yet most underestimated ways of showing love to someone, in our culture today where we're programmed to be visual, to be instant, to not waste a second, and most of all to proclaim and focus on our own opinions and feelings--as discussed here.
Too often, I make the same mistake. Unlike Christ, there are times when I look at someone and see only the sin in their life or the obstacle keeping them from grace, and forget to love them. I forget that as an imitator of Christ--who loved us first before He died for us--love comes first.
Sometimes, that means I need to listen patiently, humbly, to things I don't agree with, or things I think I already understand. Sometimes that means I need to just listen instead of thinking I have to always give advice or provide a different view. When we know their stories, when we understand what is important to them and what they believe can make them whole, and why, we see them with the same grace-filled love that looked out of Christ's eyes when He spoke to that young ruler.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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