Seeing the best in others

Written by Schalk_and_Elsa on. Posted in Training in righteousness

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LookingIt is important how we see people, for this will determine how we act towards them. I once heard a little story about a man whose car broke down in a rural area. As he was walking to the nearest house, which was almost a kilometer away, he was wondering if this farmer would help him by lending him a tool to fix his car. As he continued on, he convinced himself that this farmer would probably not want to help him. So much so, that when the farmer opened the door, he did not even ask for the tool, but instead shouted at him that he can keep his stupid tool.

I can relate to this, maybe you can too? We assume things about other people, often the worst. Instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt, we react based on what we have made up in our minds about them. We don’t even attempt to find the truth. These assumptions are often born out of our own insecurities and fear of rejection. We could also have too high expectations of others. Then, if our expectations are not met, we may react quite harshly out of disappointment. This is once again a reaction as a result of a wrong perception or assumption.

This assumption thing ruins relationships. Maybe we can ease off those assumptions and communicate more.

Communication

We don’t know everything about others, it would therefore be unfair to assume things about other people. It is actually very immature to do so. Our perspective is not necessarily the truth. Say, for example, a friend has not responded to an e-mail you send them. What do you do? Do you feel rejected, take offense and terminate the relationship, or do you send a kind reminder? How we behave is our choice. Also, how we behave shows our love, respect and level of maturity.

If we love like we were commanded to do, we will act differently.

Love

1 Corinthians 13 is probably one of the most quoted passages on love.

1 Corinthians 13:4–7
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

There is so much said with these few words. Here is David Stern’s commentary on this passage:

This description of love is not of its outward manifestations but of its inward properties. Sha’ul does not, however, define love as inward feelings, because love must act (1 Yn 2:5–4:21)—faith works itself out in love (Ga 5:6). It is precisely because love produces deeds that it fulfills the Torah (Ro 13:8–10&N). 2

Love is a manifestation of our faith.This is absolutely in line with what YHVH said in Leviticus 19:18 and Deut 6:5. Y’shua also quoted these words in Matthew 22.

Matthew 22:37–40
37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Another useful passage is Phillipians 2:3.

Philippians 2:3
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Love is to regard others as more important than ourselves and when we do, we will be patient, and we will be kind. We will not act arrogantly, will not act unbecomingly, will not seek our own, will not be provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

We need to filter all our actions through this filter and if it comes through, it is done out of love. If not, we will know our behavior is wrong and will need to change it.

This is where self-control comes in again. This filter process is the guard we should have before we say or do anything. We need to get to a point where we wait and think before we speak or do. We have written about Self-discipline and Self-control previously. The lack of self-control affects every facet of our lives. A wrong word or action can have so many negative consequences. We all have experience in this. I probably more than most, I tend to jump to conclusions and say or act upon those very quickly.

It will happen that people wrong us, and we will do the same; we are all human and make mistakes. The question is how do we respond when it happens. Every experience we have can be regarded as a growth experience. Sometimes we will have victory, but other times we might fall, the same is true for everybody, and when we do, we must forgive or ask forgiveness.

Forgiveness

When we are wronged, we can either take offence, get angry or we can give the other person the benefit of the doubt by thinking that they may have had a reason for acting the way they did or have made a mistake and forgive them. This is not easy to do, but we must put our own feelings and perceptions on the side and try to see things through their eyes.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

This was quoted from Proverbs

Proverbs 10:12
12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

To cover sin or transgressions is to forgive, but also to conceal the matter. When we forgive, we are to forgive completely and not go and tell everybody about it. That would make reconciliation very difficult, even impossible.

Proverbs 17:9
9 He who conceals a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.

If you want to read more about forgiveness, you can read the article Why we are to forgive. In this article, we go into more detail as to why it is beneficial for us to forgive. Did you know that unforgiveness affects our health?

The bottom line really is that we are to treat others the way we would like to be treated.

Matthew 7:12
12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Here is some advice form the Apostle Paul:

Ephesians 4:31–32
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as Elohim in Messiah also has forgiven you.

We are to put away bitterness, wrath, anger, shouting, slander and hostility and instead be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving. If we were, our relationships would flourish. The question is why would we want to do this? In order to understand why we would want to do this, we need to understand a bit more about YHVH’s nature as we are to imitate Him.

Ephesians 5:1
1 Therefore be imitators of Elohim, as beloved children;

Matthew 5:48
48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Luke 6:36
36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Ephesians 4:32
32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as Elohim in Messiah also has forgiven you.

Now that we understand that we are to imitate YHVH, we need to know what His nature is like. We as human beings do not have the ability to fully understand the nature of YHVH, but He has revealed some of it through His Word. Here is a glimpse of YHVH’s nature.

The nature of YHVH

Moses asked to see YHVH’s glory

Exodus 33:18
18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”

When we think of the word glory, we often think about splendour or status, but did you know that this word also means “inner person“?

3883 I. כָּבוֹד (kā·ḇôḏ): n.masc.; ≡ Str 3519; TWOT 943d, 943e—1. LN 87.4–87.18 glory, splendor (Jos 7:19); 2. LN 87.4–87.18 honor, respect, i.e., the attribution of high status to a person (Ge 45:13; Pr 11:16); 3. LN 57.25–57.35 wealth, i.e., what is valued and abundant (Ge 31:1; Na 2:10[EB 9]); 4. LN 76 manifestation of power, formally, glory (Ex 16:7; Nu 14:22); 5. LN 85.1–85.31 glorious presence, formally, glory (Ex 29:43; 1Sa 4:21); 6. LN 57.71–57.124 reward, i.e., giving of a gift (Nu 24:11); 7. LN 57.25–57.35 unit: עֹשֶׁר כָּבוֹד (ʿō·šěr kā·ḇôḏ)1 vast wealth, formally, wealth of riches, i.e., very extensive wealth and possessions (Est 1:4); 8. LN 26 person, self, formally, glory, i.e., the self or inner person (Ps 16:9; 30:13[EB 12] 3

This is so amazing! When we read what follows, we see that YHVH indeed revealed His inner person or essence to Moses.

Exodus 34:6–7
6 Then YHVH passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “YHVH, YHVH Elohim, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

A few things are revealed about YHVH’s character, He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth and forgiving. He is also just, He will not leave the guilty unpunished. These words are often repeated in Scripture . Here are a few more references: Num 14:18; Deut 4:31; Neh 9:17; Ps 86:15; 103:8; 108:4; 145:8; Joel 2:13.

For us to endeavor to imitate these character traits, we need to understand what is meant by each of these words.

Compassionate

רַחוּם: = raḥḥūm; רחם, Bauer-L. Heb. 480s; SamP. rēʾom; MHeb. DSS (Kuhn Konkordanz 204: 1QH 16:16); cf. Arb. raʾima to love tenderly, be very fond of, fondle, caress 4

Gracious

2843 חַנּוּן (ḥǎn·nûn): adj.; ≡ Str 2587; TWOT 694d—LN 88.75–88.82 gracious, compassionate, i.e., pertaining to being merciful to the needy and repentant (Ex 22:26[EB 27]; 34:6; 2Ch 30:9; Ne 9:17, 31; Ps 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; 116:5; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jnh 4:2+) 3

 

Slow to anger

This phrase speaks for itself, but did you know that “slow to anger” is literally translated as “long of nose”

In anger there is heavy breathing through the nose and a fire burns inside Dt 3222, which is why the nose becomes the organ symbolic of anger 4

 

Lovingkindness

2876 II. חֶסֶד (ḥě·sěḏ): n.masc.; ≡ Str 2617; TWOT 698a—1. LN 25.33–25.58 loyal love, unfailing kindness, devotion, i.e., a love or affection that is steadfast based on a prior relationship (Ex 34:6, 7); 2. LN 79.9–79.17 glory, i.e., lovely appearance (Isa 40:6); 3. LN 88.66–88.74 favor, i.e., the giving benefits (Est 2:9), note: for another interp in Ps 52:3[EB 1], see 2875 3

 

Truth

622 אֱמֶת (ʾěměṯ): n.fem.; ≡ Str 571; TWOT 116k—1. LN 31.82–31.101 faithfulness, reliability, trustworthiness, i.e., a state or condition of being dependable and loyal to a person or standard (Ge 24:27); 2. LN 72.1–72.11 true, certain, sure, i.e., that which conforms to reality, and is so certain not to be false (Dt 13:15), see also domain LN 70; 3. LN 88.39–88.45 honesty, integrity, i.e., be in a state or condition of telling the truth, and living according to a moral standard (Ne 7:2); 4. LN 33.35–33.68 unit: כְּתָב אֱמֶת (keṯāḇ ʾěměṯ) a reliable book, formally, Book of Truth, i.e., a writing in a heavenly scroll giving details of future things, with a focus on both certainty and reliability (Da 10:21+); 5. LN 67.78–67.117 lasting, enduring, i.e., a duration of time, without reference to other points of time (Jer 14:13) 3

When we look at the meaning of each of these words, we learn so much about the essence of YHVH and His incredible love for us. Every meaning opens up so much more of YHVH’s character and still this is only a glimpse of who YHVH really is. It also gives us an idea of how YHVH sees us. He loves us tenderly, He is merciful, patient, unfailing and reliable.

YHVH is with us all the time… Psalm 139 reveals to us just how much YHVH is involved in our lives.

Psalm 139:13–18
13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O Elohim! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

Verse 17 is quite interesting. Although YHVH is not a human with human thoughts, it is written that He thinks about us, the sum of it would outnumber the sand. What could this mean? If we love somebody, this person is constantly in our thoughts and I think that this is what is being communicated here. YHVH loves us so much, that it can be compared to having a loved one always in our thoughts.

We see this idea in Psalm 40 as well.

Psalm 40:5
5 Many, O YHVH my Elohim, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.

YHVH is perfect, He is set apart and His love for us is endless. If we endeavor to imitate Him like we are taught to do, we would be more loving, more patient, more forgiving towards others. We are to see people through YHVH’s eyes, see them as someone who dearly loves them and this will shape our actions towards them. This is what it means to be the light Y’shua said we are to be. Contemplate this idea.

Conclusion

If we can comprehend just how much YHVH loves us, and that we are to imitate Him, we would act differently towards other people. It is easy to love someone who is good to us, but can we express the same love to someone who hurt us? We are to be patient and kind and forgiving, giving those who wrong or hurt us the benefit of the doubt. This is not an easy task, because we are important to ourselves and when we are hurt, we want retribution for that hurt. We want to deal with it. YHVH said “vengeance is Mine” (Deut 32:35)and Y’shua said “Turn the other cheek” (Matt 5:39) and “you are a light to the world (Matt 5:14).”

If we want to live this, we need to learn not to jump to conclusions every time things are not according to how we thought it should have been. We need to communicate and seek for the truth before we act. Every action starts with a thought. When we control our thoughts, our actions will be under control.

Romans 12:9–21
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving YHVH; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of Elohim, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says YHVH. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

References

  1. All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus.
  2. Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : a companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed., 1 Co 13:4). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.
  3. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  4. Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M. E. ., & Stamm, J. J. (1999). The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 1214). Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill.
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