How do you view people? Do you see them through eyes of criticism, judgment, envy, expecting the worst? Or do you see them through the lens of Scripture, of God’s love, and His compassion.
I used to struggle so much with seeing others through a lens of envy. It took many years, during which the Lord was working seemingly full time on my heart, to free me of that sinful mindset. And while my flesh may default to that lens at times, I am so grateful to Him for teaching me to look at the people He brings into my life through His beautiful eyes.
There’s no greater place than God’s Word to receive a clear picture of the way He desires for us to view other people.
One of the most amazing examples in all of Scripture of how to live is that of the apostle Paul. This chosen one of God endured trials and hardships greater than you or I will ever know, and yet His gaze was continuously fixed on the Lord, and his adherence to the Truth while loving others was unchanging. He’s definitely one of the first people I will be looking out for when I finish this race and reach Heaven!
Our dear brother, Paul, was imprisoned for his faith. He could have rotted away in bitterness, anger, and resentment at the unjust treatment he was receiving. But instead, he thought of others. Others far away – in Philippi.
Delving into Philippians 1:3-8 we can clearly observe 5 perspectives to change your attitude towards fellow believers forever!
1. Think and Thank
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…
Whenever Paul thought of the saints in Philippi, he thanked God for them! Wouldn’t our thoughts of others be transformed from negative to positive almost immediately if we thanked God for people every time we thought of them?
Go ahead! Try it out… think of three people who come to your mind right now. As they enter your thoughts, stop for a moment, and genuinely thank God for that person – whether you’re having a hard time with them, or whether they are at the top of your “lovable people” list, take a moment to give thanks to your God for who they are to you.
Just to mention, it’s not necessary, or realistic, to stop for a 10-minute prayer of thanks every time you think of someone. But…You can discipline yourself to remember others with an attitude of gratitude Click To Tweet
…with a quick word of praise for them to the Father. In doing so, you will always see them in a God-honouring way.
Paul gave us a great starter in knowing how to view people through the eyeglass of God’s vision by modeling thanking God for them when we think of them.
2. Pleasure and Prayer
Always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy…
Paul prayed for the Philippians. Whenever he prayed, he mentioned them to the Lord. And did he do it out of obligation or drudgery because he felt it was expected of him? No! Paul prayed for the Philippians with a joy-filled heart, fervent prayers, and thanksgiving!
The incredible thing is that at Philippi, Paul was grossly mistreated, severely beaten and placed in chains, and yet he remembers Philippi with joy. He didn’t allow the circumstances to affect the way he thought of those connected with them.
I wonder how many of us can remove feelings of hurt, pain, and injustice done towards us, and pray with sincere joy for those who remind of us of those hardships.
Joyfully praying for others, no matter our memories, mindset or mood is an achievement worth attaining, and one that no doubt will greatly influence our perception of the people God has placed in our lives.
3. Confident to Complete
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
As Paul thanked God for the Philippian congregation, and as he prayed with full joy for them, his confidence soared. He encouraged himself and the recipients of his beautiful words that the One who began a good work in them, would be faithful to bring it to completion!
I’ve always, always, always, taken this scripture as an exhortation to myself. Knowing my own sin and shortcomings, it was a blessing to read time and time again that God will be chipping away at me over the course of this lifetime until I am brought to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
But think of this verse in context of how we view other people. When we find those people we interact with daily difficult to deal with, or when we see qualities in others that are disconcerting, we, like Paul, can know with confidence, that the God who has begun a good work in them, will bring it to completion.
And here’s the hard part – we need to…Be patient with others, as they are a work in progress, inasmuch as we are ourselves! Click To Tweet
They are on their way to perfection, and we need to be long-suffering while they are en-route.
How this very truth revolutionizes our entire attitude towards others and elevates it to a holy view!
4. Partaking and Passion
It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
If you want to change your attitude towards your fellow-believers, and truly love them with holy affection, you need to actively and intentionally consider them as partakers with you of grace. You may not share many mutual interests with the lady who sits behind you in the pew this Sunday, or with the cashier at the supermarket down the road, but if you are both Bible-believing followers of the Lord, then you will always have at least one thing in common – you are both partakers of God’s grace – and that is pretty strong ground to stand on!
Something to note is that one of reason Paul referred to the Philippians as partakers with him of God’s grace, was that they were supporting him financially (“in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel”). Not many of us are devoting our lives full time in sharing His salvation message, but when we give of our resources to those near and far who are doing so, we are partaking with those recipients in God’s grace, being used of the Lord to further His Kingdom.
Consciously knowing we are a fellow-partaker of God’s grace connects us to other believers at a deeper level, and partnering financially with those who are sent out as workers in the massive harvest of this world to share the Gospel tweaks yet another perspective of our love towards others.
5. Long and Love
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Yearn for others with “the affection of Christ Jesus.” Yearn for others to grow in their faith, to walk in the Truth, to “be rooted and grounded in love, having strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
Paul did! And while we know that because we read his account in our Bibles, “God was His witness.” This man had an attitude toward people that was contagious, inspiring, and refreshing.
When you long for others to grow in their faith, live abundantly, and walk the narrow path faithfully, with sincere love and affection, your attitude towards them will change considerably for the better. Guaranteed :-).
My friend, attaining this stance towards people we come face to face with, and those from afar, is not impossible. It is not out of reach.
Wouldn’t you like to be known for someone who views others in this way? What a change there would be in the Body of our Messiah if more were. Let it begin with you, and with me.
Let us give thanks to God for the people we interact with, praying joyfully for them, being patient with them while they are being perfected, and standing alongside them with the greatest of holy affection as fellow partakers of His grace.
Be encouraged, and be radical!
Which of the above perspectives do you feel you need to work on in your life?