Let’s Not Be A They

The other day I read something written to me that, while I understand was meant to encourage me, actually ended up slightly offending me. I was a little taken back at the offense because I’m usually not the type that ends up easily offended. A few days later I heard the exact same thing and all of the sudden, I took up my defense and simultaneously had the sudden revelation of why I was offended in the first place. Thank you, Lord.

 

I was offended because I was being associated with something and defined by something I didn’t want to be known as. It was something I had no control over. There was nothing I could do to create change and while it wasn’t rude, or bad, or even ugly, I just know it’s nothing permanent.

 

I realize I’m being vague but the point is not what I was categorized into, the point is that we do this to people all the time without even realizing what we’re doing.

 

We constantly are associating people with something whether it be their job, their marital status, their gifts, their friends, their family, their finances, their church attendance, their weight, their height, their clothes, and all manner of things I’m not listing. This list is exhaustive.

 

My mind immediately went to Zacchaeus.  (And let me just go ahead and categorize, if you grew up in church, go ahead and sing along with me. “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he…” And seriously, what man wants to be labeled as a wee little man?!)

 

“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

 

Here we learn that Zacchaeus was a tax collector, he was rich, he was small in stature and he was obviously a sinner, so they grumbled because Jesus chose to go stay with a sinner. Gasp!

 

And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” (Luke 19:7) I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a they. Shame on me.

 

I’ve seen Jesus do things for people that I didn’t think they deserved because of this or that, and no doubt, the Lord put me back in my place.

 

But thank you, Lord, for grace and mercy. As one of my favorite authors puts it, “Grace doesn’t seem fair until you need some.” Bob Goff.

 

Last night I got to pray for a girl who confessed to a group of people that she just wants to love people. It was obvious that her heart matched her confession. And that’s what I want, too.

 

Whether it be positive or negative, so often we base our love on the conditional, the seen and the status.

 

I’ve realized in my own life there are two dangers to categorizing.

 

Either they’re better than me or I’m better than them.

 

Admitting that makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little. Gag!

 

When we associate people by being “better” than them, we feel like we have so much to offer that person and try our hardest to mold that person into someone we think they should be. Or, we ignore them because they simply don’t deserve our attention. We don’t give them the time of day because the more “important” people deserve it. It is sickening.

 

The danger in placing people in a category better than us is that instead of seeing and loving them as Jesus sees them, we start acting out of intimidation and performance because we want them to accept us.  We believe they would never accept the real, messy us because certainly he or she never struggles, so we place them on a pedestal and put on a mask.

 

And in both cases, we end up withholding love.

 

In either situation, there is no real relationship. Only pride. And pride keeps people at arms length while humility invites people in.

 

But when we put on lenses to see people by Jesus’ eyes, we remember that we’re no less or more loved than the person standing in front of us. That we ALL fell short of the glory of God and Jesus came to see and to save the lost, which, if you needed a reminder like me, was all of us at one point or another.

 

It’s a reminder that our love for people is no comparison to God’s love for people. Nor do our ideas about someone else determine God’s love for them. Or what He’s doing in them. Or how He wants to use them.

 

I often have to remind myself that if I were in a large group and asked those of us to raise our hands that have ever struggled with any sin, whether it be bitterness, anger, lust, laziness, or addiction, just to name a few, the hands raised would represent two groups of people: those who were raised in church and those who were not, but don’t we categorize people into those two groups? Don’t we assume that churchgoers struggle with less? My point being, we’re all flesh and blood born sinners, churched or not.

 

Lest we forget, church does not cause transformation, only the power of Jesus Christ does. Nor does perfect church attendance equal godliness.

 

But when we greet and see people and honor people with the love of Jesus, despite where they work, what they do, or who they are or who they’re not, or what gifts they’ve been given, we can relate because we’re all just human and we’re all struggle in one way or another. And that alone is comforting.

 

And all of the sudden we realize we’re just one of them, instead of a they.

 

It’s all grace.

 

Dear Lord, help us. Give us eyes to see and hearts to love. In Jesus’ name.

 

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

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44 Responses to “Let’s Not Be A They”

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Comments:

  1. 1

    First of all – I promise it was just last night that I thought about the Zaccheus song and thought “how ridiculous that we call that poor guy a WEE LITTLE MAN?!?!” I mean it is just silly.

    Secondly… girl this GOOD. Never thought of how we categorize people as “I’m better than they are” or “they are better than I am.” Seriously. Whoa.

    Thank you for reminding me to stop. Thank you for speaking truth.

    Love you, sister.

  2. 2
    Ashlie McDonald says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for these truths and encouragement. My heart needed it so much. Loved the quote about grace and the raising hands of sinners. Spoke to me sooo much!!! Praying for you Linds!
    Grace and peace to you sister!
    Ashlie

  3. 3
    Ashley says:

    Really good post! Very encouraging and convicting.

  4. 4
    Kathleen Akridge says:

    You always write wonderful blog entries, but seriously…this is the best one EVER!!
    “…Grace, grace, God’s grace…”
    Thank you, Lindsee for showing us your heart and love for our Lord!
    ;-) <3

  5. 5

    Well said, Lindsee.

    God is really on my heart lately with the difference between encouraging and edifying…and you know what, EDIFYING is what He wants us to do. Not thinking we know better for someone…just know HE already does…If we help others with focus that is kingdom minded…then there is no room for selfish and absorbed sides of us…or aka pride :).

    :) ang

  6. 6
    Lulu says:

    I was thinking something similar the other day. I was talking to a friend from out of town, who happens to also be a psychiatrist, and was sharing how surprised I was hurt by people’s response to an accident I had. Most of these folks were non-Christians, but still people with whom I had long term relationships with. People whose children I babysat; bought myriads of ticket, chocolates and wrapping paper from; helped move; held or attended wedding and baby showers; went out of my way to be light and salt in their lives – yet when I had an accident and ended up loosing so much and was unable to function at the capacity as before – nothing. I was an “inconvenience” now. I didn’t expect the same level of interest and support as I did from family, but negative response?? My friend said, believe it or not, when something bad happens to another person, most people feel that the person experiencing the situation deserves it. They find a way to justify it and twist it to actually make them feel better about themselves. Talk about twisted. How very sad. Yes – there probably is fear in their lives and perhaps a concern that we may expect something from them – but to think the other person deserved it??? (Example: someone just diagnosed with diabetes and on medication. “Hmm… not surprised. I saw her eat a piece of cheesecake at the meeting the other day.”) My friend confirmed this. What a shock. Even though the professional info did nothing to sooth my hurt, it did open my eyes and made me more aware of how I “evaluate” what I hear about others. What do I think when someone’s marriage breaks up? What do I think when someone’s child goes rogue? Do I sit back and feel smug or superior – “saw that coming” – or am I earnestly concerned and loving. Do I stop, as our Lord did with Zacchaeus, and look up and earnestly desire to be with them without judgment? I pray that I never feel anyone deserves the bad things that happen in their lives. God may allow these things for a purpose and His glory, but not for punishment. Thanks for sharing.

    • 6.1
      Donna says:

      Thank you for sharing this conversation with your friend. It kind of helps me understand why some have reacted to me when I lost so much these past few years. It beats you down and makes it difficult to stand on your own feet again. But it also drives you to the Lord. And I sure hope I never hurt anyone as badly….

    • 6.2
      Deborah Mott says:

      Thanks for sharing. Sorry you have been treated that way.
      I find myself being like Jobs’ friends to MYSELF …thinking I am going through this because I DESERVE IT…it is my fault…WRONG thinking but so often what we have been taught at home and by society. Blame is nothing new…started at the fall with Adam and Eve yet it always hurts.

      HIS BLESSINGS to yo: Numbers 6:24-26 (MSG)

      24 God bless you and keep you,
      25 God smile on you and gift you,
      26 God look you full in the face
      and make you prosper

  7. 7
    Lisa Lyall says:

    Thank you Lindsey. This was timely and ministered greatly to my heart.

  8. 8
    Beth Stafford says:

    Amen! Beautiful post. Thank you!

  9. 9
    Lynne says:

    Amen…just Amen!

  10. 10
    Susan says:

    Isn’t it funny how the Lord gives us just what we need, just when we need to hear it?
    Thank you.

  11. 11
    Steph says:

    Lindsee, this is very insightful and it spoke to me deeply. You’ve hit the nail on the head! This is what pride looks like in my life, too. God has been pounding away at me this summer (in His own loving way!) about living a “life of love.” Thank you for taking the time to dissect your thoughts and feelings and then sharing them with us. I will be printing this off and keeping it. Have an awesome weekend!

  12. 12
    Trinna says:

    Lindsee,

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder of God’s grace and how we can live into it. It reminded me of what we’ve been talking about in church lately – Saul’s/Paul’s conversion in Acts 9. Ananias had every reason to hate Saul. Yet, he honored Christ AND Saul by first being obedient to God and THEN addressing Saul as “Brother Saul.” How amazing! Living into grace, for ourselves and others. So difficult and yet so freeing.

  13. 13
    Mickey K says:

    Love this. Thank you, Lindsee. You do have a way with words. :)

  14. 14
    Amanda says:

    AMEN!!!! Beautifully written, and beautifully convicting!!

  15. 15
    Redeemed says:

    This is powerful stuff. I’m currently struggling with some extended family members who are wanting to come for a visit. However, they are pretty detrimental to my marriage and family (a lot of past baggage that they continue to bring up that leaves us reeling after they leave)……..so, how do I show them the love of Jesus without opening my home life to the aftermath of their visit? I realize I am looking at them as a “they”. And sure, my pride is involved.(Ugh.) But there is also the desire to protect my life in Christ, and my marriage and my home.

    Will mull over what you’ve said. I, too, want to love people, and I do. I love these family members. I just don’t love what it does to my life when they are here.

  16. 16
    Ashley says:

    Oh, my goodness. I read with tears in my eyes; and while I want to leave a comment, I’m not sure how to express my thoughts…other than: Thank you, God, that our views/feelings/thoughts of others, and theirs’ of ours don’t determine Your Love for us.

  17. 17
    Tanya says:

    Well written Lindsee–and for one with writers block lately too! :) Good job.

    I think we can ALL relate to this. I have been categorized plenty (and admittedly in anothers shoe’s would have categorized myself…but by that I’ve learned to live before the Lord. Which is a good place to reside)

    To give others the very same grace in the day to day interactions is hard–people are not exactly peaches and cream to work with. I go back to my place of residence–the Lord see’s my heart and so I keep my heart in check or bring it into check. And I pray. It also helps to keep my mouth in check :) Both in the presence of the person that causes the bristle and with others.

    I have been shown such great mercy by the Lord and also by His people who knew me (and nobody knows anyone unless they make an effort to do it)

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.
    Tanya

  18. 18
    Bonnie Palma says:

    What a wonderful reminder, thank you!

  19. 19
    Lorrie says:

    Brilliant! And convicting!

  20. 20
    Colleen says:

    Growing up, my sisters and I developed our own method of catagorizing/judging people: Those who prefer Mayo, and those who prefer Miracle Whip. We made a little study of out of it, and guessed which category a person fell into, just by the way they looked and behaved. We knew who used OUR kind of spread and was therefore, ONE OF US, and we knew who used the other; they were different… in a not so very nice way.

    It’s easy to make judgment calls based on the superficial, whether the standard is “they’re better than me, or I’m better than them” or, they’re mayo users verses Miracle-whippers, or____ fill int he blank. Thankfully, GOD measures us by a different standard…

    “Do not look at his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but The LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

    Thank you for helping us to keep what’s really important front and center. Blessings, C

  21. 21
    Debbie says:

    Lindsee, whst you wrote about pride and how we see others is often true with me- yuk!! I’m with you! I so want to draw close to God and let Him change me, make me less and Him more in my heart – fill me with love for others. So thankful that He is loving and merciful!! Very well put Londsee, I appreciate you!

  22. 22
    Margie says:

    This is soooooooooooooo true, so well put and such a good reminder to keep that instinct in check. God’s mercy is not to be taken lightly….EVER. We ALL needed it and continue to need it every day we breathe in and out until we go to see Him finally! Thank you.

  23. 23
    Donna says:

    Thank you for this post. I know how painful it is to be put into a category that doesn’t apply to you simply because the person saying it usually doesn’t know you. Your post was encouraging

  24. 24
    Tami Walkerl says:

    OUCH! The truth hurts. Now I know that am not the only one. Thank you!

  25. 25
    Shirlea H. Caswell says:

    Precious Lindsee,

    Your post has again touched me. No matter where we are in our walk with Christ, and no matter our age, this message from you is profound. I continue to pray for this ministry, for you, for Beth, and the entire team. To God be the glory!!

  26. 26
    Deborah Mott says:

    Glad for the honesty. I think what you wrote is true. Most people in church do not, from my experience and in my opinion, truly LIVE THE TRUE GOSPEL OF GRACE based solely on the WORK Of JESUS CHRIST. If we did we would see ALL ground is level at the cross, we would be incredibly joyful at the TRUTH we are forgiven, clean and LOVED with the most amazing LOVE ever and we would excitedly and passionately live REV 12:11 with a URGENCY and prayerfulness and priority for the LOST…plus many other characteristics of a REDEEMED LIFE OF GRACE would be obvious… and revival would break out! I know it has taken me my whole life (54) til the last year or so to really LIVE the GOSPEL to myself and toward others! I lived more “Church” and religion and works and had mask after mask and performance after performance for LOVE. Performance based love is was how I did life. NO MORE! Praise JESUS. I believe that Rev 12:11 is the way GOD has given us to OVERCOME and we do not do it because of PRIDE, fear, not living the true GOSPEL(much of what you wrote about.. the DIVISIONS and attitudes…) and surely other factors…. Until the “Churched” learn this we will not be evangelizing the “unchurched” very effectively because they feel our self righteous judgements and snide, poorly disguised, attitudes! As I have been obedient to the LORD and asked Him to lead the way for me to live Rev 12:11 at church, I have been treated as a “LESSER” and have been so wounded by the “churched” that I almost have given up attending church altogether!(I have been going to church most every Sunday since my birth!) Like Paul, I feel I was almost beaten to death by my countrymen (‘churched”). I came to Texas in February to be ministered to and in a way to see if LPM would treat me as the rest of “church” had. PRAISE the LORD I was mostly felt received by your staff. I would have loved to have talked in person to a group of you because I was HURTING SO BAD and needed a true BODY of believers to ACCEPT me in the authentic place JESUS has! I spoke to Diane and she was kind and accepted me and that helped me tremendously!

    Churched are no different than unchurched in our sinfulness ability. Unchurched freely admit their sin and many times never were taught things they needed like the churched and often did not have a good example in their lives at all. The churched, despite knowing, having good examples-sometimes, still chose to do what they wanted and typically hid the fact of their sins and played church for years with themselves and their masked community of “religious”. I lived this too many years. It gags me to think how I offended JESUS acting as though I was better than I was/am to myself and others and working to clean myself up instead of boasting on HIS WORK and the GREAT SALVATION HE WROUGHT FOR ME and the great transformations HE BRINGS in the HEART and outward! GRACE is GREAT sometimes I wonder if it takes more GRACE for JESUS to handle the Pharisee in me than it has the tax collector in me. I sure was full of myself as a Pharisee and thought I was pretty good. I see myself more as the tax collector in my true heart and in the flesh I have lived the Pharisee lifestyle to try and balance the scales. Never worked. Jesus’s DEATH and RESURRECTION is the only way to REVERSE THE FALL…and bring true life! Let us be about boasting on JESUS as Paul did! The GOSPEL IS THE BEST GIFT ON EARTH…may we live HIS GRACE and MERCY OUT to ourselves and the perishing! GRACE is the KEY, THE HOLY SPIRIT REIGNS SO FREELY WHEN IT IS ALL ABOUT JESUS! MAY THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS BE WITH US ALL! Thanks for the post Lindsee. I hope one of these times you will respond to me. I write on here all the time. Sometimes I feel I am wasting my time. I pray not.

  27. 27
    Sandra says:

    Amen! Great post

  28. 28
    Sharon J. says:

    Hi Lindsee
    Wow! I have done this and have had this happen to me too. What a great reminder of God’s grace, without it I’m toast! I have put people in these boxes and categories Lord forgive me! That I would see people not by what they have or don’t have… who they are or who they aren’t. … but through my Savior’s eyes… loving them where they are …. regardless of what box they may have tried to place me in. God is so good! Thank you for blessing me with this Word!
    Love and God’s Blessings on you sweet one!
    Sharon

  29. 29
    Tiffany says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing.

  30. 30
    Leticia says:

    Thank you so much for your transparency! I appreciate and love how you love us siesta’s! God bless you!

  31. 31
    Evie says:

    Amen sister may God forgive me for being a “they”. Creat a clean heart and steadfast spirit in me Lord I pray in the name of Jesus.

  32. 32
    Darla says:

    Wow….Lindsee you have wisdom….great wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing. This is very powerful :-D

  33. 33
    Betty M says:

    Dear Lindsee,
    It seems those of us in th echurch are the worst for comparison evaluation etc. If I percieve I am better than them then I snub them but if they are better than me then I try and win thier affection. Somehow then I will feel accepted.
    Actually sometimes what we perceive as being unacceptance within the church is that the churched do not know you. When someone strange comes to a smaller church they probably get longer than usual stares but usually people are trying to figure out where they are from etc. Alot of times people are shy and are not the most outgoing so it takes time. I would worry less about being accepted by a certain crowd than I would that the Lord accepts me which He always does so whether or not the rest of the world does or does not should not really affect me.
    Epecially as women we are critical of others I have to check myself all the time but just remembering who we are in Christ should put us at peace.
    Hugs,
    Betty

  34. 34
    Kendra says:

    As always, good word Lindsee Lou! Thank you for this — and yes, Lord, PLEASE give us eyes to see and hearts to love, by your grace! Oh man, how far I have to go!!

  35. 35
    Mary Ann says:

    Wow so needed to hear this right now. So validating.
    Thanks so much for the reminder.

  36. 36
    Hope says:

    Hi everyone! My name is Hope and I am 14 and a half years old. My older sister is a Siesta and now I want to join the club too. I’m so glad to find a blog where the people love God and are nice to each other. I had a bad experience with another blog where people were mean to me, but I’m really excited to be a part of this blog! This is awesome!!

  37. 37
    Michelle says:

    I so love this and also going to church does not cause transformation, but Jesus does. Awesome!

  38. 38
    Anne says:

    Powerful and convicting post. Definitely one I will print out to remind me and keep me on my knees so I will not be a “they” again.

  39. 39
    katiegfromtennessee says:

    Powerful post, Lindsee.

  40. 40
    Mary Lou says:

    What a beautiful post! I pray that God will help me to see others as He sees them and that I will, as I read this morning, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,”. Lord, help me to avoid categories and labels and to remember that we are all sinners in need of your grace and salvation.

  41. 41
    Anna Palacio says:

    This is a really good article…I enjoyed reading it.