1JN 4:21 ESV
And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
It can be a challenge to love someone if we let ourselves confuse the things they might do with the person they are.
But if we seek mercy for the things we have done, if we see ourselves as separate from those things that we’ve done – how can we look at the two as being the same in other people?
Let’s remember that evil is a trickster, and it is great at twisting things around in our heads, and is great at pushing us to make poor assumptions about others purely based on what is visible on the outside. Evil is a liar, and a good one at that.
Evil wants us to see people’s actions and judge their hearts – because that is what evil does, it judges and accuses and condemns.
I’m not saying that we deny that there is a right and wrong. I’m also not saying that we deny consequences and discipline and punishment. But what I am saying is that it is more important to see that outwardly visible fruits, or outwardly visible desires of the flesh – they are an indicator of health or sickness, but they aren’t the be all tell all guide to judging someone’s heart.
So if I know someone is in sin, I can find a gentle and loving way to encourage them in how that might be a danger for them – and no, I don’t have to be lazy and always use the same old attack of, “You’re going to hell!” because there are much more effective and loving ways to share the message of the Good News. I don’t want to kick a man when he is down, or place an additional stumbling block in the way of someone that is trying – I need to help and encourage.
So the approach that I try to stay mindful of is that we are each either freed, or we are trapped. The enemy is not the person in front of me, even if they are trapped in their love of the world and the desires of the flesh.
So I try to focus on fighting the true enemy, not wreaking havoc with the collateral damage of attacking men and women of flesh and blood. We need to see past the people to the true enemy, the evil in their lives that is using them and hurting them. I try to see the lost as victims, not as enemies.
This perspective helps me.
And it is how I can say with confidence, that I love you, friend!