walking in grace

Hand Over the Paint Brushes!

When each of our daughters was about 5 years old, we had her caricature painted at whichever theme park was our vacation destination that year. And because some destinations proved to be better than others, some hired, yet starving artists were more talented than others. And that resulted in some of the caricatures being much better art than others. That reality in itself, has been a sore spot in our family. More so for some than others. But with maturity on our side, the less than perfect renderings have been forgiven. Even embraced. Yay for small victories!

In each rendering of my little darlings, as caricatures do so well, one or two characteristics were highlighted. Perhaps even overplayed. Enduring freckles. Big blue eyes. Unruly hair. Contagious smiles. All accurate for my little girls. For those moments in time.

But while those precious and unmistakable features were emphasized, others were minimized. Disregarded. Snubbed. Because that’s exactly what caricatures do.

Too often I am guilty of caricaturing others.

Exaggerating one quality over another. I let the first thing I see be the most important thing I see. And though it may be the most obvious, it is usually not the most essential. Rarely is it the most essential.

I suspect I am not alone in this.

It is too easy to caricature. Exaggerating requires no restraint. It begs me to judge. To dismiss pertinent information. It directs me to draw a line and dares me to cross over. But this unhealthy habit gives me undeserved permission to construct poorly informed views about others. It summons my pride and its prejudice.

I suppose this is my weekly confession. But I hope it is more than that. I want to encourage you and me, all of us, to see people differently. To see people, not traits. To see the whole of them, image-bearers of the One Who Created them. Having dignity. Significance.

I want to challenge us to see others as worthy of love. God’s love. And our love.

If loving others as I love myself is the second greatest commandment, and Jesus said it is, (right here) I must ask the question: What does love require of me?1

  • When I am tempted to dismiss someone, what does love require of me?
  • When my gut reaction is to judge someone, what does love require of me?
  • When someone offends me, what does love require of me?
  • When someone’s need inconveniences me, what does love require of me? (My neighborhood kids knocked on my door seven times while I have been trying to finish this post!)
  •  When I don’t agree with someone, what does love require of me?

I have asked that question many times over the last few years. The answer? Much. The answer boils down to the fact that love requires much of me!

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  

ROMANS 13:8

If every other law hinges upon my love for God and my love for others, I have to get this love thing right. I know love is patient…persevering. I know it is kind…gentle, easy, benevolent. It doesn’t envy. It does not boast. It is not arrogant. It doesn’t keep a tally of wrongs. It doesn’t demand its own way. It rejoices in truth.

None of that is me!

The only way for me to experience that kind of love is to abide in the One who is ALL of that. The only way for me to give that kind of love is to remain in the One who is that kind of love. I can love others only to the degree to which I have experienced love. And experiencing that kind of love requires me to surrender every little bit of me to Jesus.

I know. Surrendering feels like losing. But surrendering to Jesus is the only way to win. The only way for Love to win.

And surrendering the paint brush is a good place to start!

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

GALATIANS 5:6

1 Andy Stanley Sermon Series, What Does Love Require of Me?, 2015

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