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Tough Love

The truth about sizing up people

Recently I read a statistic that fascinated me. It said that within seven seconds of meeting someone, we've already determined whether or not we're going to let that person into our life. Seven seconds!

In that short amount of time, we base our decision on many factors: gender, age, skin color, clothing style, facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact. No wonder human beings have such a difficult time getting along with each other! All these things are superficial; they don't say a thing about whom God created us to be.

I can't tell anything about someone's heart by looking at her hair. Yet, all too often that's all I look at when I "size up" someone. It's easy to judge others based on these insignificant issues, forming negative opinions if someone doesn't look, sound, shake hands, or think the way I do.

But recently I read 1 John 4, and verse 20 struck me: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen" (emphasis added).

Did you notice it doesn't say "may not," "perhaps not," or even "possibly not"? It says we cannot love God if we harbor bad feelings toward others. That's tough stuff!

I heard a pastor say the reason it's difficult to get along with each other is because we meet people in the flesh. But the fact is, we're more than flesh—we're spiritual beings, too. Our God-given gifts, character, values, intellect, and passions are the foundation of who we are—not our height, weight, mannerisms, hair color, age, or fashion sense.

I'm trying to look at people—short or tall, black or white, gray or blond—the way God looks at them. But that's only doable when I'm aware of my Creator's unconditional love for me. While I may not like someone's attitudes or actions, when I see her through Jesus' eyes, I'm reminded that she's fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

When we realize God loves us despite the fact he doesn't like some of our attitudes or actions either, it becomes easier to love. When we realize our negative feelings toward others only get in the way of our love for God, it becomes easier to love. And when we're in close communication with our Creator, asking him to give us his eyes and heart toward others, it becomes easier to love.

It may never be easy to love certain people, but when we decide to obey God and make the tough choice to love others anyway, the rewards are well worth it.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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