Christian Living, Mothering, Perspective

Labels: God’s View vs Man’s View

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We had a conversation around the breakfast table this morning, my boys and me. In response to reading a devotion together, one of the boys talked about how all the popular kids were having sex (this is junior high, mind you), and doing drugs, and drinking.

I asked him if he liked it when other kids made sweeping generalizations about him and his friends. If they slapped labels on him because he does this, or doesn’t do that. He stopped.

“No.”

“Then let’s be careful what labels we place on others.” I felt so right saying those words.

 

But now, I’m thinking. How many times, have I viewed people only through their outward appearance, or the people they hang around with? How many times have I labeled them in my self-righteous little brain?

I’m getting better about not doing this, but fact is? I still catch myself labeling someone based on how they look. What I see them doing.

 

No one likes to be labeled.

What we see of others is so limited. And yet, we make judgments based only on the surface of a person.

I’m convicted because, though I didn’t confess to my son, I am still, sometimes, a label-slapper. My own smallness feels a little bit taller when I can label another person. Especially if I look better in my own eyes.

 

2 Cor 5:16—“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

I read this verse in my quiet time, and it stopped me.
“What is a worldly point of view, Lord?” A commentary on this verse enlightened and convicted me.

 

The worldly point of view is, in essence, the outward distinctions. Jew, Gentile. Learned, unlearned. Rich, poor.

Or, through modern-day eyes—pretty, ugly. Successful, loser. Wealthy, homeless. And all the thoughts that follow with these labels.

The writer of the commentary said we are to view people in the “higher life of those who are dead in Christ’s death, and alive in Him in the new life of His resurrection.” (

 

What if we viewed people, not for the outward image they portray to the world, but from a standpoint of faith? What if we could view people as either they are alive in Christ, or they are dead in Christ?

What if what they wear, how they talk, how they act didn’t matter so much in our minds? What if we could see either a fellow brother or sister, or someone who needs the hope that only Jesus can offer?

 

What if we could see a person as one who needs Jesus and in turn, show them love as Jesus does?

Instead, I (may I say WE?) need to stop placing labels on others. We need to ask Jesus to give us His eyes through which to view others. He sees hearts we cannot glimpse into.

He sees the hurts that have formed the person. But He also sees the completed work they will one day be.

 

Maybe we can begin to ask Jesus to help us see others through His eyes rather than through eyes of cynicism or judgment.

May each of us see beyond the surface of a person and show them love, regardless of what we think we know.

What about you? How do you avoid judging others based on appearances? When have you seen God’s grace shine in your life?

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24 thoughts on “Labels: God’s View vs Man’s View”

  1. Great post, Jeanne, and stunning graphics.

    I’ve had to learn not to judge myself on appearance and abilities. It’s been tough; I always thought I could somehow escape physical infirmity. Yeah, go figure.

    But I have learned that the mirror lies, and that when abilities are matched against limitations, a modest success today may far outshine any yesterday.

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    1. Andrew, you bring up a good point. We need to not judge others, and we need to not judge ourselves. It’s too easy to see our perceived “lack” and base everything we think about ourselves on that. I imagine when we’re younger (and not so young) and strong and able to do about anything we set our minds to. We think we’re invincible, or at least I did. God has a way of reminding us we are not all that, and that we need Him. Since He’s the only One who can help us through everything we face in this life, I find reassurance in knowing He is there for me and He does help me, as he does you.

      Okay, I got to rambling. Sorry.

      I love how you closed your comment. So much truth in your words, my friend.

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  2. Jeanne, this is such a good post. No matter how we may think we do not label others, I think in many ways we all do. You have brought us to the truth that the only way to stop doing this is to see others as Jesus would see them. Only He can do that in our lives as we ask Him to deposit His love into our hearts. May we each humbly ask Him to restrain us when we want to slap a label on others.

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    1. Thank you for reassuring me that I’m not the only one who has struggled with this, Joanne. 🙂 I’m praying more and more that God will help me to see others as He does. It’s only when we can do this that we can love people the way Jesus does. And yes, it requires humility to ask God for His perspective and to view others differently, doesn’t it? Thanks for your words today.

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  3. This is great insight. My little Pharisees come home with labels for others as well, and I realize that they play the comparison game for the same reasons that middle aged mums do: it makes us feel more righteous when we gaze at the unrighteousness of others. May we find grace to pay attention to our own sin tendencies and then to pour out love toward those we are tempted to scorn.

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    1. “My little Pharisees . . .” that had me laughing, Michele. And then turning the spotlight on myself and realizing that, yes, I still have some Pharisaical (spelling?) tendencies as well. It’s kind of sad that we still struggle with comparing in middle age, isn’t it? I’m thankful for God’s grace as He shows us these tendencies, reminds us that we are enough in Him because of what Jesus has done, and then helps us let go of those tendencies. Yes, may we pour out love on those we’re tempted to scorn. I am so thankful for your wisdom, Michele!

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  4. So sweet, Jeanne. I often feel judged. I spoke with a lady recently. She asked me a question, and my response was lacking. I said, “I don’t know why I said that, because I’ve been doing this and that …” This might not make much sense, but we talked longer. She was kind. And I left her thinking that she probably doesn’t like me … I didn’t give her the initial response that I know she wanted. I shorted myself because I’m hard on myself and I haven’t accomplished all that I wish I would have. But I’ve still accomplished much on this issue. Anyway … you gave me much to think about, sweet friend. There’s something in my heart there that needs uncovering and healing, it seems. ❤ Happy Mother's Day week. You're a beautiful, wonderful mother.

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    1. Awww, Shelli. Isn’t it crazy how we analyze ourselves and our responses to others? I’m so sorry that you struggle with that too. It’s been a life-long battle for me. It sounds like you and I both need to learn how to give grace . . . to ourselves. Release ourselves from the standard of perfection we’ll never achieve. I’ll pray for you today as you work through some things with Jesus. I’m always grateful for your beautiful transparency. Thank you for sharing here, friend.

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  5. This is such a necessary reminder for all of us, Jeanne. We are imperfect and human, and we can so easily become label-slappers. I have to keep asking Jesus to let me see every person through His eyes. We all need this – “What if we could see a person as one who needs Jesus and in turn, show them love as Jesus does?” It just struck me that I should also see myself that way. I too easily slap judgment on myself. Self-condemnation continues to be a struggle for me. Thank you for your honesty, my friend. It makes me feel less alone. Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Trudy, you’re right. Yea re all imperfect, and oh, so human. I love how you ask Jesus to allow you to see every person through His eyes. I’ve prayed this, but not consistently. I need to establish that habit and perspective. And yes, we do need to see ourselves through Jesus’ eyes. It helps so much with that self-condemnation, doesn’t it? I’m so glad you shared a piece of your heart here. Thank you!

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  6. I think this is something we all fall into at times. Thank you for the reminder to be aware of this tendency. I love this: “What if we could see either a fellow brother or sister, or someone who needs the hope that only Jesus can offer?” It makes such a difference when we seek to view people as God sees them.

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    1. Lesley, I think you’re right. If we are honest, we all fall into this at times. I’m so thankful Jesus can help us see others through His eyes, if we’ll ask. Thank you for stopping by!

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    1. Yes, Lisa! We never see the full story. I’ve been thinking on this a lot this week. I’m praying about how I can help my boys come to a better understanding of this, especially with those kids who hurt them with words. I’m so glad you stopped by!

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  7. Yes! May I see as you see Lord, not as I see. I know I need to come humbly before Him much more for an open heart, instead of one hiding behind my own judgements. And then the result is also a much more loving and peaceful heart too. Thanks for this devotion today J.

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    1. Lynn, I’m like you in that I need to come humbly before God and ask Him to open my heart and my eyes to see and love others as He does. And I like what you said about how we hide behind our own judgments. May we both grow in seeing others through Jesus’ eyes and treating them as such. 🙂

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  8. Thank you Jeanne. I need to avoid seeing people as “homeless.” I’m not judging them, I just don’t know how to react when I walk past them on the streets of Manhattan – and now the nice weather has arrived, there are a lot on the streets. For many of them, it seems like there is no hope. But, I have to remember that each one of them has a name and each one of them is loved by God. I started to pray for each one I walked past. I need to get back into doing that. We spend half our time here on the east coast in the city, and the other half in the mountains of Colorado. Intrigued as to where you live.

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    1. Rachel, it’s far too easy to slap a label on someone based merely on what we see, isn’t it? Honestly? I don’t always know how to react either, but I’ve been praying for a softer heart toward those I see on street corners. And yes, we do need to remember that each person has a name and a story, and they are loved by God.

      Where in Colorado do you spend your time? I’m in the Springs area.

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  9. I can relate to so many parts of this post, Jeanne. A child who likes to apply broad, sweeping generalizations to pretty much everything (partly because that’s just what teenagers do, and partly because she knows it pushes my buttons!). The sad, ugly realities these kids often do face at school. The conviction that comes with knowing that, even as I am telling my kids to try to see those around them through Jesus’ eyes, I have trouble doing it myself. I hate labels, and yet I still use them. What helps? Remembering that there’s always more than meets the eye and there’s always more to the story. Happy Mother’s Day, my friend!

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    1. Lois, I wonder if kids paint those sweeping generalizations because they’re trying to figure out where things in their lives fit . . . just a thought I’ve been pondering. As Christian mothers we’re in a quandary, aren’t we? I’m finding it challenging to help our boys see things through Jesus’ eyes when there’s so much ugliness going on all around them. I will still remind them to look at others through Jesus’ eyes, and I find myself praying for my boys so much more than I did when they were younger. Yes, tire’s always more than meets the eye and more to the story. 🙂 May we remember this, even as we encourage our kids to grow in this mindset.

      I hope your Mother’s Day is wonderful too, friend!

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  10. We can be so quick to sum people up by the outward appearance, while God looks at the heart. It can work both ways too, can’t it? I know I’m guilty of thinking someone has it all together, when it reality, they really need a helping hand. As always, love your thought provoking and wise words.

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    1. Hey Tiff, so sorry I didn’t respond sooner! Like you, I’ve been guilty of seeing the best in others and comparing that with the worst in me. We defeat ourselves when we do that, and I suspect we make God sad, too. It’s good to remember that everyone has something they’re dealing with, right?

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  11. Jeanne,
    Wow, what a poignant post!! I like to think that I give people the benefit of the doubt when I first meet them. But, it doesn’t take long for the judgment switch to be flipped on. I think your point about how God sees people past, present, and future is good to keep in mind when we are trying to see others through God’s lens. He sees and knows potential. He know what the finished product will be. I need to let HIS way of viewing people come first because He is God and I am not. Got me thinking on this one….
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, it’s a choice to see people through God’s lens, isn’t it? I can’t do it in my own strength. At least, not for very long. May we both grow in seeing people through God’s eyes. So thankful for your transparency, my friend!

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