“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.”- Philippians 2:3 AMP
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me.‘”- Matthew 25:40 AMP
Have you ever encountered or spent time with someone you felt wasn’t genuine or you could tell wasn’t being their true self around you? Not sure about you, but I find it difficult to engage with people who just seem to be wearing a mask. It’s interesting to me that many, if not most, non-Christians feel that most believers walk through life this way… unfortunately, they’re right for the most part. But I also think that the issue goes much deeper than believers just trying to pull one over on each other and the world.
We can’t blame the world for what they’ve observed in and out of the Church as far as Christians are concerned and we can’t blame them for not reacting to it the way Jesus would because it’s impossible to truly imitate someone that you’ve never known. That being said, I confess that I too have struggled with the fact that most Christians find it easier to wear a mask than they do to be honest about their sin and struggles; but God in His goodness, made it a point to reveal to me that honesty alone isn’t the answer. Honesty void of love accomplishes little if anything! I have heard many pastors preach the importance of being real and honest but I’ve heard far fewer preach the importance of choosing to be a safe place for that type of honesty to take place… and those that have, usually fail to provide the proper training within their church to see it accomplished. It’s like two halves of a puzzle… we need both sides.
Now, granted, there will always be those who for the sake of their own pride, still choose to wear the mask of perfection regardless of how well their honesty would be received! Even then however, we should be filled with mercy for those who struggle with pride because I know from personal experience that it is really just the go-to mask for insecurity!
I have known people on both sides of the coin and I’m sad to say that I’ve found myself on both sides of the coin numerous times. I have worn the mask of perfection more times than I can count and I have been an unsafe place for honesty and failure more times than I would ever want to admit!
If there is one thing that I’ve learned through experience, it is this: that Truth without Love destroys and Love without Truth fails! We must find a way to build each other up with honesty. We must learn when to speak and when not to speak. We must follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and choose words that heal, instead of words that wound.
I have also learned that there are few things more comforting than knowing that you are safe to be honest in the presence of a friend or family member that genuinely loves you. I understand that sometimes it’s hard to not let feelings control our reactions to someone’s honesty, especially when it involves sin. This is why it’s so important to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit; He has eyes to see things that we can’t and is willing and able to reveal those things to us. He knows the whole story and sees the whole picture! We must view everyone as human and prone to mistakes; but first, we must also agree to see ourselves as those who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) because it humbles us, filling us with compassion instead of self-righteousness, and enables us to show love and mercy to those around us.
Life is painful for Christians and non-Christians alike (Matthew 5:45)! Unfortunately, pain can give birth to sin… that is why it is never our place to condemn someone for where they’ve ended up, or else we could find ourselves passing judgment on their pain! We must take all of this into consideration when providing a safe place for a friend! As I said before, pain is usually the back-drop for someone’s sin-story. Extend the Father’s grace and mercy to them; love them genuinely; commit to pray for them and with them; encourage them in wise-decision making; be encouraging and speak words of life to them; give them a hug and let them cry it out; confirm God’s love for them; be truthful, gentle, and kind; and most of all, point them to the arms of Jesus Christ because He is enough for their every need and there is no other remedy that will suffice!
Try loving others this way, and watch what God does with it! He will amaze you! I would love to hear your own stories of how you apply this truth and how you have seen God move through it, whether you have been on the giving end or the receiving end! May God Bless you all!!