Our world today is full of so much judgement, anger, hatred, meanness and discounting of others. It is really a sad state we find ourselves in. We truly need to find our way back to more acceptance, tolerance and love. I have a hard time grasping these negative conditions myself, I can only imagine what it is doing to the psyche of the children that are living in this. What kind of young people and adults are they going to be as they live with so much bad behavior exhibited before them? What they are experiencing is sadly going to have less than positive results in their future lives and will impact not only them but everyone around them.
We are all very unique individuals. We each experience life in different ways and those experiences are what forms our perception of everything around us. Those perceptions are what motivates us to act and react in certain ways to every decision we are faced with each day. Maybe because of this, we need to learn to step back and look at people and circumstances with a more open mind and objectivity, before making decisions – before making judgements about those people and circumstances.
As we go about our daily lives, it is really easy to judge people we come in contact with – based on how they dress, on their race, on the type of work they do, on the way they interact with us, etc. Our own personal histories can cause us to perceive things in a way that could possibly be very inaccurate and cause our reactions to be totally off base. Particularly if the person is a stranger we do not know what the story is behind that person’s facade and any unkindness we show toward them could further wound them. In fact, even people that we believe we know well can hide behind a smile while hurting on the inside.
Check out this scripture passage: Matthew 25:14-30 (The Passion Translation) “‘Again, heaven’s kingdom realm is like the wealthy man who went on a long journey and summoned all his trusted servants and assigned his financial management over to them. Before he left on his journey, he entrusted a bag of five thousand gold coins to one of his servants, to another a bag of two thousand gold coins, and to the third a bag of one thousand gold coins, each according to his ability to manage. The one entrusted with five thousand gold coins immediately went out and traded with the money, and he doubled his investment. In the same way, the one who was entrusted with two thousand gold coins traded with the sum and likewise doubled his investment. But the one who had been entrusted with one thousand gold coins dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After much time had passed, the master returned to settle accounts with his servants. The one who was entrusted with five thousand gold coins came and brought ten thousand, saying, ‘See, I have doubled your money.’ Commending his servant, the master replied, ‘You have done well, and proven yourself to be my loyal and trustworthy servant. Because you have been a faithful steward to manage a small sum, now I will put you in charge of much, much more. You will experience the delight of your master, who will say to you, ‘Come celebrate with me!’ Then the one who had been entrusted with two thousand gold coins came in and said, ‘See, my master, I have doubled what you have entrusted to me.’ Commending his servant, the master replied, ‘You have done well, and proven yourself to be my loyal and trustworthy servant. Because you were faithful to manage a small sum, now I will put you in charge of much, much more. You will experience the delight of your master, who will say to you, ‘Come celebrate with me!’ Then the one who had been entrusted with one thousand gold coins came to his master and said, ‘Look, sir. I know that you are a hard man to please and you’re a shrewd and ruthless businessman who grows rich on the backs of others. I was afraid of you, so I went and hid your money and buried it in the ground. But here it is—take it, it’s yours.’ Angered by what he heard, the master said to him, ‘You’re an untrustworthy and lazy servant! If you knew I was a shrewd and ruthless businessman who always makes a profit, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? Then I would have received it all back with interest when I returned. But because you were unfaithful, I will take the one thousand gold coins and give them to the one who has ten thousand. For the one who has will be given more, until he overflows with abundance. And the one with hardly anything, even what little he has will be taken from him.’ Then the master said to his other servants, ‘Now, throw that good-for-nothing servant far away from me into the outer darkness, where there will be great misery and anguish!’“ [Emphasis mine]
Now I have read the above story many times and I just always perceived it as a story telling us that we need to do what we know is right, following the Word of God, so that He will look on us with favor when the end times arrive; and, that the person that does not do the right things will be cast aside in the end. I also thought it to be telling me that when we do the right things, according to God’s ways, that we will be rewarded accordingly along the way as well. It can also be viewed as a lesson in financial stewardship. However, a few days ago when reading my daily devotional, the author had a new take on part of it that I had never thought about and found very interesting. It caused me to think about the perceptions I have and the kind of judgements I make that result in how I treat others.
The idea he discussed was along the lines of how the three servants had different perceptions about their master. The story says that the master “…summoned all his trusted servants and assigned his financial management over to them.” [Emphasis mine] To me that exhibits a great deal of comfort and trust on his behalf toward his employees – an opportunity for them to confirm his trust and to cement the fact that their abilities were what he was assuming that they were.
The three employees all worked for the same man, yet the first two seemed to have respect enough for him to take the money entrusted to them and work to increase that amount – doing what they believed to be the right thing. This would ensure that his trust in them had not been displaced. But the third man viewed his boss with completely different eyes – he viewed him as “a hard man to please” and “shrewd and ruthless.” While his boss had valued him as trustworthy, the employee seemed to believe that his boss took advantage of others to the point that he apparently feared him. So he just socked the money away – I guess not wanting to chance any losses – and returned that same amount to him with nothing more.
I guess it is possible that the first two had the same opinion of their boss as the third and that is what drove them to act in the way that they did. Maybe knowing the man could drive a hard bargain with others, they did not want to chance angering him. Or, did they view him as a hard-working business man that knew how to conduct his business to his best advantage and the admiration they had as a result, caused them to want to honor him and his practices? We do not really have any way of knowing the answer. But each of their own personal perceptions caused them to do what they did – it paid off very well for the first two – for the third, not so much. He squandered his chance to prove his worth by reacting out of his perceptions.
In order to help make our world a better place, we should all work on thinking through our perceptions. Are they true and accurate? Or, are we looking at circumstances and people with a slanted, distorted, uneducated view? If so, we may be contributing to the unrest and negativity in our world. We should strive to make our little corner of the world better by seeing others the way God sees them. He loves all of us – the good, the bad and the ugly. He is not a hard master that is angry and heartless. He trusts us and wants the best for us. He just wants us to be faithful so that we can celebrate with Him and have a good life.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” Romans 8:28 (TLB)
P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrate love, sharing it with everyone around you. I really do like the way The Message translation puts 1 Thessalonians 3:12a: “… may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you…” The picture that creates of a life being filled with so much love that it has no choice but to overflow and splash on everyone around you is just lovely. Hopefully not just on a day designed to celebrate love, but every day of our lives.
Written by Karran Martin – February 10, 2021