I believe that depending on your predominant personality type – extrovert vs introvert – you may or may not enjoy standing out from the crowd. I also believe that there are extremes with both of those types as well; i.e. an extrovert that enjoys standing out SO much that they feel slighted if they are not continually the center of attention vs an introvert that is so painfully withdrawn/shy that they practically hide when in a crowd.
In Luke 6:24-42 (MSG) Jesus says this: “‘But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you’ll ever get. And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games. There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it. There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular. To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more payback. Live generously. Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. He quoted a proverb: ‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.’”
Three consecutive days this past week my daily devotional used verses 27-36 from the above Bible passage as the reference and his basis for discussion. The titles of those three devotionals were: “Radical Love”, “Radical Behavior” and “Radical Generosity”. Each day as he expounded on those titles he talks about standing out from the crowd with those radical qualities.
Face it, if we strive to truly love the unlovable as God asks us to do, that in itself is radical – because let’s be real here, just as the scripture says, even the wicked, godless sinners love those that love them. Stepping up to do what God asks of us in this matter would most likely result in us standing out from the crowd – but in a good way, with very positive results likely.
Can you imagine asking yourself what you wish people would do for you, then turning around and doing that exact thing for others? I believe blessing other people will result in blessings for the giver. We should never do/give/act a certain way for the sole purpose of what we will get out of it; but, the natural progression would likely give us that result. As verse 31 above says: “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!” (The more recognizable translation of that verse is: “Treat others as you want them to treat you.” (TLB) A Biblical verse commonly referred to as “The Golden Rule”.)
It can be so easy to judge others for all kinds of things, but could we actually be judging ourselves at times? I have heard during my lifetime people talk about the fact that the things you tend to dislike and judge other people about can likely be things that are actually in your own life. In fact, verse 41 of the above passage seems to allude to that very kind of thing when it says: “‘It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.’”
Following are some quotes from each of the three devotionals:
“Do you have a standard sort of love? Jesus’ calling is much higher than that. He never asked any of His disciples to fit in with the crowd. He never told His followers just to do what others expect of them. No, His calling means for us a radical departure from all the norms we once knew…We must stand out from the crowd.”*
“God expects us to stand out from the crowd with our display of good works, and the only way to stand out is to do them for people who don’t deserve them. Everyone can do them for those who are good to them in return.” “We must be radical in our behavior and display the radical nature of our God.”*
“We least want to be radical in the area of our possessions. We don’t mind being noticed for our love and our kindness nearly as much as we mind being noticed for our sacrifice of things.” “Jesus calls us to be radical. Sacrificially radical and sacrificially generous.”*
If we can be so radical in our love, our behavior and our giving that we stand out in a crowd, then we are moving toward being more like Jesus – and being more like Jesus should be the goal of every true Christian. Therefore, we need to set our hearts on being radicals and standing out from the crowd!
Written by Karran Martin – July 23, 2022
*Quotes from Chris Tiegreen
[All bold emphasis is mine]