It is common, in the highly philosophical world of social media, for people to have license to say whatever they think is true. Living in America, it certainly is their right! However, not all that is written is necessarily accurate. Some things, while sounding good on the surface, work against people’s best interests. One such conclusion, usually stated in an attempt to confront hypocrisy, is the declaration that people “are” what their behaviors indicate! Are you the sum total of your behaviors? Read on…
To conclude that who you are is based on your behavior falsely assumes you are operating in a vacuum. It does not account for circumstances or the environment. It wrongly assumes that all human behavior is simply the individual acting, free of any outside influence. It does not begin to consider the vast impact of social media which spreads negative messages like wildfire. It summarily discounts your upbringing, your difficulties and your troubles. It reckons in arrogance that all people have the same opportunity to make good decisions completely removed from the situations they find themselves in, whether arduous and perilous or delightful and easy. In short, it fails to take into account the human condition, the foibles, the errors in judgment, the emotions and passions, the capacity to see the choices clearly and therefore choose wisely.
The spectrum of human behavior is vast and wide. What is wrong for one person is right for another. The person who is hurting will naturally hurt people. But, the solution for “hurt” people is not to condemn their behavior, but rather seek to remedy their hurts. People that steal and cheat and manipulate, do so because they have learned to do so, not because they are inherently bad, but because they learned no other way to get their needs met. And while their behavior is assuredly wrong, condemnation and judgment do little to offer a chance of escape. The person that consistently does “wrong” does so for a myriad of reasons. Simply demanding that they do better or assigning more and more punishments, does nothing more than telling a beggar to get a job! Surely the person that begs, whether legitimately or as part of a deception, does so at the expense of their own self image, shamefully begging as a last resort solution or in futility for not finding any other way to make it. Wrong behavior can be remedied, but whether repaired or worsened, is not an indicator of the value of that person.
God’s love for people is never based on their behaviors. God loves unconditionally and he does so because that is what people need the most. God has the ability to see what cannot be seen and understands exactly what is behind the wrong behavior. He is all-knowing and as such knows who the person really is absent all the evil influences. He looks on the heart. And in His provision for man, provided a way for men to escape the confinement of their own past behaviors. He gave man a Savior, a man subject to all the wrong choices possible for a man, yet without a failure to always make the right one. He gave him as a substitute for the man, so that the man could move forward according to the accomplished works of another man, thereby being set free from himself. In that acceptance of the Savior, His precious man could finally have the opportunity, the free will opportunity, to make a different choice. Then, men aren’t simply the sum of their behaviors, but instead a new creation.
In similar fashion, our job as fellow human beings experiencing the human condition, is to extend that same love and acceptance to other people. We must stop judging everyone and foolishly comparing their behaviors to our own in an attempt to feel better about ourselves. Though we cannot look on their hearts, we can at least acknowledge what stinkers we can be at times compete with all of the past behaviors we would like to forget! People that act poorly or rashly or foolishly, do so from a lack of understanding, not an understanding of what is right, but rather an understanding of who they really are or can be. People need your love, not a lecture! People need compassion and understanding and kindness. The kid struggling at school or exhibiting bad behaviors needs love and forgiveness more than an extended restriction! Inside we are all the same. We need lots and lots of love and acceptance. We need people to think well of us despite our wrong behaviors and as such, influence our behavior for the better. We need copious amounts of forgiveness which enables us to start again, over and over again if needed, free of judgment, resentment and long harbored ill feelings.
Maybe you aren’t feeling so good about yourself right now. Maybe you have made some mistakes and some bad choices. Maybe you have been choosing poorly for many, many years. Well, my friend, that does not define who you are at all. All it defines is where you are at this moment in your personal evolution and growth. Your life is not wasted. It isn’t too late for you. God will give you a new beginning if you want one and it does not matter what you did in the past. It is that big and God is that good! As a writer once noted, “You made a choice in the moment that seemed reasonable in the moment, but to look back upon it in your later years with new eyes is at a minimum unnecessary and foolish.” Let your past be the past even if it extends only five minutes ago.
You are NOT the sum total of your behaviors! You are a person subject to a wide variety of influences, some of which will have assuredly led you astray. The only remedy for being led astray is to rediscover the course. Remaining lost and lamenting is a fool’s game! Know this day and everyday, that you can be exactly who you choose to be without any restriction. “Judge not another man’s servant as God is able to make him stand!”
Just some good thoughts…