Last Sunday I shared about celebrating the success of others. There is plenty of God’s favor to go around. He is a big God. There is no reason to be jealous when someone else appears to be getting all the recognition. If our heart is on the kingdom, we will celebrate kingdom success no matter who gets the credit. If our heart is on ourselves we will be jealous and envious of others.
On a similar note, along with celebrating the success of others, we can believe the best in others as well. It is easy to see the fault and flaws of others. Faith in God gives us the ability past the faults and flaws and to see the potential in that person to be used by God.
When Paul came to Jerusalem after his conversion he was looked upon with suspicion (see Acts 9:26-28). Everyone saw what he had been. He had persecuted Christians. He had been an evil man. But God changed his heart on the road to Damascus. Yet, it was not the changed heart most people saw in Paul. They still saw the old Saul, who was out to destroy the Christians. It was only Barnabas who could see past that with the eyes of faith to see the great potential in this man.
I can almost see it now how the Christians in Jerusalem were whispering how this man Paul was up to no good. They talked among themselves how they believe he was infiltrating their ranks so that he could destroy the movement. Paul was looked upon with suspicion and people did not want much to do with Paul. I imagine the more people talked about it, the more the perception seemed to become reality. In the midst of all this Barnabas defended Paul when no one else did. He knew there was a different story to tell than the one that was being told.
As believers we are called to defend one another and stand up for the reputation of those doing the things of God. It is clear that those who are serving the Lord in the greatest ways are often the biggest targets for criticism and even hatred. The first thing we agree to on our membership covenant at Lord of Life is the refusal to gossip. Not only do we refuse to gossip but we will confront it and call it out when others participate in it. It has no place in the church.
The moral of the story is to see the best in others even when everyone else only sees the worst. It is much easier to be a critic especially when everyone around us is being a critic. Critics love company. Your role is when others are the critic you be the one to see the potential in the other person to be used by God. After all, it is God who sees the potential in you to be used by him in spite of all your own flaws. He is your biggest cheerleader and there are many who need you to be their cheerleader.