by Dawn Aldrich
I love watching children play, communicate, manipulate their world. Everything is so basic, so simple. Their only concerns are food, warmth, and sleep. But, if you only feed them, keep them warm and dry and simply sit them in a corner they’ll complain. Why? Because they still need affection. Feeling loved is a basic need.
Jesus understood this.
In Mark 10:17-31 a rich young man asks Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”(v17). Jesus reminds him of the commandments and the young man boasts his adherence to them all. And I love this next part. Before Jesus rebuked his religiosity, his greed, his love for things: “Jesus looked at him AND LOVED HIM” (v 21). Wow! Jesus addressed the heart issue, this man’s need to know he was loved, before he gave him the hard truth: “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
It’s the same with our children, isn’t it? Before we rebuke their behavior or their heart issues, don’t they look at us as if to say, “Do you love me?” Do our children cry when being corrected because they don’t want to be wrong or because they think they’ve fallen out of our good graces and our love? A little of both, I think. But, from my experience, children can accept their need for change as long as they’re assured we love them regardless of their faults.
How true that is for us and our adult relationships. We all fail at righteousness. No one is perfect. We’re always in need of change. We all need accountability for wrong behavior especially if we claim to follow Christ. But, how fast are we to speak without pausing, looking our brother or sister in the eye and LOVING THEM? How many times do we speak discouragement or rejection to one another before we stop and love one another as Jesus loved this man? Did Jesus’ love for this man stop him from pointing out the problem with his faith? No. The truth must always be brought into the light, but Jesus’ love for this man was forefront in his mind before he delivered words of truth.
As to changing our behavior? That’s not up to man to try to accomplish in himself or in his brother. Verse 27 Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Is Jesus saying we shouldn’t strive to change or we don’t need to change? No. He’s saying it’s a heart issue. It’s impossible to change any sinful behavior within our own power. It’s more about how much we let God’s love and Holy Spirit work in our hearts and lives.