A few days ago my wife commented that I treat, or speak with, everyone the same. (Or words to that effect.)
I wish that were entirely true. In thinking about that statement I find that I do guard my words around those whom I don’t know, or moreover, do know – if you catch my drift. However, I also tend to be less careful in my choice of words and display of emotion around those I am comfortable with and in whose presence I feel secure.
But I do understand what she was saying. I generally am not impressed by people, power, authority, position, rank, or title. They are human beings created in the image of God, just as I am. A janitor deserves the same level of attention from me as the senator he serves.
I found Job’s friend Elihu expressing the same sentiment about God.
He doesn’t care how great a person may be, and he doesn’t pay any more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all. – Job 34:19
Just like God, I do however make distinctions based upon a person’s life situation, choices, attitudes, and behaviors. Just like God noticed Job, I too notice people who deserve it as a result of what they do with what God has given them.
Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil.” – Job 1:8
I would say that Elihu’s statement about God not paying more attention is not entirely true. God was obviously proud of Job. But it wasn’t because of anything Job owned, or position he held. It was because of how Job lived his life.
Scripture is clear that I’m to treat people as I want to be treated. It does not say anything about them needing to be believers or even nice. In fact Jesus tells me to do it for my enemies, or those who consider themselves my enemy.
“But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do for you.
“Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even the sinners do that! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that? Even sinners will lend to their own kind for a full return.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. – Luke 6:27-36
This was also expounded upon in James’ letter.
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others?
For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives? – James 2:1-4
So I find that I do treat people differently based upon their spiritual condition and maturity, both in the Lord and physically. But I do not put on a false face, or at least try not to. I think that is the heart of what my wife was saying; that I’m always the same person no matter whom I’m with. Prayerfully I will always remain true to the image of God that he’s created, and is refining in me.
Father, may I always be me – a bearer of the image of your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.
Only me – Jan