If you were to go to your physician’s office with a pain in your body somewhere, as you explained to your doctor where the pain was and what it felt like, he or she would silently run your description through a kind of mental grid in an effort to discover the cause. Your doctor would eliminate one cause after another until finally a probable culprit was discovered. Then, possible remedies would be suggested.
Over the years I have learned that approval of others is a very difficult task for many. People are finding fault, holding grudges, pointing blame, criticizing others and nursing prejudices toward others at unprecedented rates. And yet, I Corinthians 13: 7, tells us that love “believes the best in people.”
And so over the years I have developed a kind of “Approval Grid” for people. While I used to be tempted to criticize or find fault with people, now I almost automatically run people and their circumstances through this grid in order to find ways to approve of them. Here is that grid.
I know people are victims of dysfunctional upbringings in varying degrees. This created great havoc, a lot of mental baggage and a great deal of emotional issues in people’s lives. This helps me to be more tolerant of their actions and reactions.
I know my own dysfunction may have bearing on any critical views I may have of some people. All too often over the years, I have seen my own emotional baggage, (low self-esteem, etc.) become entwined in my judgements of others. I say this to my shame. Yet, there is good news. I have learned to exercise more patience with people as a result.
I know humans are characterized by a myriad of failures. Case in point are my own failures. To point out others’ failures is to showcase my own.
I have learned about personality types. I understand the differences, drawbacks and strengths of each. Consequently, I am able to accept people the way God made them much more readily than I ever could before.
I know about spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12) and the accompanying strengths and abilities of each—as well as the weakness of each. As a result, I find myself able to focus in on the potential of a person rather than their inabilities.
I know certain religious environments create religious attitudes in people that many have genuine trouble sorting out or shedding. This helps me to be more patient.
I know that there are many cultural issues and mindsets in our day that are very confusing to people and create a lot of function-ability problems they don’t even understand, let alone have the ability to sort out.
I know this fragmented culture we live in creates such great confusion in people’s thinking concerning God, the church, family and spiritual things that they don’t have a clue as to how to negotiate their way through the varying emotions and mindsets that they may have.
I know sinners are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and haven’t the slightest understanding of spiritual things. This helps me love and accept them in spite of their spiritual condition. Likewise, I also consider myself a sinner saved only by God’s grace and from no merit of my own.
I know some people will never change. So I am best to love them as they are rather than risk them feeling my disapproval by trying to change them.
I know some Christians will be in heaven even though they don’t agree with me on some things—and in the final analysis, that is all that matters.
I know teaching is a powerful method of communication if it is truthfully, timelessly and lovingly presented. So why risk people feeling disapproved of by correcting them when instruction accompanied by the conviction of the Holy Spirit is a much more effective catalyst of change than my correcting words.
Anyway, you get my point. When put all together, I am able to find approval for some pretty despicable characters. When I consider the amount of disapproving words I encounter from people toward others on a daily basis, we all need to step up our personal “Approval Grids”.
Approval of others in Christ is similar to overlooking, much like we can overlook an item on lying on a table if it happens to be covered up by something else. Love in our hearts covers up things in people that may cause us to disapprove of them. It’s not blind naivety. It is 20-20 spiritual sight that just simply loves anyway.
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8