Freely accept them and seek their good.
The above words were used by Lorne to summarize in a practical way the teaching found in I John 3:18. “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Very often we are left with a fuzzy concept of what it means not to just talk about loving others, but to demonstrate love with actions and in truth. I have discovered that the statements “freely accept them,” and “seek their good” get us started on the right path in our relationship with others.
It was a day similar to all the others in my medical practice. I had left one hospital and arrived at the second one that morning. As I entered the doctor’s lounge I saw a group of about twenty physicians, residents and medical students gathered around a television set, all watching in silence. As I walked toward the group watching a tall building burn, a plane veered toward a second building and struck it near the top in a fiery crash of smoke and fire. We all watched the scene in horror that morning as we were all introduced to what has been come to be known as 9/11. One young man separated himself from the others and came to me. He was the resident assigned to me for September and October of that year, a Muslim. For the next seven weeks we met, discussed the patients in depth and he watched as I would pray for the patients and at times would talk to them about Christ. We developed a friendship which led to lunches together, tennis games, and dinners with our wives. This relationship developed into a request on his part that I write a letter to the State Department on his behalf for the purpose of allowing him to stay in the United States after he completed his residency training. Although unable to stay in our country we heard from a mutual friend that they were desirous of looking into the Gospel with Beverly and me, but were reluctant to do so because of fear of the Muslim community here in Wichita. It is our hope that these seeds of interest have been nurtured by the Lord since that time. The Lord, in His Grace, had allowed us an opportunity to freely accept them and to seek their good.
As I consider Lorne’s words further, I am reminded of a man who befriended and mentored a teenager who came from a family without hope or resources. This relationship continued throughout his schooling and many hours were spent encouraging, modeling and providing resources for his physical and spiritual development. Upon graduation from high school, after he reached an employable age, he was given a job in my friend’s company. Despite being given every advantage, he not only proved to be an inadequate employee but he also brought groundless legal actions against his mentor’s company. Despite the rejection of the young man who was cared for, loved, and supported, the employer continued to deal with him gently, eventually leading to his repentance and acceptance of Christ as his Lord and Savior. For many years, he demonstrated that he had accepted him and sought his good.
If you had enemies who persistently sought to find fault and to discredit and slander you to others and in your presence, what would they find in your life to point out to others? Jesus‘ enemies found two things in his life. They are mentioned in a sermon given by G. Campbell Morgan entitled “The Gospel According to Jesus‘ Enemies.” Earlier in his ministry they derisively pointed out that he was “a friend of sinners.” As He hung on the cross, they gathered around Him as related in Mark 15:31. “In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,‘ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!’” What they did not understand was that in order to save us, He could not save Himself.
How then, do we understand these two things that characterized the Gospel according to Jesus‘ enemies? “He is a friend of sinners,” (freely accept them) and “He saved others…..but he can’t save himself.” (seek their good) The life of our Lord was continually committed to freely accepting others and seeking their good. May His Spirit so manifest the life of Christ in us so that His acceptance of others and His seeking their good is made evident in and through our lives.
In Christ, Richard Spann