One of the things that I enjoy doing as much as catching up on my favorite show on television, is reading a really good book. I read books on a wide array of subjects. I like science fiction, mysteries, novels, biographies, action, inspirational, religious and sometimes a good western. I have quite a few books in my GoodReads currently reading list. One such book which I will no doubt review when I am done is titled Marriage Matters, by Winston T. Smith. I find it quite interesting, especially since I am in the process of editing my own book on dating and marriage.
What stuck out for me in this book that I am reading is this one chapter where he raises the thought of how do you view the other person in your marriage; do you see them as a person, or as an object? Do you manipulate them, or do you honor them. This chapter jumped out at me, not because I feel like I manipulate my wife or see her as an object, but because it got me to thinking in general about how we view others and to rethink, why do I do the things I do?
In the book he gives this example of a person he is counselling, who conveys this story of how he was in a store behind a elderly woman who gets to the checkout, only to find herself short of the full amount owed to the cashier. He goes on to tell how this guy, after watching the woman struggling to find change to pay the remaining balance, reached out and gave the woman a dollar. Just as the author, you might think to yourself that this guy was very noble in his gesture. To the contrary, the gentleman confesses that it wasn’t out any sense of charity or compassion for the woman that provoked him to surrender his legal tender. He simply wanted to get her out of the line so that he could get back to his day.
That revelation not only hits the author like a ton of bricks, it hits me like one too. How often have you done something, no matter how trivial it may be, that wasn’t for pure motives? The bible speaks of how some things can appear purely motivated in our own eyes, but God sees the heart behind our actions (See Proverbs 16:2). Another passage in Proverbs speaks to how mixed motives derail our lives, while it is the pure motives that direct our lives down a clear path (See Proverbs 21:8-18).
We’re called to live lives that are pure in our motivations, and the love that we are expected to display towards others, whether they are our closest family, the perfect stranger, or that person who crosses the borders of personal space we call our office cubicle. We have to always check ourselves to be sure that what we do will be acceptable in the eyes of God.
No one likes the feeling of being manipulated, so we have to be mindful every day that in whatever thing we do, we are honoring the people who God places before us. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we are to entertain the stranger because we never know when we’ve entertained a stranger unaware. There are also many scriptures that speak to us treating others as we’d want to be treated. If we are to show people that we honor them as people and not as objects of manipulations, we have to be willing to pay attention to why we do what we do.
Our motivations in our relationships, even with people we don’t know must be love and honor driven. We are to be as loving and honorable towards them as if we were loving and honoring God Himself. Jesus painted a description of what the Kingdom was like, in that how they treated the hungry, the prisoner, the naked, the sick and the stranger, it would be counted as how they treated the King. Choose to see the people around you as people and vessels of honor, not objects to be manipulated. When this happens, not only will they feel good, it will be because it was good.
QUESTION: What can you do to show others that you genuinely honor them as people?