We take special care of our clothes, but we sometimes forget people need the same consideration. We don’t have too much trouble with the obvious, such as illnesses, disabilities or difficult circumstances, but we can’t see inside and know what people are thinking. That’s when trouble comes.
It’s so easy to look at someone and make judgments. The story of Samuel going out to anoint a new king from all of Jesse’s many sons is a classic. Who would have thought God had David in mind? Even Samuel had to learn this lesson: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, New Living Translation throughout).
We have to be careful not to make assumptions with people we’ve just met, and even with ones we’ve known a long time. We don’t know what they’ve experienced and have no idea how those experiences have affected them.
In Colossians 3:12-14, we are reminded of how we should treat one another: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”
The New Testament has many “one another” statements, including Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
How we treat others is important for many reasons. As believers, we are part of the body of Christ. No one hates his or her own body, but cares for it (Ephesians 5:29). We are made in the image of God, so when we mistreat or dishonor others, we are dishonoring God. The Golden Rule isn’t a cliché. We need to treat others in the same way we would like to be treated, remembering we all have our personal struggles, some apparent to others, many hidden deep inside, known only to us and God.
Next time you’re sorting laundry, take a moment to think of the people in your life and the special consideration each one needs. God already does this for us, treating us as individuals deserving of his own special care.