July 1, 2013

Seeing Value through Faith and Love

"You are never going anywhere with this," said Dr. Henry, dismissively. She was the local
college's music department chairperson. I was ten and just starting to learn the clarinet from her. At that moment, my highest musical aspiration was to get through the lesson without crying. I also hoped that the regular, more affirming, instructor felt well enough to teach my next lesson.

In my case, Dr. Henry had an accurate ear for talent. In the end, my greatest achievement was an unremarkable third chair, third clarinet. She was short-sighted, however, to imply that music activities were wasted on me if I wasn't professional material. I would never be a Benny Goodman, but I would be shaped by the discipline and cooperation required of a band member.

Pondering this experience made me examine my attitude toward people that God puts in my path. Do I give loving encouragement or a quick dismissal? Can I see beyond faults with eyes of faith and love?

Do I think the woman at work, who has a anti-Christian bias, is out of God's redemptive reach?  If a poor family joins our church when we are hurting financially, do I ignore them in favor of the new wealthy couple? Do I arrogantly assume that people with different gifts and interests than mine have lesser value? Have I caught the vision that church is an excellent place for sinners like me to be transformed by Jesus?

When I lack faith, I need to remember the truth of who God is and what He is able to do. I know: He has the power to save. (I Corinthians 1:18) He can transform a man like Saul. (Acts 9:22) He knows the plans He has for His own. (Jeremiah 29:11) All of His redeemed people are precious in His sight. (Isaiah 43:4) I want to be part of what He is doing in the world and someone who sees value in His children. When I am arrogant toward others, I must be reminded that without Christ, I can do nothing.
I must be shaped by love. If I don't love God and His people, my ministry efforts are a waste of time. (I Corinthians 13:1) I am no better than a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal or a squeaky clarinet. That sounds pretty awful; and I am never going anywhere with that. Dr. Henry would agree.

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