One of the most troublesome problems of our lives is to find ourselves profoundly affected by the mistakes another person is making, and yet not seeming to be able to do anything about their erroneous or immature behavior.
In that situation you may have tried advising, admonishing, berating or appealing to them, all with no results. It’s time to do it God’s way!
The secret God employed to change human behavior was that of redemption. This strategy was woven into and worked out through every part of Jesus’ life and ministry.
Have you ever wondered, for example, why Jesus got baptized by His cousin John?
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and since Jesus was without sin, He clearly didn’t need to undergo that process. Not only that, but John had already pointed Him out as having a superior ministry to his own.
Jesus’ baptism was not a baptism of cleansing, as was everyone else’s at the time, but of identification. Jesus came as the Redeemer of mankind, but by the principles that run throughout the Word of God, you cannot redeem anyone who cannot relate to you, or identify with you.
Redemption is all about buying a person or a people back from a place of lost honor and forfeited rights. It is all about rescuing or saving them from being trapped forever in a bad situation due to their own foolishness or miscalculated actions.
Redemption is an act of great compassion and selflessness. It always costs the redeemer something to redeem the one in need. It can only be done by one who has the power to lift another out of the situation where they are helpless to help themselves.
Ruth could only be redeemed by a kinsman – someone who was close to her and intimately associated with her affairs, but wealthy and influential enough to change her status instantly.
The nation of Israel could only be delivered by Moses; one who was Hebrew enough to be one of them, but who was also connected to the power of God in order to be able to do something about their situation.
Likewise, God could not redeem mankind from Heaven; He had to send Jesus, who passed through the womb of a woman, and who was therefore touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Jesus was the ideal Redeemer of mankind, because He identified Himself with us completely, but was without sin. He was able to lift all of humanity to His level because of His redeeming sacrifice.
Before Jesus did anything publicly, God spoke about Him at His baptism in an audible voice that all who were gathered could hear, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
That affirmation and validation, before He had actually done anything, empowered Him to fulfill His ministry towards mankind. Yet the church is operating with these principles the wrong way around. The church tells you that if you do things right, then afterwards you will be approved of. The church tells you to stop sinning so that you can be accepted among the brethren. This is an Old Covenant mentality.
Jesus told the woman caught in the act of adultery, that He did not condemn her. After this affirmation of her worth to Him, then He admonished her to sin no more.
Redemption can only take place by one who reserves the right to stand in judgment, even though their judgment might be justified, in order to validate and affirm worth.
Pastors, if you are wondering why people don’t straighten out even after you preach, it is because your condemnation makes them go and repeat what they were doing wrong! The truth is that redemption never truly takes place until you have seen a person at their worst and yet refused to reject them, but instead you still love them. It is the goodness of the Lord that leads a person to repentance.
Your children won’t change until you stop noticing only the things they do wrong and start giving them credit for what they do right.
Your husband or wife won’t change until you stop being critical all the time and start communicating your approval of him or her, even in the midst of things that are wrong.
God approved of Jesus and that expectation lifted Him up. No one really changes until you see what is worst about them and still love them. I know you want to give them a piece of your mind when they get it wrong and you can see so clearly what they need to do to improve! But that is the world’s way! Putting someone in their place is not what we do; instead we put ourselves in someone else’s place and identify with them, in order to lift them up. That is where the redemptive power lies.
Whose life are you in a position to lift up today? Who is sent alongside you so that, by identifying with you, they can receive the love and affirmation they need to rise out of their issues?
Can it be that these people, who seem so aggravating, are actually your current assignment? Can it be that your sacrifice of love and approval is not in vain, but it is God’s vehicle of compassion towards them to cause their lives to change for the better?
No human being has the power to change themselves, but the Holy Spirit is the One who completes the work. What a privilege to work in cooperation with Him to affect the life of another in such a profound way!