There is a scene from a Sponge Bob episode that Sponge Bob is trying to retrieve information out of his brain. It shows the inside of his brain as a room full of file cabinets and a bunch of mini Sponge Bob's frantically running around pulling out files trying to find the info he is looking for and ends up with them all short circuiting and the files all flying everywhere.
For months I have been thinking about how it seems to be a part of our human nature to want to "label" people, situations, etc., and file them away in our brains - it is easy and neat. The problem is that rarely can a person be neatly "labeled and filed", put into neat little categories that we create. I have had several situations over the past year that I have been labeled and filed. I am NOT what I was labeled, but once the label was slapped on and the file drawer closed there was absolutely NOTHING I could do that was going to change it. It made me think about how I "label and file" others, do I look at them through my own tainted vision and determine who I think they are? Do I take a few words or actions and make a judgement as to their entire personality? Do I lock the file drawer and never allow them to escape the "label" I have assigned to them? When I look at people, am I REALLY SEEING them, or is my vision tainted by my own past hurts, my own issues of distrust or pain or anything else that can keep me from seeing clearly? Am I seeing them as God does, with value and worth, not easily categorized into my mental filing system? Am I giving them grace or a label?
In Judges 6 & 7 is a beautiful example of how God sees so differently than we do. The Midianites had been the enemy of Israel for seven years. Every year they would come in "like locusts" and would destroy all their crops and livestock. For seven years the Israelites lived in fear of their enemy and fear of starvation. Because of this, Gideon hides in a winepress to thresh his wheat. Here is a fearful man, (understanderably because of the circumstances he had lived through)hiding from his enemy in hopes that he could save his wheat and save himself and his family from starvation. Yet as an Angel of the Lord appears to him, he addresses him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of fearless courage!"
First off, I am sure that it did not appear at all to him that the Lord was with him, secondly, I am sure that he did not see himself, nor did anyone else see him as a "mighty man of fearless courage." Gideon questions this, asking why the Lord has forsaken them and where are the miracles of the past, and the Lord says, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?" Really? The scared guy hiding in the winepress, THIS is the guy, THIS is the "mighty man of fearless courage" that is going to save Israel from their enemies? THIS guy? It is clear that Gideon did not see this about himself as he asked God for various signs that it was Him really speaking. This scripture is used sometimes to talk about doubting because Gideon questioned God, but I see it so differently. I see that God saw the gold HE had put within Gideon, the things HE had put within him that only HE could see... in Gideon's doubt, God revealed to him that he was hearing correctly, the signs he asked for were fulfilled so that Gideon's eyes could be opened to see himself as God saw him. Gideon BECAME the man God saw within him, he was transformed into the man God saw he could be. God used him to defeat the enemy without even having to battle, God used him to do miracles... a man that had thought miracles were of the past, saw that God was still a God of miracles.
If God could do that for Gideon, what does He have for you? Maybe you have "labeled and filed" yourself, maybe you see your own faults and failings and can't see beyond them to the greatness within you - God does not make junk and He made you - you are not a mistake or an afterthought. Maybe you have never seen God do a miracle and think as Gideon did, "where are all His wondrous works of which our fathers told us"... Maybe, you are a "mighty man of fearless courage" hiding in a winepress... BUT, you don't have to STAY in that winepress! As God was ready to pull that gold out of Gideon and TRANSFORM him into the man He saw he could be, He can do for you! He is still the God of miracles and He is still the God that loves you, He is still the God that transforms! If you have doubt, talk to Him! If you need His reassurance, ask Him! Let Him rearrange your thinking, pull off the labels you have put on yourself and replace them with His label - as with Gideon, from "fearful" to "fearless!"
My prayer is that we all will allow God to show us how He sees us and how He sees those around us too. When we see the "Gideons" around us are we "labeling and filing" them with how WE see them? I want to see people through His eyes, not my own! This story illustrates how our sight in the natural could be totally missing it! I want to be one who helps to reveal the treasures of God within others, to love and encourage and help them to grow!
Rise up you mighty men (and women) of fearless courage!
If you have never read the rest of the story, it is amazing! (Judges 6-7)