For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
II Corinthians 8:9
How do you think that others see you?
I was in college when I learned the theory of the Looking Glass Self, put forth by sociologist Charles Horton Cooley. The Looking Glass Self suggests that we tend to become what the most important persons in our lives think we are. We live into their image of us. Our parents, siblings, and acquaintances, are like a mirror reflecting an image of how they see us. We will tend to live up or down to how we think they see us.
But now a more important question, not “How do you think others see you?”, but “How do you think God sees you?” Do you see God as frowning at you right now, or smiling? I am trying each morning to look in the mirror and see myself as Scripture says God sees me. “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn or deserve it.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel) God’s grace means there is nothing I can do that could make God love me less, or nothing I could do that could make God love me more. Such love, such grace, that God looks on you and me as “the apple of His eye”! (Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8). “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are” (I John 3:1). “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39). God’s grace wins the day!
When I was a young dad it occurred to me that my job as a father was to pass on to my sons what I was receiving from my heavenly Father. As I daily received His grace, love, and forgiveness, I wanted to pass that on to them. Freely we have received, so freely we are to give. As we are saved by grace, so we are to live in His grace with others.
Dr. Dennis Guernsey is a family therapist and professor at Fuller Seminary; he has some important things to say about what it means to impart God’s grace to others. He suggests that we can impart God’s grace in three ways;
- Through unconditional love. This means being willing to accept less than perfection in others, as God accepts less from us. God does not base His love on our performance, nor should we base our love on the performance of others. We don’t take it personally when others let us down. And we don’t give up on them either, as God never, ever, gives up on us.
- Through unconditional acceptance. We value the differences in others. We pray and work for unity, but not uniformity. What is important is that we are one, not that we are the same.
- Through unconditional mercy and forgiveness. By accepting God’s forgiveness we too can forgive. We are to “be kind to one another, tender- hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
We can be God’s daily channel of grace even in little things like: a warm “hello”, a moment to listen, a hug, a smile, a pat on the back, cookies delivered to the door, caroling at a care center! In these and many ways we can help be God’s Looking Glass Self to the world; people can look and see that our Father in heaven is Love.
- What are some adjectives that God might use in describing you? (Try to base your answers on Scripture.)
- Dr. Dennis Guernsey suggests that we can impart God’s grace to others through unconditional love, unconditional acceptance, and unconditional mercy and forgiveness. Take a few moments to talk to God about one particular person to whom you want to impart His grace.