There seems to be something embedded within our sinful human nature that makes us quicker to see evil than good. There is something that draws our attention more naturally to sin than to righteousness, more easily to what is ugly in other people than what is beautiful. No wonder, then, that one of the qualifications for an elder is that he must “a lover of good”, a man who takes delight in the things that delight the heart of God, a man who is not known primarily for the evils he despises but for the good he loves (Titus 1:8).
In that vein, what do you suppose comes more readily to the mind of God when he considers us—the evil we have done or the good? The evidences of remaining sin or the evidences of new grace? The ways in which we have defied his will or the ways in which we have submitted to it? I hope and expect the answer is obvious. While God sees and knows all things, surely what he most readily and eagerly sees in us is all the ways in which we are becoming like him—the godly character, the acts of love, the deeds of faith. He is a proud Father.
But I wonder about you. I wonder what is in your mind and what fills your heart when you consider Christian leaders or personalities, when you consider members of your local church, when you consider your own husband or wife or children? When it comes to other Christians in the widest circle or the narrowest, are you more likely to consider their strengths or their weaknesses, their virtues or their vices?
When someone mentions that Christian leader, do you think first about his flaws or about his graces? Is the first thing that comes to your mind the position he holds that irritates you or the deed he committed that bothers you? Or is it the way the Lord has shaped him and raised him to a position of prominence and used him there to bless others? Is it his failures, however obvious they may be, or his successes?
When someone asks you about that member of your church, could you more easily recount evidences of sinfulness in her life or evidences of grace? Is what naturally pours out of your mouth a list of proofs of the old woman or the new woman? Of what she was or what she is and will be?
When you pray for your husband, are your first words to the Lord words of praise and gratitude for the way God has been working within him and doing such good through him? Or are your first words related to his flaws and your hope that God will finally correct them? Do you more naturally see what’s wrong with him or what’s right? Do you more naturally offer the Lord praise or petition when you consider him?
When it comes to your spouse, when it comes to your children, when it comes to the members of your church, when it comes to other Christians of any kind, are you more skilled at identifying good or evil, sinfulness or virtue? Does your heart more readily identify what is lovely or what is abhorrent, what pleases God or what grieves him? Is the instinct of your tongue to praise God for the work he has done or to lament the work he has not yet done? I ask you to consider: Are you, like God, a true lover of good, a true searcher for good, and a truly committed identifier of good?