Just before we shut the TV off a few nights ago, we watched a few minutes of Les Miserables, the story of Jean Valjean. In the last scene as he enters heaven, Jean, reminded of the mercy shown him by an old priest, sings:
“to love another person is to see the face of God.”
Those words challenged me to look further into what this means and in my mind I have tied this to judging. God commands us to not judge others or we will be judged. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said:
7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2 NASV)
The message Jesus was delivering is that we are all the same. We are all created in the image of God, but after the fall of man we all have that same ugly, sinful nature. We are no different from the person we are judging.
And when I look into the eyes of another person I must recognize this. Any of their quirks, annoying behaviors or offensive words are to remind me that I come from the same source.
A verse in Proverbs says:
“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” (Proverbs 27:19)
The Pulpit Commentary connects this verse with the words that Jesus spoke on judging when it says:
“As in clear water the face of the gazer is reflected, so man finds in his fellow man the same feelings, sentiments, passions, which he has himself. He sees in others the likeness of himself; whatever he knows himself to be, he will see others presenting the same character.”
The reality is until we see the likeness of ourselves in the other person we will continue to judge them. We all have the same ‘seeds of sin’ inside, but when we judge we somehow think we are better, when we are not.
The other person is your reflection in the water, so when we judge them, we judge ourselves.
Jean Valjean says when we love the other person we will see the face of God in them. We need to see them as God now sees you because of Christ’s work. Because the blood of Jesus covers us and offers forgiveness, God no longer looks at us with anger, but with compassion.
One 18th century scholar explained that Christ is to be our mediator in every encounter and interaction. Christ stands between us and others.
Holding this perspective helps us look at others the same way. What we find offensive in another is merely a reflection of what is in our own heart. It is through Christ we can love our neighbor and see the face of God in our fellow-man. It is my opportunity to have a god-like perception of others.
Because God’s mercy towards us is boundless, we must extend mercy to others. We must forgive as we are forgiven.
“Above all things have intense an unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins (forgives and disregards the offense of others.” (1 Peter 4:8)