In the video below, things are not as they initially appear. Our eyes are easily deceived. Further, we tend to make rash judgments. Enjoy being fooled for a moment and then consider the need for deliberation and a patient spirit until all or most of the facts are in.
Here are some appropriate references from Scripture:
Call no one blessed before his death, for by his end shall a man be known (Sir 11:28).
Remember, the sins of some men are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later (1 Tim 5:24).
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now (2 Cor 5:16).
The video below contains a surprise, reminding us that not all things are as they appear. We should be careful about sizing things up, and when we must do so, do it with great humility. There is an old saying that seems appropriate:
If your words are soft and sweet, they won’t be as hard to swallow if you have to eat them.
Before watching the video, consider these cautionary quotes from Scripture:
But the LORD said to Samuel [who seeking a king, was impressed with Jesse’s eldest son], “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer (2 Cor 5:16).
Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly (John 7:24).
You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me (John 8:15-16).
Jesus said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts” (Luke 16:15).
[O Lord] Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart) (1 Kings 8:39).
Call no one happy before his death; by how he ends, a person becomes known (Sirach 11:28).
Given the violence of the past week both in the U.S. and abroad, it is important to consider the dignity of human life. I think the video below helps to do this. In it, you will see a visual representation of worldwide airline traffic over a 24-hour period. Each plane is represented by a small dot of yellow light.
As you view the video consider some of the following:
Each dot is a plane that carries hundreds of people.
Each individual has a story.
Some people are joyful, flying to attend a weddings or family events.
Some people are sad, flying to attend funerals.
Some people are nervous, flying to job interviews.
Other people are flying to attend conferences or give business presentations.
Each dot is a plane filled with people who have both gifts and struggles.
The life of each person on each plane intersects with that of hundreds of other people.
Some people are influential and/or well-known.
Other people live more quiet, hidden lives but are still very precious to others.
The people on the planes are parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, old and young.
Some of the people on the planes will die soon.
Other people on the planes will live for many more years.
All of the people on these planes have lives that are swept up into the great mystery of God’s unfolding plan.
None of the people on the planes is an “accident” or a surprise to God.
Each person has the dignity of being an intentional and loving creation of God.
Each person is known by God more than he knows himself.
God knows everything about every person on each plane.
God knows the past, present, and future of every person on each plane.
God sustains every fiber of every person on each plane.
Before these people were ever formed in their mother’s wombs, God knew them, loved them, and intended them.
Every one of their days was written in God’s book before any of those days came to pass.
Each dot: a plane. Each dot: a gathering of people. Each person has both a history and a destiny unfolding, and is known to God, loved by God, and sustained by God.
Behold the mystery and the dignity of humanity as seen in a thousand points of light:
There is an old saying that the greatest things in life aren’t things. Our greatest gifts are those we love, beginning with God and extending to one another.
One of the great dangers at Christmastime (and with life in general) is that we maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum, or, as Jesus puts it, we strain out gnats and swallow camels (Matt 23:24). He said this about the religiously observant of His day, who meticulously followed small, technical rules about cleanliness and ritual purity, but neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness (Matt 23:22).
In other words, at Christmas we can focus so much on buying things and arranging various events that we neglect or even harm those who are our greatest gift.
Consider the sad situation that many now largely set aside the once-sacred Thanksgiving holiday when people could spend time with family and enjoy their company. And why is this? So that stores can be open for people to leave the people they love in order to run out and buy things for them. The gift eclipses both the giver and the recipient. And on top of that, we potentially sin against charity by creating a climate that requires the poor and those of the lower-wage working class to work on Thanksgiving Day.
Add to this the short tempers at the shopping malls (often caused by heavy traffic, long lines, and out-of-stock items) and the impression is created that things are more important than people. Not everyone suffers from this, but it is a problem.
The video below provides a touching reminder that the truer purpose of a gift is the well-being of another and the love we can show at Christmas.
The basic scene is that two snowmen are built, a kind of husband-and-wife, snowman family. But one has, and the other has not. Seeing his wife’s need, the husband snowman sets out, enduring great hardship and overcoming many obstacles, in order to get for his wife what she needs. The greatest gifts are those that show care for another.
Through the window, the “creator” of the snowman watches this act of love unfold. At the touching end of the video, the creator is very pleased.
And so, too, our Creator and Lord is watching from the window of Heaven, and He is pleased with our acts of mercy as well.
The greatest things in life aren’t things; they are those we love. And the greater gift this Christmas is not so much the things we give, as it is the care and love we extend through those gifts, and the shared gift of our very selves.
It has been said that the shortest distance between two people is laughter. There is something strangely intimate about laughter. Indeed, it is an intimacy that can often break through many divisions. Upon hearing a joke, even enemies can laugh and share a moment of intimate and mutual joy, or at least mirth.
Watch this video and consider how complete strangers share a kind of intimacy through laughter, and how laughter is contagious. “I dare you to watch this and not feel a certain intimacy with the people in the video!”
I’ve been enjoying the Geico “It’s what you do” commercials (in the less than one hour of television I watch each day). They remind me of a sort of syllogism I’ve used to explain why God’s loves us: God is love. When love is what you are, love is what you do. Therefore, God loves.
Why does God love us? Because God is love and that is what love does: it loves.
God does not love us because we are good or we deserve it; He loves because he is love.
Enjoy these “It’s what you do” commercials. They illustrate an old truth, agere sequitur esse (action follows being; what one does follows from what one is).