“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)
People can develop an attitude toward you without you even knowing it. They may not like the way you look, or carry yourself; they size you up with an outward glance. Others judge you by what you say, giving you a “thumbs down” if you don’t measure up to someone else they know. Then there are those who walk in envy, strife, and imaginations and would rather talk about you behind your back then have face to face fellowship with you.
For sure, there is company that is not worth keeping. But there is far too much cutting off in the body of Christ of those who we should be fervently loving with a pure heart. Paul was cut off by many in Corinth. A few did said they were “of Paul,” but most turned away from him in their hearts. In their eyes, “his bodily presence (was) weak, and his speech contemptible.” (2 Cor. 10:10) Compared to others, he was not eloquent or powerful in the Spirit. He was dismissed in favor of others.
Once again, Paul demonstrated how big a man he was in God by how he responded. Being filled with the love of Christ, his heart stayed large when theirs had become small. He remained open toward them even when they had become closed toward him.
Paul lived out the words of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount. How easy it is to love those who love us. No grace is necessary for that. Naturally, we repay people in kind. If they like us, we like them. If they want to be with us, we want to be with them. Grace though is truly amazing. It is the loveliest thing in the world. It does not size people up on the basis of a standard of worthiness. It gives graciously beyond and despite people’s worthiness.
The Pharisees’ circle was quite small, filled with only those who they deemed of a superior spiritual quality. God’s graciousness allows His circle to increase. He was a friend of sinners. His nature and heart was not to cut off, but to bring in, to gather, to include. He has so many friends because He has shown Himself friendly.
Yes, we may wonder why some people have grown cool and aloof toward us. Don’t let a sense of rejection cause you to reject in return. Don’t let your heart start to shrink. Have a large, grace-filled heart. You may end up with a friend after all.