Draw A Bigger Circle – ‘But, Delbert, he has a tattoo and long hair. I just don’t agree with it.’ Jesus had long hair. Moses had long hair (I watched the movies). Both men and women wore earrings and even nose rings in the scriptures . Some of us missed wonderful relationships sent into our lives by God because we refused to draw a bigger circle.
By Pastor Delbert Young
Draw A Bigger Circle
Draw A Bigger Circle
John 7:24, Proverbs 6:16-19, 1 Samuel 16:7, Matthew 23:27, Romans 12:20-21
Too often, we only associate with people just like us – people who look like us, same interest as we have, similar personality types, etc. It’s easy to include them into our circle. They make us comfortable. What about the people who don’t dress like us, or come from a similar background as we – people we see as “different”? It’s easy to write them off saying, “They come from a different faith.” Or, “They have an obvious addiction and I don’t.” Or, “They are old and I am young.”
What we need to learn is God put every single person in your life for a reason. We need to know God loves inclusively. He loves everyone. This means he showed loved to a person by putting him or her into your life. Someone might not come from my same faith, but this doesn’t give me the right to treat him like he or she is second-class. If I do, I blow it with God. He trusted me with something he loves and I rejected it.
I want to talk today about drawing a bigger circle by finding people we would normally not be friendly or reach out to. You don’t have to agree or approve of everything about them. I’m not talking about spending a lot of time with them. I’m talking about simply being kind, friendly, and showing acceptance.
If not cautious, we will build silly walls blocking us from befriending people God loves.We say, “He has an earring.” “He’s a democrat and I’m a republican.” “She’s a Baptist and I’m a Catholic.” “He’s a Vol and I’m a Dawg, or Yellow Jacket.” We can’t allow labels and preconceived ideas to stop us from drawing a bigger circle. Jesus said,
John 7:24 Be honest in your judgment and do not decide AT A GLANCE (superficially and by appearances); BUT JUDGE fairly and righteously. [Amplified Version]
Notice, Jesus did not say, “Do not judge.” He did say do not decide at a glance and judge fairly and righteously.
Too frequently, we become Pharisees, judging and labeling people because of superficial appearance. We size people up to see if they fit into our box or circle. We, at a glance ask, “Do I approve of their clothes or how they fix their hair?” In a matter of seconds, we scan and categorize people according to our standards and frequently miss blessings from God. Jesus said, “Don’t be so fast. Give people a little space. Take a longer look.”
Much of the way we judge and label people comes from our home environment as children.For example, if you grew up in a home where, say, smoking was sin, when you saw anyone smoking, you immediately labeled the person as a “sinner.” As you aged, you realized a person being overweight, or living stressed out, is as unhealthy as smoking. However, you never labeled them as “sinner.”
We each have many categories in our minds into which we “pigeon hole” people. It’s the NATURAL thing to do. What is the SUPERNATURAL thing to do? The supernatural thing to do is not decide at a glance and judge fairly and righteously. The supernatural way requires my getting to know a person.
The thing causing us to judge people is pride. We “Look down” at people meaning we see ourselves as better and superior. We say, “I would never do this.” “I would never wear those clothes.” “I would never smoke.” Don’t say it. You are judging at a glance. If you were raised the way they were raised and experienced the experiences they experienced and were taught the way they were taught, you would do the same thing they do. Most of our behavior is based on of our experiences. The truth is if it were not for the grace of God, there is no telling where any of us would be.
For example, some people look down at people who struggle with their weight. They say in the back of their minds, “They’re just lazy and undisciplined. I would never let myself get out of shape like they have.” Don’t do this. You don’t know the battles they fight. You don’t have their genetics, metabolism, or appetite. They didn’t get to choose their parents or home life any more than you did. Don’t make judgments at a glance. You don’t know what people have been through.
People overcome things, but there are residual effects. For example, a woman abused as a girl, though she dealt with it, forgave, and, for the most part, conquered it, she can’t help battle it on occasions. This is residual effects. Nearly all have lost weight, looked good, only to find the weight again. Does this make us a bad, inferior person? I hope not. Jesus said to give people some space. Don’t judge so quickly and be fair and righteous.
“But, Delbert, he has a tattoo and long hair. I just don’t agree with it.” Excuse me! Jesus had long hair. Moses had long hair (I watched the movies). Both men and women wore earrings and even nose rings in the scriptures (you just think you have trouble with earrings). Some of us missed wonderful relationships sent into our lives by God because we refused to draw a bigger circle.
You heard about the young boy who came home telling his mother he got a tattoo. She went off on him saying how upset and disappointed she was with him. He raised his sleeve showing her the tattoo. It was an image of his mother with her name under it. She said, “Well, maybe one tattoo will be ok.” You do know Barbie, the doll, now has a tattoo! I’m not big on tattoos, but if your determination of a person is based on if they have a tattoo or not, you might not be a very good friend to have anyway. You would have what the Bible calls haughty eyes meaning you think yourself better than others.
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD HATES, seven that are detestable to him:HAUGHTY EYES, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
Wow! Nothing about tattoos or earrings in there, but heading the list of things the Lord hates is a person who considers him or herself better than others. God tried to put them into your life and you may have missed a great blessing.
Judy worked with a very attractive young woman who had recently gone through an abusive marriage and divorce. A nice young man was very interested in her and repeatedly asked for her phone number. She said no to his advances and for the most part, pigeonholed men as abusive. Her mind was made up. One day he asked and Judy turned to her and said give him your phone number. She trusted Judy and did. Today, the woman and man have been happily married over twenty years. They have beautiful children and are well off financially enjoying life with all the trimmings. My point is she could have missed a person God brought into her life to bless her because of her inability to expand her circle. How many times have you or I missed tremendous blessings from God because we labeled, judged, and pigeonholed people at a glance?
The word prejudice means to pre-judge. We pre-judge (prejudice toward) people based on appearance and superficial qualities. We are often so shallow. I mean, we didn’t choose our race. You are not “white,” or “black,” or something between because you decided. You are because God choose it for you. How can we hold race against another person? Is it not holding it against God? For the most part, we inherited our looks. We can do some things to help, but specific features were nonnegotiable. How can we judge others about things they had no say? Maybe they were not blessed with good looks like you and me, but it doesn’t give us space to judge it.
We see ourselves through special glasses and everyone else through a microscope. There was a woman who went to the dentist office. She saw on the wall the license of the dentist whose name the woman recognized as a high school classmate. The woman felt she had aged well and looked nice, so she was curious to see how the dentist looked if he was her classmate. An elderly man, gray hair, wrinkles, skin spots, etc. came in. She thought he could not be her classmate, so she asked. It was him! She said, “I think you were in one of my classes.” He replied, “Oh really. What class did you teach?”
The culture raising us teaches us how to judge. For example, young men today comb their hair much differently from my generation. To me, it looks like they just got out of bed. Do we write them off because they don’t know how to comb their hair? I know this is difficult for you to imagine, but I grew up in the 60’s back when the Beatles came to America. I let my hair grow down over my ears like the Beatle cut (I had hair then). The same people, who once talked about what a wonderful young man I was, criticized me because of my hair! I had gone down the drain. I was no good now. In pre-judice they judged me superficially. They didn’t know they were judging a very good preacher. I’m glad there is more to me than HAIR and glad God uses me to lead this church.
Even the most spiritual of us need reminding of this. The Lord told the prophet Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint a king. Samuel went and was impressed with the physical appearance of Jesse’s sons. Samuel thought, “This one must surely be the one.”
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height… The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
From this experience, Samuel anointed David who became king of Israel. My point is Samuel needed to draw a bigger circle including the heart of the person.
We all need to remain open and not make judgments until we know someone. It’s interesting to watch when new people come to church. It sometimes seems many of you are more comfortable talking to those who appear “down and out” than talking to people who appear “up and in.” Why is this? It’s because you judge yourself inferior and them unfriendly and superior. Usually, the opposite is true. Financially successful people are often friendlier than those who are not. This is partially why they are successful.
You heard about the man who went to an uppity church wearing jeans, a cowboy hat, and boots. He sat on the third row. People immediately came to the pastor and told him how appalling the man was. The preacher approached the young man telling him to ask God how to dress before he came back to their church. The next Sunday, the man came back to church again in his jeans, cowboy hat, and boots. The pastor jumped on the man saying, “I told you to ask God how to dress before you came back to this church.” The man said, “I did ask God, but he told me he didn’t know because he had never been here.”
We judge people immediately by the way they dress. I have found I preach just as well in jeans as I do in a suit. I’m more comfortable in jeans, but the anointing is the same. What I wear is not a problem to me, but it could be your problem. You might call me at 3 a.m. and need me to pray for you right then. You might imagine what I am wearing at 3 AM. Would you want me to get up and put on my suit? Those things are not what affect the anointing. What does affect it is the attitude of my heart. Jesus said, you could look great on the outside but be full of death and poison on the inside.
Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which LOOK BEAUTIFUL ON THE OUTSIDE but on the INSIDE are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.
Pharisees have a little tiny circle, which is very exclusive. Jesus has a never-ending inclusive circle of love. How large is your circle? The larger the circle you can draw, the more like Jesus we become.
A street person named Ray came to church here. Ray wore overalls, but no shirt under it. He was a friendly jolly person. Once he came and a woman spoke to him welcoming Ray. Ray mumbled something not understandable. Then reached in his mouth with his right hand, pulled out his false teeth, and stuck them in the pocket of his overalls. In the same motion, Ray stuck out the same hand to shake hands with the woman. The woman did pretty well. She processed quickly what to do, drew a bigger circle, shook hands, and then headed for the women’s room to wash. I eventually prayed with Ray and lead him to the Lord, but before this happened, he came up to me after his first time and first sermon here. I don’t want to offend anyone by saying this. Understand I am making a point. He said, “Preacher that was a hell-of-a-good sermon! I’m going to fill this place up with derelicts.” I didn’t flinch outwardly. Inwardly, I was laughing out loud. He did come and did bring street folks to church. After a while, I didn’t see him and heard he died. What if I had judged him, or condemned him and made him not feel welcome his first visit? We need to draw a bigger circle.
We are such a judgmental society – republican, democrat, Methodist, Baptist, catholic, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist, etc. “Delbert, surely you don’t love the Muslims.” Does God? I’m not saying I agree with what they believe, but if I am a child of God, I must love all people. I must draw a bigger circle. I’m not told by the Lord to love only those who believe what I believe. I am told to love. I must draw a bigger circle.
We all have people in our lives we have some sort of prejudice concerning. It could be race, religion, politics, or maybe they did you wrongly and said or did awful things to you. They drew a circle excluding you, so what do you do?
Romans 12:20-21 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Draw a bigger circle. Those coals are not talking about making them suffer. It’s talking about your including them into your circle melting their hard heart. It’s how you overcome evil.
It’s easy to love people like us who have similar lifestyles, religion, political beliefs, skin color, education levels, etc. What I am asking you to do today is enlarge your circle. Find someone who does not fit in any of your pigeonholes. Give them a chance, not a glance. Do something nice for them then see what God does for you. Be kind and respectful. Look outside your circle right now. God placed someone there and he is waiting for you to enlarge your circle. Don’t exclude your blessing. When you love PEOPLE, God will make certain you are blessed.
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