So much of life benefits from a simplified approach. But what if I were to tell you that there is one area in which wisdom pleads for you to develop a complexity mindset?
What Demands a Complexity Mindset?
Our fellow human beings. What we believe about them- how we see them- matters. It matters for the brief time they walk this globe, and it matters for eternity.
Why is a Simple View Damaging?
How we view others is bound to come out. It comes out in the words we say, the tone in which we say them, the looks we give, the attitudes we have, and our overall demeanor.
Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Our Beliefs Can Shape the Path of Another Person’s Life
For good or evil, the beliefs we have about others and, consequently, the words we say to them or of them can have great power in shaping their futures. I’ve heard a number of adults recollect the top things said to them that molded the path they took and the way they walked along it.
So sadly, some of the first things out of their mouths are thing like, “You’re just a loser,” “You’re weird,” “You’re hard to love,” “You’re selfish and wasteful, and you always will be,” “I don’t like you,” “You’ll never amount to anything,” “If you go down that path, you will ruin your life,” and “You can’t do that.”
For some, those phrases are fuel, fuel to prove them wrong. Yet, that doesn’t mean deep wounds aren’t made in the process. For some, it is easy to dismiss the phrase but the relationship is severely damaged. For others, negative perspectives of others became their own.
One I hold dear died last year. She died young. Her whole life, her family treated her, spoke of her, and spoke to her, as if she were scum. I can remember as a child that whether her little sister cried or something got broken, she was always the one pounced on as the scapegoat. It wasn’t fair. I don’t wonder whether that impacted her. I know it did.
It’s Not Just the Words You Say
Since it is from the overflow of our hearts that our mouths speak, it is little wonder why God commands us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). We have to guard how we view each other.
And We, as Humans, are Quite Complex.
We were made in the image of a communicating, creative God, with a will to act. In His image, great potential lies in each person. Potential to will and to act for God in ways that, empowered by God, can change history. This also means that, if we aren’t led by the Spirit of God, there is great potential for whole worlds of evil to come about through us.
The Way We Speak into Each Other’s Lives Can Be the Tipping Point.
At any given moment, the individual standing in front of us might be on a precipice between honoring God in some crucial element or dishonoring Him. The way we speak into the lives of others can be a tipping point for them. And it starts with how we view one another.
It’s More about How we View God
It’s honestly more about how we view God than anything else. Romans 3:23 makes it clear that all humans have sinned and come up short when it comes to God’s standard of perfection.
What makes us complex essentially, is that God desires to dwell in us and enable us for good with the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:15-23, Romans 8:1-17). Our complexity is that the almighty God created us for His glory and moved heaven and earth so that our relationship with Him could be restored. He created us for an eternal relationship with Him ( What is the Meaning of Life?; John 17:3; Romans 8:32:
And He holds nothing back for His own that ask Him, recognizing their weakness and inability, to work in them His will. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Slap Our Hands Over Our Mouths
If we view God in all His glory and power- If we see His zeal and fervor to save and work in us far beyond what we could do on our own, our awe would drive us to slap our hands over our mouths and forbid judgmental statements toward others. Just take a look at this section of Psalm 18– how serious and zealous God is it fight for redemption. The blasts from His nostrils expose the ocean depths as He comes to the aid of one in need who calls out to Him.
A Right View of God Forbids Arrogant Judgment
For this God is our God for ever and ever (Psalm 48:14a). If we view Him rightly, it is hard to slap a judgment on another person, believe it true, smack the dust off our hands and walk away in arrogance.
He is resplendent for:
- Turning weakness into strength
- Making all things new
- Making broken things whole
To reject one He has made in our own hearts, to label them as worthless, stupid, unchangeable- (fill in any negative word here) speaks more to our view of God than our view of others.
Our Labels Prove Our god is Too Small
If a label (however true it may be from a human perspective- keeping in mind that apart from Christ, we can do no good thing-John 15:5) that we give another person leads us to self-justify our direct disobedience to God’s command to love others practically and deeply, then our view of ourselves has become too great and our view of God too small.
Tearing Others Down to Build Ourselves Up
It is so easy to tear someone else down in our heart and with our words and attitudes in order to build ourselves up. This is pure selfishness and conceit. It is earthly wisdom that destroys rather than heavenly wisdom. James 3:13-18.
When Our Lenses are Broke
Yet, I have seen dear ones whose lenses seem to be cracked to smithereens. They push away even those closest to them with a heart belief and words to back it up that says- “This person is XXX and is capable of no good. They can only do bad and hurt me.” They believe the wildest, most untrue things about others, and misinterpret even the good things done as evil.
It is as if someone at some dark moment of their past hurt them so deeply, so utterly, that they can never let someone close again. If they believe that all people are only capable of failure and causing them pain, then when it happens, it is just what they expected. It is hard to be hurt by a person if you believe they are only capable of hurting you.
Believing God Could Expose them to Pain
But, if God is capable of working good in others, and this wounded soul begins to believe in the potential of another– and then that other lets them down or hurts them- well, it would be too much to bear. Perhaps for them, it is much more easy to believe God is not capable of working in anyone and that all people are only capable of hurting/being stupid/making poor choices, etc. At least that way, their wall is high enough that they will never be let down or hurt the way they were in the past.
Unfortunately, this seems to backfire, leaving them in a world of imagined evil that can hurt worse than real life pain. I don’t believe authentic wounds of real life relationships with real, complex human beings are something to build walls against. How can you experience the highs of joy if you can’t experience the lows of sorrow?
Whether this speculation is accurate at all or not, it is so painful to watch loved ones like this pushing everyone- acquaintances, friends, children, spouses- away to their own detriment and the destructive wounding of others.
God Can Make These Dear Ones Whole
It’s a good thing that we serve a God who is in the business of healing even the most broken places in our lives. When we are made whole by His hands, we can serve Him with whole hearts that love Him and others in a way that He designed us to.
Cultivating a Complexity Mindset
So, when we brush past that person in PJ’s at the store, face the individual on the street corner as we wait for the light to change, or head out to dinner with the loved one that has hurt us over and over, we would do well to hold the tongue of our heart and believe- this is an eternal being, made in the image of God.
God can do the impossible for His kingdom in and through this person. Satan would love to destroy this person and as many others as he could through them. There are no easy, simple lines to draw.
May we let eternity come to bear on how we look at others- what we believe about them- and how we speak into their lives.
Have you seen the complexity mindset in action? Or have you seen someone judged unfairly that either rose above it or got crushed in the process?
Please help us have more pictures of how this plays out in life by sharing in the comments below!