All of us have gone through those disappointing moments when hope seems to vanish into thin air and dreams are crushed by the burdens of life. When we are literally sucked dry of the joy of life, often by the thoughtless actions of someone only interested in how the events of life affect them without a thought for anyone else.
How you react as a Christian to those moments says volumes about your spiritual life. More significantly how you react to those people who destroy your hope says volumes about your spiritual life. A good test of your character is how you respond to people in your lowest moments.
When Christ was asked to name the greatest commandment of the law (read Matthew 22:34-40 for the full account) He didn’t stop with just one – He gave the first (love God with everything you have) and the second (love others as much as you love yourself). There was a reason: these two commands are inseparably linked together. In fact Christ elevated the second commandment to the level of the first when He said and the second is like it (IE, the second command to love others is as important as the first command to love God).
On a spiritual level the way we treat other people, especially in our darkest moments tells us more about our relationship with God than almost anything else we do. That was what Christ was trying to get across to His followers – your relationship with God is determined by how you treat other people. You cannot love God the way you should unless you love other people the way you should. And how you love other people is evident by how you treat them.
Following a devastating lose in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning was asked for his autograph. Understand that Manning has lived his professional career with the accusation that he can’t win the “big game”. That he chokes when it matters the most. That he will never be considered as one of the elite quarterbacks of all time without more Super Bowl wins on his resume – and time is running out for him. Sunday’s loss may easily have been the lowest point of his professional career. And the last thing he wanted to do was to sign his name for the joy it would bring to someone he didn’t even know.
But even when he could have been excused for taking time just for himself – to get over the emotions that were tearing him apart; when he would have been excused for engaging in some well-deserved self-pity, he took the time to touch the lives of people he would never see again. One headline read: In lowest of moments Manning’s character tested. From a human perspective he passed the test.
Sportswriter Dan Wetzel made this observation: At some point, though, at some level, what really matters about a man is how he treats people who hold no leverage over him, let alone how he treats those people in moments of tumult when it would be quite understandable if he just ignored the request. You can read his entire article here.
It’s an imperfect illustration but I think it gets the point across. He understood that this moment in time wasn’t just about him – there were other people involved. And while his actions may not rise to the level of love as ours should, he demonstrated a quality of character that is greatly lacking in our society today.
If someone who has just lost a football game can act with grace and humility in the moment when his dreams have been crushed, then we as Christ-followers; people who have been forgiven much; people who have the greatest example to follow; people who understand even more the need to put others ahead of ourselves, certainly should be able to follow the words of Christ: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Our actions always matter – but they say volumes about us when our actions flow out of a godly heart in the darkest moments in life.
Stay in the Word