“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him…” (Mark 10:21)
How often do we really look at people? In our “I have 5,450 friends on Face Book” culture, it is so easy to not look at each other. Oh, we’re quick (especially us preachers) to tell people how they should live, what they should and should not do, where they should and should not go, etc…; but do we take the time to truly look at the folks we’re talking to? In reading Mark 10, I was struck by the way Mark described Jesus’ reaction to the “rich young ruler.
The young man had come to Jesus, curious as to how one goes about gaining eternal life. The conversation was not too intense at first. Jesus tells him, “You know the commandments.” The young man replies, “I’ve kept those all of my life.” And then, instead of immediately launching into “You need to do this” or “You need to do that,” Mark tells us that Jesus looked at him. So often, we spout off spiritual prescriptions to people without taking the time to ask God to help us see them as He does. We have become a society of people who prefer surface level relationships, and very rarely take the time to go deeper. We spend hours looking into the computer screen, but have a hard time looking into each other’s eyes. Check out the progression in the verse above: Jesus looked, and then he loved.
How can we love people we don’t look at? I believe if we would slow down, pray for wisdom and discernment, and ask God to help us see people by his Spirit; we would be able to truly love them. Jesus looked at the young man in our verse, and he loved him! True spiritual insight will move us to respond from a heart of genuine love and concern, instead of a desire to hear the sound of our own voices. Like Jesus, if we would but look, and let God fill our hearts with love for those to whom we would minister, we would then be ready to meet the real need in their lives. Only those who look and love can discern what it is that a person needs to hear. Remember, Jesus looked, loved, and then spoke.
Sadly, I must confess that there have been times when I loved the sound of my own voice more than the person to whom I was speaking. I just couldn’t wait to offer my “two cents worth,” and probably what I said did more harm than good. Jesus, motivated by love for the young man in our verse, clearly saw the area of need in his life, and addressed it with laser precision. People don’t need flippant, trite, prepackaged responses; they need our attention and love. Jesus was able to be brutally honest with our young man because he loved him. He saw the man’s heart, which revealed the man’s need, and then, with love and clarity, provided the answer to his initial question.
If we really want to connect with people and truly minister to them, I think perhaps we should remember: look, love, and then speak.