I often speak about seeing the bigger picture. Perspective can make all the difference. For example, looking down from an upstairs window, you may see only the green plants and bushes merging with other plants in the garden. And yet those same plants, viewed from below, reveals a completely different picture. These plants and bushes may be developing flowers or fruit that can only be seen from the ground.
In a similar way, when we look down on those people with whom we share our lives, our vision may also be very limited. Everyone melds together into an indistinguishable group of ‘others’ whose faults and shortcomings make us want to distance ourselves from them. But if we come down from our ivory tower and join them ‘on the ground’ and look at them as our equals in God’s eyes, then we would see details that we may have missed before. We would see strengths as well as weaknesses. We would see acts of love as well as actions that disturb us. And most important, we would see how similar to us they really are.
This lower place is a place of respect. It’s the place where God can show us what he finds so lovable about the people we find so hard to love. It’s the place where we can see how God is at work in them. It’s the place where, rather than trying to change people’s hearts and actions, we find our own hearts beginning to change.
Saint James tells us not to complain about each other. It’s not our role to judge—that belongs to God. Rather than being judges, we should remember that we are fellow pilgrims with those around us, with a duty to encourage and build up each other. We should be patient with one other, just as God has been patient with us.