I am a photographer. I see beauty in things that many others cannot see. I am told so often that I am crazy for stopping to take a photo of a specific scene and when I turn my camera (or phone) around with the captured moment, there is an instant of wonder in the eyes of the beholder as they see what I had to stop and photograph. This happened yesterday as I quickly pulled over at the lake to capture such a moment. I saw the sun rays spilling onto a patch of yellow flowers and stopped. My friend followed me, bewildered, and watched as I stooped down onto the ground to freeze the moment of God’s glory. When I showed him the photo – he was beside himself with the beauty…and kept exclaiming how crazy it was that I could “see” the shot before I pulled over.
I do not say any of this to portray myself as a fabulous photographer. In fact, the more I learn about photography, the more I find there is to learn! I am still a newbie. I say this because as I was editing earlier, I had a thought. I’d like to share it with you.
Photographers not only “snap” your shots in your session. We do a lot behind the scenes that you may not know about. When I slip the memory card out of my camera and into my computer, there are a plethora of choices I must make – edits I must apply to turn the raw images into beautiful shots that will resonate in the heart of the client. I can soften the image, smooth out wrinkles, brighten eyes, whiten teeth, bring the vibrant colors to life, or change colors to black and white or sepia. Many other changes can be made to the photos to impress the viewer.
Sometimes in life we encounter people who think they are like the photographer. They try to “edit” people, if you will. Do you know what I mean? I am talking about the people who try to change others to fit into what THEY think is an acceptable lifestyle. I may be able to make touch-ups on a person’s photo, but I CANNOT change a person’s inside. I cannot tweak a personality, fix a person’s spiritual life, or change someone’s lifestyle. Nor is it my place to try to do so. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit of God who has the power to do this, and it also relies in part on the person’s cooperation and willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in their life. Condemnation and judgment is NOT our purpose.
That being said – we ARE to encourage people in the ways of the Lord. I hear it said SO often, “The Bible says not to judge, so don’t tell me that what I am doing is wrong.” Whoa. The first part of that statement IS true. We are not to judge. But what about Galatians 6:1, when it says; “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” The key here is “gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.” The difference in judging and what this verse is speaking of?
Love makes all the difference. If we operate in the love of Christ, we will not be condemning. Christ Himself hung on the rugged cross and asked God Almighty to forgive His condemners. If we strive to align our lives with the life of Jesus, He will continue to teach us how to operate in His perfect love…and we will find that instead of being judgemental – or even being completely “hands-off” to avoid being judgemental – we will have opportunities to point people to the One who redeems. The One who saves. The One who can change them. Then all of a sudden they ARE willing and cooperative with the Holy Spirit. He can “edit” them and conform them to the image of Christ.
You see, when we try to do the work of God instead of rely on His Spirit to do it, we become instruments of destruction to the Kingdom of Heaven. When we strive to be true followers of Christ – aligning our lives with the instructions in the Word of God – our lives become instruments of peace and love that are used by the Holy Spirit to increase and bless the Kingdom of Heaven.
What kind of instrument are you? Are you detrimental to the work or are you a vital part?