“Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”Uncredited axiom
The old saying above might as well read, “Never judge anyone. Period.” Who among us has truly walked in someone else’s shoes? Who knows the inner thoughts and feelings of others or understands their experiences? Only ONE person qualifies to judge, and I’m not Him.
The Importance of Understanding
All of our interpersonal relationships hinge on our ability to understand one another. Having similar experiences or other things in common aid in that sense of impathy with friends and family. But much of our true understanding of others comes from an intentional effort on our part. We have to try to – figuratively – put ourselves “in the other person’s shoes.”
Failure to do this often results in a failure to effectively communicate, and the relationship will suffer. Husbands and wives, parents and children, and even the best of friends can be torn apart simply because they didn’t make the effort to really understand one another. This lack of true understanding creates barriers that can seem impossible to overcome.
God and Man
Before the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden – before Adam & Eve disobeyed God and sin entered the world – the relationship between man and his Creator was great. They walked and talked together, and the man had a clear understanding of who God was. But that began to change when Adam & Eve sinned and were expelled from Eden.
From that point on, the close relationship with God was put at a distance because of sin, and the world was cursed. Everything became harder and took hard work and effort. No longer did man walk and talk alongside his Maker and have all his needs met. He could communicate with God in prayer, but it wasn’t the same as before, and the ways of the Lord weren’t as easy to understand anymore.
Repairing the Damage
Over time, sin’s claim on the world became stronger. Mankind had strayed so far from Godliness that God began to regret creating these wicked humans. But there was one man – Noah – and his family who caught the Lord’s favor. Noah was a good man, and God saw fit to spare his family from His wrath. He told Noah to build a great ark, a boat large enough to carry two of every animal. And after 120 years, with the ark finished, God sent the great flood to cover the entire earth.
No one but Noah and his family survived this flood. Through them, God would rebuild and replenish mankind. But the curse of sin still existed. So after a time, the hearts of men again became wicked. God’s plan hadn’t failed, however. This was only one part, and it was done to illustrate these things: God’s sovereignty, His holiness, and His desire to restore us to Himself.
But how could God restore that relationship He’d once shared with man? How could he make us understand His love for us? How could we ever come to know and grasp an understanding of the plan He had for us? There was a way to be made, and God had prepared the perfect solution. Our sin had wrecked the relationship, and that sin demanded a price be paid. Only one Person could buy our salvation and redeem us to the Father… The Son, Jesus.
Both God AND Man
God Himself had to come to earth as a human. The baby born to Mary and Joseph was God in the flesh. Jesus grew and experienced all the same joys, sadnesses, and temptations that everyone else did. He was both fully God and fully man. And though He lived in this sinful world like us, He never sinned. If He had sinned, He could never redeem us. His unblemished life was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The price that sin demanded was death, and Jesus endured that punishment for us.
Being fully man, Christ died. He willingly gave His life to save mankind – to restore us into right-standing with God. But being fully God, as well, He conquered death. He not only bought our salvation, but He also paved the way for us to have eternal life in Him! And before ascending to Heaven, Jesus promised that He would return again to take us to live there with Him forever. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, and our relationship with God the Father was restored once and for all.
‘Tis the Season
During the Christmas season, we celebrate the first coming of Christ. But as Christians, we do so while keeping in mind the promise of His second coming. We rejoice that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus, who set aside His riches and the glory of Heaven to come walk among us – in our shoes. We are grateful for the price He paid, for the victory He afforded us over the grave, and for the gift of eternal life.
THIS is what Christmas means to me. How about you?