Have you ever met someone who seemed determined to misunderstand you? Someone that you could not win over no matter how hard you tried? Do you have someone in your life that seems to be blind to what is good about you?
I think we have all come across people who make much of our faults and little-to-nothing about any of our good. The challenge of this type of person is that effort doesn’t seem to make a difference. No matter how hard we try, how obvious the good, it isn’t enough to meet their standard.
We are left hurt and exasperated. Because we can’t seem to figure out what the problem is or why our intentions are not being received rightly, we can feel defeated. It’s as if we need to try something different but for the life of us, we can’t figure out what else to do.
The Fickleness of Man
As I was reading in Mark 7:31-37 NIV, I came across verse 37 and it really struck me the irony of the reaction at Jesus’ healing of the deaf and mute.
People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
What I remembered was how differently others had responded to the same type of miracles previously displayed by Jesus. In Matthew 9:27-34 NIV , the Pharisees were not impressed at all by what Jesus was doing, even though it was just as miraculous in nature as the later event in Mark 7. Verse 34 describes their perspective of the unmistakable power displayed in healing.
But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”
Wow! How can the same miracle have two such opposing reactions? Why wouldn’t the obvious good, evidenced by the healed men, be enough of a testimony validating the good of Christ?
If the event is the same and the person performing the miracle the same, the difference has to be found in the people who witnessed the miracle.
Two lessons concerning Jesus:
- To some, He could do no wrong.
- To others, He could do no right.
Maybe this sounds familiar. You may find yourself in a similar situation. Let’s dig deeper to find out how we can learn from Jesus a root cause of this and how we can respond in a Christlike manner.
The Blindness We Bring to the Table
At first glance, it is normal to keep trying really hard to get through to those who misunderstand another person. We can think that more effort will produce more love in return. But when it comes to Jesus, we learn that since He was perfect, the root issue could not lie with Him. It had to be the other people who were at fault. So that teaches us that we can be doing everything “right” and still get a TERRIBLE response in return.
I am learning that the reason the truth cannot be grasped is found in the ability to see the truth in the first place. It isn’t about the perfect words chosen or the perfect motive being evidenced or even the perfect timing of the interaction/event. What we are learning from Christ is that it had nothing to do with Him why the Pharisees condemned Him but everything to do with the Pharisees themselves!
As we come to this conflict of perspective between Mark 7 and Matthew 9, we only need to harken back to the Beatitudes to learn why some people are “blind” and others are not. I am not saying this explains all conflicts of perception but it does in Jesus’ case and it may in others as well. Only God can confirm if we have done all that we can in our attempts of being understood by another. But we already know from Romans 12:18 NIV that being rightly understood isn’t always going to be the reality.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
So what can explain the difference in perception with some people versus those of others? The Beatitudes teach in Matthew 5:8 MSG,
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
What I learn from this is that I have the potential to bring blindness to the table when interacting with others and vice versa. The reality is that it isn’t possible sometimes to respond rightly and it can have everything to do with US and yet NOTHING to do with us.
How Blindness Affects Relationships
Because the Pharisees did not have their hearts and minds right on the inside, it affected how they perceived the “outside” and interacted with others. It didn’t really matter what Jesus did or didn’t do because He wasn’t the problem, their perception was.
That’s why it wouldn’t make a difference if He tried being “understood” with greater effort. And that’s why it may not make a difference in some of our relationships.
Relationships are a two-way street. To some, we can do no wrong. To others, we can do no right.
But we CAN do 4 things since we know this reality reflected through Christ.
- Examine our own mind and heart to make sure we are not the “blind” ones sitting at the table.
- Let go of the obsessive attempt at being understood by others because the issue may not be with us.
- Recognize and feel the relief from the burden for some relationships that seem wrought with conflict.
- Remain compassionate with others as they struggle with the weight of their own “blindness”.
We may not always be able to get the response from others that we are looking for, but through Christ, we can learn when to know we have done enough. At this point, we can commit the relationship to Him so that He can do what only He can… and remember, miracles are still His specialty!