On a recent visit back to the United States I met with an old friend whom I hadn't seen in over twenty years. She brought a gift to me, a photograph that made me gasp. In the photograph, I saw myself with a group of high school friends. I remembered well what I'd felt that day-confused, rebellious, high on drugs, and without hope. At first, I didn't want to keep the picture. But then I realized what a wonderful testimony it is of the huge change that God had made in my life over the years, turning despair and emptiness into fullness of life and hope in him. If God could change me, then surely he can change every one of us who turns our life over to him.
"No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. " (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
How much grace and mercy God has shown to me. I can barely recognize myself in that old photograph and I surely don't think of myself that way anymore.
When we set our focus on his grace, then we see others according to their newness and potential in Christ. He has given me a special pair of glasses: the glasses of hope through which I see others as new creatures in Christ being transformed into his image just as he is transforming me. To the degree that I remember his grace to me, I am able to extend that same grace to those around me.