I believe in you.
No doubt you've heard those words as often as I have. People find this belief very important. They assume it will accomplish something.
Often, it is paired with a similar set of words:
Believe in yourself.
Once again, people find this significant and expect it to make a difference.
I've always found both sets of words somewhat annoying. The believe in yourself mantra is overrated. I could believe in myself all I want that I will become a famous scientist and cure HIV, but all the believing in the world can't accomplish that.
By the same token, I could believe that some acquaintances that I'll leave unnamed could become opera singers. But all the believing I can do won't make that happen.
I found both phrases not only annoying but also vain. As if my belief could make such a truly marked difference. It's not my belief that matters. Like I said, I can believe, and believe, but that doesn't mean anything.
Ideas without action are dead ideas. Ideas should inspire people to do something about the way the world is now. They should make them think of society in a different way, and force them to leave it better than they found it.
We see this in the early church. The disciples took the ideas of Christ and carried them out in life. They combined the idealism of the doctrines they believed with the pragmatic end of spreading and living them in their everyday lives. We see that those who believe in Christ will be doers, not simply hearers of his word, (James 1:22) but we also see how good works without the faith behind them are also dead (Galatians 3:11)
I suppose that's where my issue with both quotes arose from. Believing is of the world of ideas, but, we've seen that ideas cannot be independent of the action they inspire (if they can, they're not worth being thought up) Action is required in belief, belief in yourself or your belief in others.
Looking at those quotes in this light, I recently came by the realization that they are not without their value. Viewed through the lens of God's word, both can actually be quiet beneficial.
The Believe in Yourself one is simply a call to have faith in what can't be seen. It's a call to take a risk and step outside of what's familiar and comfortable. If you go out of your safe little haven with the idea that you will absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, fail, you probably will. But if you are willing to believe there might be hope, that you could potentially make a difference, better things are yet to come. God doesn't really care how amazing you are. You are. He is. You are His workmanship. That makes you good enough. Be an optimist. Be realistic, but still believe that God can do mighty things through you.
The I Believe in You quote is my favorite. It encompasses my spiritual gift (showing mercy - which essentially means liking people even if I don't actually like them) perfectly. It's important to view people through the light of eternity. People don't usually believe me when I say it, but I don't see people as they are, but rather, as they could be, and in a very rosy light, too. People aren't just who they are now. They're not their limitations. People are souls traveling toward destinations, souls who are so much beyond what they truly are. I like the way C.S. Lewis puts it:
"It is a serious thing," says Lewis, "to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."
That radicalized my thinking about people. I am never talking to just a mere mortal. The most annoying, most ditzy, most conniving, most hurtful, most divisive, most unintelligent slobs I know could be the people I see as an angel of light. And my cutting words or vicious glances will be recounted one day.
That's why believing in someone is so significant. It makes all the difference in someone's life to know that someone had the faith to know there were better things for them out there.
It's impacted me. And my faith in others has made an impact, both on them and me.
Here's my challenge for you: View yourself and others in the light of eternity. You'll see change.