That judgmental community - I just couldn't shake it - in fact, I think that this kind of thinking - intolerant, small-minded, ugly judgmentalism - it's one of my most hated attributes about much of our culture. I believe it's why I am so drawn to Jesus - he's the great clarifier of who God really is. He shows us who God really is and how he sees us and those around us. Whether it's a scarlet A for adultery, or an A for addict - we tend to label ourselves and others by our and their mistakes... but that is not how God works.
I love how Jesus responds to the judgmental crowd and the woman caught in adultery in the Scriptures - what he says is just SO SPECTACULAR and he sets us all free from the plague of judgmentalism when he speaks these words: "Whoever has never sinned, let them throw the first stone."
I remember a friend confessing that he had committed adultery. As he told some of us this, he was weeping, I cried right along with him. Some of my friends there, they became angry with him, but I just couldn't. My thinking was, "If John can't stay faithful to his wife, then I don't have a chance." John was and is an amazing man and his royal mess up, reminded me of my own fragility, my own tendencies. I left praying that prayer, "But for the grace of God, there go I." I like John, desperately need grace. I stood with John as a friend like Jesus stands with this woman. In fact, Jesus, in the story, is the only one with her at the end.
But I actually find that I am much more generous with other people than I am with myself. I have sinned throughout my life - lies, lust, anger, outright intentional disobedience... you name it! But there are about 3 or 4 things that I've done in my life that I just can't shake - I can't seem to forgive myself of.
Many of us sit as prisoners of our past.
We are plagued by the things that we've done, and we can't seem to offer grace and forgiveness to ourselves. We join the crowd of judgers - labeling, disregarding, throwing away, speaking and thinking terrible things - but its all aimed at ourselves.
The only way out is by believing the life-altering truth that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. None. Like, at all!
Now those 3 or 4 things that tend to creep up into my mind occasionally - I know that those thoughts aren't from God. I've confessed those things, repented, even gone to certain people and made them right - but for whatever reason, they will once in a while, creep into my thought pattern and I begin the ritual of hating on myself... again... ugh!
Honestly, I think it's the enemy - he wants us to sit in judgment of ourselves, to disqualify ourselves, to become consumed by our own failures. It's funny because he leaves the things that we haven't confessed or made right - he leaves those things all alone. He wants those unconfessed sins to just fester - he won't bring those things up. He'll tell us they aren't a big deal. But the ones we've taken care of, those things that we've repented of - he beats us up with those mistakes, getting us to believe lies - and then he completely undermines the fact that God is FOR us! Then we join him in beating ourselves up: "Maybe the people who sit in judgment of me and have thrown me away are right, maybe I'm not worthy of forgiveness or of a second chance, maybe I truly do suck..." and the lies go and on and on... discrediting the truth of Jesus that we are loved, accepted, fully forgiven, redeemed, treasured, we actually are God's workmanship - his masterpiece and he is longing to use us! We aren't disqualified!
I am truly challenged by this, but I have a feeling that I'm not alone. I'm really hoping that today God speaks some loving truth your way.
May we love, be gracious and kind and patient with ourselves and receive the truth of how God sees us. And may this amazing reality bleed onto how we view others - and may we be known for how we people with amazing tenderness - being full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. After all, all that stuff is what God is forming in us, because he finds us worthy of it. Amen
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