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Friday, December 12, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Be A Harsh Judge

      Ok, ladies, here's the deal: we are not perfect. We as moms, wives, daughters, friends?? We will make mistakes today. We will stumble (probably a bunch of times) and maybe even fall. We will say something to hurt someone we love or snap at someone out of exasperated pride or maybe even snub a friend when she needs us most. At the very least we will have a few sinful thoughts brewing in our pride-ridden hearts. But Jesus says that He loves us with and everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). So let's muster up the courage to just admit and accept that fact before we even put our weary bare feet on the floor this morning. Let us just look up to our gracious Savior, raise our hands (partly in praise and partly in surrender) and say, "Lord, I accept that I am far from perfect and I know You do not expect me to be that way today. I trust in Your perfection and holiness and know that it is not because of my clean house or perfectly obedient children (ppffftt. . .yeah right) that You love me. But only because You created me and because You are love."
      So your probably saying to yourself right about now, "Trust me, I already know I'm not perfect. I don't need you to tell me." So why, oh why, dear sisters do we as women constantly beat ourselves up over even the silliest, most insignificant things?? don't do that? Your balanced and emotionally stable enough to smile calmly and take it in astride when you pick your child up from preschool only to realize his pants have been on backwards ALL day?? (yes, that was me...the poor child) Well then a-maz-ing woman, please friend me on Facebook so I too can learn your secret.
     But let's be real here. While most of us may put on a brave face in light of a faux pas moment, deep inside I believe we are all imaging all sorts of gossipy judgments raining down on us. Or am I the only one here? (c'mon ladies, don't leave me hanging here all alone on the crazy train) And I think also that we can be so used to these imaginary character attacks that we don't even realize how tense and anxious we have become. At least I know that's true for me. And when I talk with my very dear (and very admirable) sisters I realize I am far from alone.
     Ladies, I know our wonderful Savior who created us in such love and dedication would rarely, if ever, be as harsh and demanding and even downright tyrannical on us as we are on ourselves. I mean, He is called the God of forgiveness for a reason. (Nehemiah 9:17) When I think of Jesus putting the scribes and pharisees in their place for judging the sinful woman who anointed His feet with her very own tears... 
     Here is a woman, probably a prostitute (Jesus Himself said her sins were many), probably a total spiritual wreck on the inside. I am willing to bet this poor woman beat herself down daily for her mistakes. I am also willing to bet that this woman was trying her best to survive in a not-so-nice world, doing the best she could with what she had. And our sweet, tender-hearted Jesus still loved her with an everlasting love. He forgave all her sins, which were many because He alone could see deep into her heart. That she desperately wanted to change. To be accepted and loved for who she was inside, not for what she did or said or how she dressed. She wanted to be a better person than who she was. If only she could get out from under the heaviness of society's judgments that covered her like a blanket of bricks, keeping her as low to the ground as possible. She longed to live a different way. A better way. She just didn't know how. (Ever felt like that?)
     And if Jesus, the same God who created us in tender love all the way back in the beginning, so loves to forgive - why, oh why, dear sisters do we not forgive ourselves? Why do we carry around our past mistakes like bricks hidden in our handbags, silently struggling with the weight as we smile politely on the outside? If He removed our transgressions as far from us as the east is from the west, why can't we just. let. it. go? 
     Now this is not to say that we should walk around all sin-happy just because He is a God of forgiveness and grace. Remember the words of the Holy Spirit through Paul: "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:2) But it is a heart that wants to be better. That recognizes it's dark parts and longs for a Savior to wash it clean. This is the heart that the God of the whole entire universe, who created e-v-e-r-y-thing falls in love with (doesn't it just give you chills?). This is also the heart that is mightily blessed to fall in love with Him.
     I know, as I read blogs and Facebook posts and listen to my dear sisters, that this is the cry of all our hearts. With one resounding and harmonized voice many hearts cry together to the mighty Shepherd "Yes, Lord! We want to know You more so that we can be more like You!" 
     So, today, I offer two challenges. The first has to do with judging others. I know its a hard thing to admit so I'll be the first to come clean: I have had judgmental and criticizing thoughts about my family, friends, even that guy in the post office whom I have never before met in my life (whew! there, I said it). But God's word says there is no partiality with Him. He does not play favorites. (Romans 2:11) He loves the mom losing it with her screaming kid (you know, the one I just judged as a bad mom?) in Walmart just as much as He loves me. So the challenge is: the next time one of those ugly little thought bubbles pops up and attempts to turn you heart against a person who is probably just doing the best they can with what they have, just pop it. Let's, instead, try to imagine how we would feel if somebody said or thought that about us. Let's ask our gracious God for wisdom to see that person through His eyes of love and for a heart softened and changed. (and let's not forget about our own logs...hmm?)
     The second challenge has to do with judgement of ourselves. Remember what the Holy Spirit said about partiality through Paul? Well, the same goes for you and I. Jesus loves us just as much as that perfectly-put-together mom we are comparing ourselves with. (Because, let's face it, how many times have I been that mom in Walmart losing it on my kids?) So here it is: the next time we have a negative thought about ourselves I challenge us to pray first and second figure out what the exact opposite of that thought is (I am pretty, I am a loving wife, my children are not going to grow up to be serial killers) and purposefully think it. Choose to believe it. (And remember Jesus left His heavenly home to come to this earth and suffer greatly and die for really think He'd do all that if He wasn't crazy mad in love with you??)
     Believe me my beautiful sisters (and brothers), I know this is much easier said than done. But I also know if we ask our loving Father for grace and help in time of need He will provide the manna for us (Hebrews 4:16). Just for today...think beautiful thoughts!

"He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
The Lord favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness."
Psalm 147:10-11