My friend, Brenda Gust, is back today to finish her admonition for us to be different from the rest of the world. So many times as Christians, we are far more judgmental of struggling sinners than non-believers. We cloak our gossip as prayer concerns. Sometimes, we don’t bother to hide behind our pointing fingers and ostracize those who don’t measure up to our standards of behavior. Yet, even when an adulterous woman was caught in the act and brought to Jesus, He did not condemn her but acted in love. This Christmas season, let’s make it our goal to share the sincere love of Jesus with everyone. Thanks, Brenda, for pointing out the log in our own eye.
Friends, if Jesus himself did not take on the attitude of someone who is better than every other man walking this earth, why do we think we can? Why do we continue to condemn someone who has fallen instead of showing them grace? Especially fellow Christians who are trying to start over? Are we so shallow and competitive that we can’t afford to allow someone else to thrive in Christ? Are we so greedy that we want to hoard all of that free grace?
Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” The rest of that verse does NOT say something about “unless you don’t like a person – then you can condemn them and hold their sin over them all you want.”
I love the picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. At one point, he left 99 behind to come and find me. He did that for you, too. There’s not a single Christian walking the face of this earth that didn’t need to be saved. There’s not a single one of us born righteous because our parents brought us to church as babies. At some point, Jesus left the flock in the open country in search of you–you meant that much to him. Luke 15:4 says, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”
Oh, do you hear what the Shepherd did after he found the one who had wandered away??? He didn’t yell at him and tell him how awful he was for what he did!! He didn’t call his friends and gossip about the sheep. He didn’t call his friends and tell them how stupid the sheep was and go on and on about where the sheep was when he found it. He didn’t break the sheep’s spirit by tripping him up with shame and guilt. Not at all. He loved that sheep. And I’m thinking we are to act like the Shepherd.
We have all made poor decisions. We have all messed up. Thank God, literally, that the One he sent to seek and save the lost is One who would never act the way we act. God took my sin and my poor choices, and in a tender and loving way that only a father can, he wooed me back into his presence. He talked me into believing that I was worthy of his love. Then he took my sin that I hated and turned it into a beautiful blessing.
God can turn anything into good. So, let’s all stop judging people for what they’re doing today…or did two years ago. Especially if it didn’t hurt us. If it was done TO us, that’s different. That’s dealing with raw emotions. But if we’ve heard something about someone or even if they confessed it to us, let’s not act as judge and jury over them.
It’s Christmastime. I can say it like this: It’s Jesustime. It’s time we start looking like the Savior whose birth we are about to celebrate.
He came to save us from our sin. Sometimes our sin comes in the form of judging other people. Maybe if we, as the Church, stopped making it so scary to confess sins, and became more accepting of each other, maybe the kingdom could grow because the Jesus they see in us would be someone they would want in their own lives.
Just to be very clear: I’m the worst of the worst with sin. I don’t think I’m above anyone. My sin makes me desperate for Jesus.
I’m not better than someone who has murdered.
I’m not better than someone who’s had an affair.
I’m not better than someone who has stolen.
I’m not better than someone who loves someone of the same sex.
I’m not better than someone who is homeless and is less fortunate than me because of choices they have made.
I’m not better than someone who has judged me.
I’m not better than someone who has judged my family.
I’m not better than someone who is a different color.
I’m not better than someone heavier than me.
I’m not better than someone who looks different than most.
I’m not better than someone who has special needs.
I’m not better than someone who has less than me.
I’m not better than someone who lives in a different subdivision than me.
I’m not better than someone with a smaller bank account than me.
I’m not better than someone who has an occupation that could land them in prison.
I’m not better than someone sitting in prison.
…and I sure don’t think I’m better than you.
I just want us all to look different than the world. What we are doing to each other is heartbreaking to God. What we’re doing to each other brings the enemy of our soul joy.
I refuse to do that another day.