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Unburdened Your Heart

Lesson #7: Forgiveness of others brings us the blessings of Christ

It is as none other than Paul—an old 
man and now also a prisoner of Christ 
Jesus— that I appeal to you for my son 
Onesimus, who became my son while I was 
in chains. 
Philemon 1:9-10

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness.  It keeps popping up in various Bible studies and readings.  And when that happens, I realize God is trying to tell me something.  So, the other day while in my “She Shed” – where I do my Bible reading and mediation – I just sat and did an inventory of the people in my life and those no longer in it.  My question for each face that popped in my head was “Is there something I haven’t forgiven in this relationship?”

There are people whom I actively must work at forgiving.  There’s one person in my neighborhood that, each time I see him I need to remind myself I no longer harbor ill feelings toward him.  It’s fascinating however, to pay attention to my whole body and mind when he enters my sphere.  I remind myself I have forgiven him yet my body wants to remember the hurt feelings.  It’s a brief little battle that, thankfully Jesus and the Holy Spirit help me to win.   In fact, the last time I saw him I thought it was a different neighbor and I waved.  When I realized who it was, I did a mental flip – “Ugh, why did you wave to him of all people?  You’re just not supposed to think anything and move along!”  But waving gave the impression I was happy to see him.  I suddenly realized in my mini battle that it was again the Holy Spirit forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and not just be “neutral” but be kind.

That individual aside, I came to an even greater realization about my need to forgive.  These days I can’t think of a greater forgiveness need in me than to forgive my church.  Actually, just about all churches who have shuttered their doors during such desperate times.  

But let me back up a bit.  Today, we jump into the little book of Philemon.  Paul, currently imprisoned in Rome, writes to a wealthy Christian friend in Colosse concerning the slave Onesimus.  Onesimus took off from Philemon’s household having stolen from him.  Onesimus found himself in the company of Paul and was converted.  And now Paul humbly asks Philemon to forgive his slave and allow him to return.

I remember as a child my mom talking about converted prisoners.  She scoffed at the idea that murderers and thieves could “find Jesus” and change their lives.  She thought it was all just a ploy to get out of jail earlier or to garner forgiveness without truly repenting.  And she may be right in some cases.  Who is to know the heart of a sinner but God?   

I wonder if Philemon thought the same?  To Onesimus’ benefit he had the great apostle Paul standing up for him.   How often have we held out forgiving someone because they didn’t meet our list of requirements for forgiveness?  The person in my neighborhood that I must remind myself to forgive frequently?  He hasn’t ever asked me for forgiveness.  He’s never acted in a way that showed he even knows he needs my forgiveness.

My church, who locked their doors and turned me away from praying at the outdoor steps of the sanctuary, doesn’t see any need for me to forgive them.  The elders and pastor who either ignored my pleas for help or worse, said hurtful things, have not asked for forgiveness.  So why should I forgive them?  Why should Philemon forgive a man to whom he gave so much and then stole from him?

I once was in a discussion about forgiveness during a Bible study.  The leader, who also was an elder in the church, said to the group, “You can’t forgive someone unless they have paid a price or asked for forgiveness.” (There’s that Biblical truth issue popping up!) Now, I’m working on my path from being a “baby Christian” to a mature one but even I know that’s just not sound Jesus teaching.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive 
my brother or sister who sins against 
me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, 
“I tell you, not seven times, but 
seventy-seven times."
Matthew 18:21-22

The thing I like about this conversation in Matthew is he deals with a real world situation.  So many of us keep doing things that need forgiveness from others.  And Jesus says to keep on forgiving – each and every time.

I was reading about forgiveness and came across this list of spiritual characteristics of someone who forgives:

  1. Concern for his place with God
  2. Concern for people
  3. Concern for fellowship
  4. Concern for knowledge
  5. Concern for glory
  6. Concern for blessing

My response to the Bible study leader was that if her “rules” about forgiveness were true then how can we forgive people who have already died but negatively impacted our lives?  Or how can we forgive people that either don’t have anything to do with us anymore or have no idea they did something wrong?  Under her idea so many of us would live with a horrible burden of pain and hurt and anger.  And Jesus doesn’t want that for us.  He wants to shower us with that glory and those blessings listed in the “forgiver characteristics.”

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Mark 11:25

Against anyone – for any reason.  But the most important part of the forgiveness lesson?  “So that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  I want to be forgiven because I know I have a lot for which I need to be forgiven.  Therefore, I need to search my heart and truly forgive our churches.

I’ve learned a lot this last year about compassion and our human tendency to live in fear.  And although our pastors preach to have faith rather than fear, we fall back into the flesh so easily.  I do it, you do it and our church leaders (who are just humans too) do it.  It doesn’t make me feel good to see our churches closed but I also don’t want to have the burden of unforgiveness on my heart and soul.  I realized I can be sad and still forgive.

I like that in this letter to Philemon, Paul doesn’t demand that the slave Onesimus be taken back into the household.  Paul wields a lot of authority.  He could’ve just said, “Take him back and don’t be mean to him.”  But God wants our hearts.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit work on our transformation.  That’s why each time I see what was previously my “nemesis” in the neighborhood I know the Holy Spirit is working in me.  My hand was purposely lifted up to wave at him – not the mistaken neighbor.  To help my heart be free of any last morsels of unforgiveness.

Friends, I have seen the miracle healing of forgiveness in others.  I have felt it in myself.  It’s there for the taking for you.  Let’s be like the father of the prodigal son – from a long way off he saw his son returning.  He didn’t know why his son was coming back.  It could’ve been to ask for more money.  Instead of looking out the window and thinking every bad thought, he ran to him. (Luke 15:20) He tucked his tunic between his legs and ran to hug him in front of the townspeople.  He might’ve needed to forgive him a few more times in the course of their lives, we don’t know.  But the joy he had with that one action has given us the lesson for the ages.

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15 Transforming Prayers

I confess that I am free because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The shedding of His blood paid the ransom for me. The hold Satan used to have on me is broken, and I am liberated and set free! Now God’s divine power operates mightily in me, and I have authority over the enemy who used to control me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

Sparkling Gems from the Greek

Prayer excerpts from Pray It Till You Make It series


A prayer to be deeply knowledgeable about God’s Word

Holy God, I confess that I have spent much of my Christian life hearing your Word and yet not absorbing and living out our Word.  I’ve sat in your Holy presence at church and listened, then walked out of the doors and turned my thoughts solely on selfish and worldly pursuits.  So I often, when I hear a conviction through your Word, I think of someone else who needs to hear the message – all the while it is me that needs to accept the correction.  I allow my endless “to do lists” to take time away from learning more about you, from soaking my soul with your loving spirit.  I allow my “study” of your Word to just be catchy verses that scroll by on social media. LORD, with your teaching and guidance I will proclaim that I am deeply knowledgeable about your character through your Word.  I will be your faithful student.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to live a joy-filled life.

Gracious God your gifts and blessing to me cannot be counted.  And yet so often I turn to the negative parts in my life and place my constant thoughts in them.  When I rise I forget to be thankful that I have yet another day in which to serve you and be blessed by you.  And as I go about my day when you place joyful moments at my fingertips I take them for granted.   When I lay my head down to sleep I can easily recall all that went wrong in the day rather than what went right.  But your joy is there for the taking.  I want to live basked in your greatness, your beauty and your joy.  I can and will, with your help, find joy in every circumstance.  You are working for my good at all times and I just need to remember that promise.  Thank you for giving us your Son who implanted the Holy Spirit in us – a spirit of joy and of goodness.  I pray this in your Son’s Holy name, Jesus.  Amen


A prayer to be a patient person

Faithful Father, I get so caught up in the busyness of life that I forget that my needs and desires are not the same as everyone else’s. When I’m running late, I want to yell at the drivers in front of me for not moving quickly enough.  The slow grocery store bagger receives my glare when she doesn’t work at the same speed which I expect.  Or when a friend doesn’t respond to my text as prompt as I need, I get frustrated.  I’ve come to realize, LORD, through your holy Word that my impatience is an outgrowth of my lack of humility.  Your admonishment to love one another needs to be on my lips when I feel that frustration and anger well up inside me.  LORD, I know there is nothing more important to you than having your children express compassion and love for each other.  Rest your loving hand on my shoulder as a reminder for when I forget this.  Quell my impatient heart and mind and replace it with grace.  In your Son’s name I pray, Amen.


A prayer that I would share the Gospel with others

Merciful God, your Word has healing power for the sick and your Word gives hope to the downtrodden.  Your promise of eternity is a promise for all who believe.  But I allow my worries and my fears about worldly judgement guide my discipleship.  I keep your holy and powerful gifts to myself, not sharing them with those who need them.  LORD, our one true purpose here on earth is to serve you and by doing so we are asked, even required, to speak of you to all who will hear.  Help me to succumb to your strength and guidance rather than that of the world.  I know you will put the right words in my mouth at the right time.  I just need to be willing to speak them.  Each day place someone who needs to hear from you in front of me.  With the strength of the Holy Spirit urging me on I will be faithful in spreading your gospel of Good News.  In Jesus name, Amen


I rest my worries in constant prayer

LORD, I confess that I can cite Philippians 4:6 quite easily but it is the actual doing that I struggle with.  In fact, when I get very distressed, I forget about you and turn inward to try and solve my problems.  Or I call friends and family to lay all my worries upon.  Too often it seems you are my last gasp when all else fails.  Thank you for giving us your Son to remind us that you are the only source we need to turn to in times of trouble.  With His guiding words I will place you front and center of my difficult situations.  Through constant prayer and communion with You I will find everlasting peace.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name.  Amen


A prayer to speak only when needed

LORD, I would like to make this brief but I seem to have an issue with words.  They flow freely from my mouth without filters.  At times I gasp at myself for the words that exit me.  James is so right when he shows me that my mouth is like the rudder for my ship.  And I want to be on the right course with you, God.  Sometimes I need the entire trinity to help me grab hold of my rudder.  But I know with practice, your grace and the urging of the Holy Spirit I can and will be the quiet captain of my ship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to keep my body strong and dedicate it to serve God

Heavenly Father, I regularly make the commitment to keep my spiritual life active and strong.  However, when I make choices about exercise or my diet, I rarely see that as part of my devotional life.  My spirit, my soul and my body all belong to you.   You ask us to be your warriors in the name of Christ.  And warriors are strong spiritually, mentally and physically.  Starting today, LORD, I recommit my entire body to you.  When I am weak and want to forgo exercise or eat food I know just isn’t good for me I ask that your Holy Spirit remind me that I need to be strong to accomplish all that you have planned for me.  I lift this up in your Son’s Holy Name, Amen.


A prayer to live without regret

Holy God, it’s been many years since I accepted your gift of salvation, which along with that gift came forgiveness.  And yet, so often I am unable to forgive myself.  My heart still twinges when I think of the times I lived in sin.  And once saved, I look back at the years I realize I wasn’t fully committed to obeying your Word.  I’ve wasted enough time, however, not accepting your grace.  I am learning how much you love me, LORD.  And with that, I’m working to accept that I am a new person because of your son Jesus.  The old me can’t take up any more precious time when you are filling up my heart with overwhelming love.  I admit I sometimes need stern admonishment from you to keep me on track.  But at other times please send me a gentle kiss or unexpected hug to remind to live in today, not the regrets of the past.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to act when directed by God

Dear God, I used to think that my faith was solely a personal, spiritual pursuit.  But I keep hearing the word “obey.”  I admit that obeying isn’t a comfortable word for me.  It implies me giving up something for someone else.  In your covenant world however, “obey” just means holding up my end of the bargain.  You are always faithful, LORD, and I need to be faithful as well.  James said it best when he admonished us to be “doers of the Word, not just hearers.”  Sometimes I allow the world to drown out your Holy Spirit who speaks your will to me.  Or I worry that I’m not worthy or ready to do your work. But I’m tuning in to you and listening, watching, and anticipating for your direction.  Give me opportunities to be your hands, your feet and your heart.  I will obey.  In your Son’s name I pray this.  Amen


A prayer to always speak kindly of others

Merciful God, so often when I think of sinful behavior, I rarely attribute my own tendency to gossip and tear down others.  And yet throughout Jesus’ time here on earth he reminds us to love one another.  Help me to remember to love not just with deeds but with my words.  You speak so kindly of me, LORD, and I have many, many flaws.  Not only do I need your help in not speaking unkindly, but also in being your servant to exalt your people.  I know that a kind word is all that is needed to cure so many of our world’s ills.  Guide me in controlling my lips so that they drip with kindness rather than bitterness.  In Jesus’ name I lift this up to you.  Amen


A prayer to be a blessing to those around me and my community

Holy Spirit I get so wrapped up in my everyday problems and to-do lists I forget to pause and look at the world around me.  I rush out in my car and don’t stop to say “hi” to my elderly neighbor.  I see the trash someone has left behind at the nearby lunch table and I assume someone else will pick it up.  I watch the mother with two kids struggling to get her groceries in the car and I think, “thank goodness that isn’t me.”  Oh, how I know you keep whispering to me to stop and do your work.  But I prioritize my list and sometimes you aren’t on it.  LORD, I say I want to be a blessing to others and yet I let so many opportunities pass me by.  Today, I will be that blessing.  Today I will recognize the need to slow down, reach out, and do your work.  I will be your mustard seed and help build your Kingdom into all it’s glory.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


A prayer to not be judgmental of others

Holy God, we live in a world that judges us on a photo that gets scrolled by in an instant, our decision at the ballot box, the type of car we drive, or even the color of our skin.  I am guilty of making snap judgements about the people I encounter throughout my day.  But in your world, LORD, we are all equally loved.  I have discovered the uniqueness of your message through Jesus – that you are the father, king, counselor, protector of ALL people.  You are at work in all of our lives, believer and non-believer.  Through the life lessons of Jesus and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I will be the type of person who loves first, rather than judges first.  I want to be loved and accepted for who I am uniquely made to be and I will see others in that same light.  I pray this in your Son’s name, Amen


A prayer to avoid using coarse language

Holy Father, it has become so easy for me to use your name in un-holy ways.  There was once a time that when angered or frustrated I would just say some silly old saying.  But as I drew closer to the ways of the world my language followed.  I want to be closer to you instead, LORD.  I want to speak like your son, Jesus.  I know that anger, impatience, laziness, and bitterness are all roots of my use of foul language.  Help me, Holy Spirit, to cut out those roots so that out of my mouth comes praise, prayer, forgiveness and grace.  I will use my mouth, with your guidance, for these rather than obscenity and coarseness.  Amen


A prayer to constantly praise and thank God

Mighty God, I admit that when things go wrong in my life I am quick to ask for help.  But when my life is running along smoothly or even when a prayer is answered I’m equally quick to forget to thank you.  Each and every morning when I rise, I commit to thanking you for what you will send my way that day – even the “not-so-good.”  Because even in those times I know I have the opportunity to grow in my faith.  And throughout my day I will remember to thank you even for the little gifts you send my way.  LORD, at the end of my day I’m frequently so tired.  But you are never tired of hearing my praise for you.  I will, before my eyes close, remember the ways you revealed yourself to me that day.  Whether you acted as my counselor, comforter, King, creator, or protector, I will praise you.  In your son’s name I pray, Amen.


A prayer to love myself

Heavenly Father, so many of my perceived short falls come from my poor sense of self-worth.  I look in the mirror sometimes and to be honest I don’t always see what you see – a beautifully, wonderfully made daughter of God.  And I confess that my lack of love for your creation can spill over to my inability to openly love others without judgment.  But I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit any longer.  My heart, body, mind and soul were created by and belong to you, LORD.  With the reminders found in your Holy Word to love my neighbor as myself I will look into that mirror with newfound love and admiration for your creation.  Thank you for my life, thank you for making me uniquely me.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen


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Wonderfully Made

For we are God’s masterpiece. 
He has created us anew in 
Christ Jesus, so we can do 
the good things he planned 
for us long ago. 
Ephesians 2:10

A prayer to love myself

Heavenly Father, so many of my perceived short falls come from my poor sense of self-worth.  I look in the mirror sometimes and to be honest I don’t always see what you see – a beautifully, wonderfully made daughter of God.  And I confess that my lack of love for your creation can spill over to my inability to openly love others without judgment.  But I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit any longer.  My heart, body, mind and soul were created by and belong to you, LORD.  With the reminders found in your Holy Word to love my neighbor as myself I will look into that mirror with newfound love and admiration for your creation.  Thank you for my life, thank you for making me uniquely me.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen


I sat and listened to her tell me how she feels unworthy, unlovable, lacking talent and more.  It made me so sad because she was none of these.  What made me even sadder was I realized I’ve frequently thought the same about myself.  I look in the mirror and think, “You look old, unattractive, chubby, wrinkly – very non cover of Vogue-like.”  And then I turn to my closet and evaluate which clothes will fit me that day.  Tearing myself down for gaining those few extra pounds.  And the piece d’ resistance?  Wondering if what I’m going to accomplish that day will be of any value.

I was listening to a pastor the other day who was in the middle of a series on committing our whole bodies – heart, mind and soul – to God.  She went on to talk about how when we struggle with self-worth it affects everything about our lives.  If we get into a mild argument with our spouse, we might believe they obviously think we are stupid or worthless simply because they disagree with our opinion.  We grasp for people outside ourselves to build us up but when they do, we don’t always trust their motives.

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my 
mother’s womb. I praise you 
because I am fearfully and 
wonderfully made;your works are 
wonderful,I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:13-14

How many of us can truly say, “I know that full well?”  We easily quote scripture proclaiming that God loves us.  But do we really believe it?  

Some of us were fortunate to grow up in loving homes which shot us out into the world with a great sense of belonging and love.  That sense gets attacked regularly by the world.  And those of those who didn’t start out that way also experience those attacks of the world. It’s no wonder, starting from a lack of a filled bucket, that so many of us plunge into self-destruction and self-loathing.

When, during a particularly difficult time of false self-evaluation, I looked in the mirror and realized how dishonoring I was being to God.  And that if I could just start with the acknowledgement that God made me and knows me then maybe, just maybe I could grow to love me just as He does. 

We must rest in the glory and amazing work of God in order to fully be His warriors.  That starts with us.  No matter your thick or thin hair, your smooth skin or wrinkles, your short or tall stature, your past, the job you have (or don’t), your ability to arrange flowers or pick the perfect wall color, your knowledge about science or the humanities, God loves you.  He loves me.  I am wonderfully and beautifully made.  I just need to keep telling that to the girl in the mirror.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

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Praise The Lord

Sing the praises of the Lord, 
you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
Psalm 30:4 

A prayer to constantly praise and thank God

Mighty God, I admit that when things go wrong in my life I am quick to ask for help.  But when my life is running along smoothly or even when a prayer is answered I’m equally quick to forget to thank you.  Each and every morning when I rise, I commit to thanking you for what you will send my way that day – even the “not-so-good.”  Because even in those times I know I have the opportunity to grow in my faith.  And throughout my day I will remember to thank you even for the little gifts you send my way.  LORD, at the end of my day I’m frequently so tired.  But you are never tired of hearing my praise for you.  I will, before my eyes close, remember the ways you revealed yourself to me that day.  Whether you acted as my counselor, comforter, King, creator, or protector, I will praise you.  In your son’s name I pray, Amen.


In the late Spring of 2020, I was led to learn more about how to pray.  Using what The Navigators call, “The Prayer Hand,” I learned the five parts to highly effective prayer.  That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t pray short, on-the-go prayers throughout the day, but the Prayer Hand revealed to me what was missing from my prayer life – praise.

Praise is different than “thanksgiving” I learned.  When we praise someone, such as our children or a friend we compliment them for what they themselves have done, created or just are such as their patience or sense of humor.  When we thank them it usually involves something to do with our relationship.  We thank people for helping us or making things easier in a situation.  The same is true for our praise and thankfulness toward God.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise 
his name. 
Psalm 100:4

This concept was so foreign and awkward for me  — it seemed that “praise” was so flowery and silly – that I dove headfirst into figuring out how to “do” it.  And so, I created my 30 Days of Praise blog series.  I took all the different characteristics of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and set about praising them for well, just being the amazing Triune God.  

And although that 30 days was pretty awesome, I still struggle with daily praising Him.  And that has revealed something else about me.  I have a hard time praising others (and myself to be honest).  I’m great at thanking people when they help me out. But just unabashedly praising people?  I realized that effort and awareness requires me to look outside myself and my own “things I gotta do right now” world.  I need to pay attention to the human beings around me.  I mean really pay attention.  To the salesclerk, the deli guy, the mailman, my neighbor, that person I see walking their dog every single day, my husband, my children, my friends – I need to look at them and see them and praise them.  Why? Because they too are God’s creation.  And I can praise God for putting them in this world.

Praising God means honoring Him for the rain, the sunrise, the puffy clouds, the air we breathe, the Son He sent, the joy He provides, the Word we read, the awesomeness of the universe.  We praise Him from whom all blessings flow!  I love the doxology I used to sing in a previous church and it takes on full meaning to me now:

Praise God from whom all 
blessings flow, Praise Him 
all creatures here below, 
Praise Him above ye heavenly 
host, Praise Father, Son and 
Holy Ghost, Amen

I will keep working on my path to praising God each and every day.  I want to be His thankful daughter.  I seek to find ever more reasons to praise Him.  And in doing so my eyes are moved off me and onto Him.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

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Retire Our Gavels

Therefore let us stop 
passing judgment on one 
another. Instead, make 
up your mind not to put 
any stumbling block or 
obstacle in the way of 
a brother or sister. 
Romans 14:10 

A prayer to not be judgemental of others

Holy God, we live in a world that judges us on a photo that gets scrolled by in an instant, our decision at the ballot box, the type of car we drive, or even the color of our skin.  I am guilty of making snap judgements about the people I encounter throughout my day.  But in your world, LORD, we are all equally loved.  I have discovered the uniqueness of your message through Jesus – that you are the father, king, counselor, protector of ALL people.  You are at work in all of our lives, believer and non-believer.  Through the life lessons of Jesus and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I will be the type of person who loves first, rather than judges first.  I want to be loved and accepted for who I am uniquely made to be and I will see others in that same light.  I pray this in your Son’s name, Amen


Recently, my BSGs were talking about why the world’s major religions continue to reject Jesus.  We had a great discussion about the belief systems of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews.  It was great to see how knowledgeable the group was from either taking classes or reading up on the topic.  What stood out to me is how much more restrictive these other religions truly are and how much work they require of their followers to attain their end goal.  And when we start requiring people to work for their salvation it seems to inevitably lead to hierarchies or even caste-type systems. 

You, then, why do you judge 
your brother or sister? Or 
why do you treat them with 
contempt? For we will all 
stand before God’s judgment 
seat. 
Galatians 6:10

Jesus swept this type of contempt away.  In one painful death, we are all promised salvation through belief in Him.  That’s it.  No crazy ritual.  No particular way we dress.  No matter our family background.  No matter our wealth or lack thereof.  No matter our origin of birth.  No need to pray at certain times a day looking in a certain direction.  No flowers and incense placed for offering.  Just, “I believe Jesus is God and my savior.”

What that one act does is it sets us all on even ground.  Because one day, the truth is, we will all die.  Our wealth, status, family tree, how many followers we have on Instagram will not matter one bit.  Therefore, to God, it doesn’t matter right now.  He cares about one thing and one thing only – the salvation of our soul.

So why do we feel the need to judge differently?

Stop judging by mere appearances, 
but instead judge correctly.” 
John 7:24  

Jesus made this statement in defense of healing people on the Sabbath.  The crowd called him “demon-possessed.” He stated that if a boy can be circumcised under the Law on the Sabbath why did they judge Him so harshly for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?  Jesus wasn’t doing the things the way the crowd demanded they be done so therefore He was a borderline lunatic or heretic.

When I embarked on what I called my “Sparkly New Life” a few years ago I realized my greatest issue at the time was my relentless judging of people based on “The Rules According to Kris.”  It’s easy to get angry and frustrated when people don’t obey all your rules of life.  The statement, “I hate people who….” Or “I hate it when…” easily rolled off my tongue. 

I have noticed this, that when a man is full of the Holy Ghost, he is the very last man to be complaining of other people.

D.L. Moody

The topic of judgement has really got us Christians into hot water over the years.  It seems our history of judging harshly while not loving others really turned people away.  And now, we have flipped to not using judgement at all.  All behavior seems to be accepted at a number of our large denominations.  As a regular ole Christian, the topic of judgement has been difficult to define.  I know I’m to love others but what does loving someone who is actively sinning against the Word look like?

James has two helpful hints on how to treat people:

  1. My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2:1
  2. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. 5:19-20

In other words, treat the rich man and the poor man with the same respect.  And when we see a fellow Christian on the wrong tract we are to, with the help of God, try and guide them back to the Word.  

Notice there is a distinction between judging the behavior of our fellow Christians and those who don’t know the Word.  It’s unkind and unhelpful to expect behaviors from people who either don’t know what they’re doing is wrong or just don’t believe in God and His consequences.  But no matter the situation we are to act like Jesus – with lovingkindness.  And for us non-perfect people, with the recognition that the log in our eye is our first priority.  

I am so thankful for the grace that God affords me and the love He piles on me.  The days I leave the house looking like I should never have left my bed.  The days I can’t find my smile.  For the days when my beat-up VW bug was my only transportation.  For the days when I couldn’t afford the coolest jeans.  For the days when my child was screaming bloody murder in the store and I couldn’t quiet her.  All of it – my good side and my not so great side that I present to the world – God loves me no matter what.  I want to be like that for others.  A person who sees what God sees in others. 

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!