Monday, August 5, 2013

Having A Heart Of Grace

Turn on the news and we will see a stumbling spotlight of stars falling from their heights. Not only falling, but getting kicked and stepped on along the way down. Names don't have to be mentioned. If you have watched any news you can easily pick out a fallen star. Easy for us. We can sit back with gasps and judge quickly without knowing all the details. News programs are known for not telling the entire story. They like to highlight some areas, exaggerate the lows, and even add untruths. But we still soak it all in and make judgement. We too sit back and make judgement at the news media for creating such garbage. But wait. Could that possibly be our reality too? 

We are sitting in church and look over in shock as we know where the young man sitting with his mother was over the weekend and now he shows himself in church? 

We are driving down the road and see a group of young people dressed in black and wearing purple hair. We automatically send out judgement. They must be up to no good. Nothing good could come from this group. 

We see a young girl in the store carrying a small child and there again we think thoughts that point judgement right at her. Oh, her parents must have not taught her much. 

We are waiting in the check out line at the market and in front of us stands a man with arms filled with tattoos. He looks a little questionable so what do we do? We back up and switch aisles. 

Any of this sound a little familiar? 

We see a woman with short spiked hair and immediately we call her a lesbian. 

Let's be honest. Real honest. We judge. We judge and think it's all okay until we are the ones being judged. It doesn't feel so good does it? It hurts.

The young woman with the child? She happened to be baby sitting for her sister. 

The young woman with short spiked hair? Over the weekend she cute her hair and donated it to Locks of Love. 

The man with the tattoos? Youth pastor who is touching lives and changing youth in ways I never could. 

Oh, the young man we saw over the weekend talking with people from the other side of the tracks? Yep, he was sharing his testimony with those friends who have never walked into a church before. 

Now, the group of young people wearing black and sporting purple hair? Just kids going to a friend's house to have pizza and watch a movie. The friend? Just happens that his parents invite kids from his school over to get to know them, so they in turn can get to see who Jesus is. 

Yes, we assume and we slam the hammer of guilty down before we ever know the facts. Now, the facts aren't always good. Sometimes we are in places we shouldn't be. There are times we do things we know are wrong. Our decisions aren't always wise. We are sinners. That's not an excuse, it's the truth. We stumble. I can remember how much I stumbled without Jesus and you know what? I still stumble with Him. 

There is nothing about me that gives me the right to judge another person. I am unworthy to judge another. But it still happens. Does it happen to you? We look at others and assume while we pass judgement. In reality, what do we really know? Do we know their past? Do we know what they have faced just this week? Do we know the burdens they are carrying? We don't know their heart. In fact, we don't know as much as we think we do. Most of the time we are wrong, but we excuse ourselves from admitting our failure to give grace and mercy. There is no love in judgement. We cannot look to another with our eyes and tell what that person's soul holds. 

I like what Max Lucado says: "Be careful! The Peter who denies Jesus at tonight's fire may proclaim Him with fire at tomorrow's Pentecost. The Samson who is blind and weak today may use his final strength to level the pillars of godlessness. A stammering shepherd in this generation may be the mighty Moses of the next. Don't call Noah a fool, you may be asking him for a lift." Max Lucado 

"Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes." 1 Corinthians 4:4

We are all a work in progress. It's our journey today that helps create who we are for tomorrow. We are able to make an impact on others with our testimony. We can learn so much from others if we just open our eyes and see with grace. If we could just walk in mercy. If only faith could be seen from our lives. Just think of the impact we could make. (Micah 6:8)

There is enough judgement in this world. Do we really need to join in that cause? Of course, we know right from wrong. We know sin. But we tend to forget our own sin and see it in the lives of others. We seem to excuse ourselves of sin. We can have the attitude that because we are Christian we are better than another. Oh, how far from the truth could we be. We go to Christ in search of mercy and grace, but we aren't willing to give to others. This is not the heart of a Christian. 

We give up on people so easily. We give it a try, but when that person doesn't come to Christ or they stumble along the way, we simply give up. Why are we giving up on people? As Christians aren't we in the people business? Too many times we shut people out because they aren't living up to our standard. Maybe they are different. Just maybe their sins are different from ours and just what standard are we to measure? It's not our own. I am to measure myself against the Word of God. He is my Judge and my Redeemer. He is the God of second chances. I regret to think about what could have been in the lives of those given up on just because they are a little harder to reach. 

For me, part of my growth in Christ is learning to not assume anything. It's not casting a glance at another in judgement. It's loving beyond what I think my eyes see or what my ears are hearing. It's giving people a chance. A second chance and a third. It's realizing that I am a sinner in need of grace. It's seeing people with love. It's not seeing the sin first, but first the heart. I am to hate sin, but love the sinner. If I judge first, how then will I ever get the chance to love them? Just maybe God opened that door and allowed our paths to meet? Nothing happens by chance. Too many times I have pushed people out of my path because my judging eyes cast a stone before I allowed God's perfect timing to create a moment where grace passed and mercy was given. 

Let us never give up on people. Don't count a person as a loss cause. May we never say, "There is no hope for her." We are ambassadors for Christ. May we live love that our lives would speak volumes for who Jesus is to us. May each day we pray to be used of God for His glory. Let us walk in love and not in condemnation. Sharing with a world the grace of God  that reaches far beyond judgement and sin. Amen

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