Tuesday, September 2, 2014

At Least I'm Not Like Her

Sitting in our pews we find comfort. We search around with our eyes until there, right before us, is someone we can compare ourselves to. Then we begin to whisper with our heart. 

Oh, wow, I can't believe she wore that skirt to church. 

I can't believe she has tattoos on her arms. 

Look at that couple. They aren't even married, but they are living together. 

Yep, there's Tom. I seen him last night walking out of the bar and look at him now dressed in his yellow tie and new suit. 

There's Mary Jane. Did you hear about her family? Poor thing. She and her husband are divorcing. Turns out he was having an affair. 

Check out Marcie. That girl is something else. Always chatting it up with someone. I can hear her gossiping all the way over here in my quiet little pew. 

I can't believe Nancy and Tom have five children. They are having such troubles with them. People like that don't even deserve kids. 

Do you see how much weight Betty has gained? 

Carl is over there smells like cigarettes while his Bible is in his lap.

I'd thought Becky was off of those drugs by now, but she looks as if she is on something today.

Look at Alice. She thinks because she is secretary she is better than everyone else. Doesn't she know her son is gay?

Sound familiar? Ever have conversations with your heart? Oh, no one else can hear. It's just you and the heart, looking about and making sure there are others who should be aware of their sin. 

Shameful people. Why do they even attend church? 

"This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"- and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life." 1 Timothy 15:16

Paul is sharing with Timothy from his heart. A heart that once persecuted Christians. One that now is filled with humility and gratitude. Saul may have searched for sinners at one time. Sinners to persecute. But now, Paul searches for hearts in need of Christ. That road to Damascus was a changer. Blinded for three days. He could no longer search for those in need of persecution. He couldn't look outward. He was now coming face to face with his own sinning heart, as God shown grace upon him, with love and tenderness, forgiveness reached his heart and life changed for him. No longer the man to search others, but with his humble heart realized the sinner that he was...is...A sinner redeemed. 

We cannot compare sinners. Sin is sin. It's ugly. It's real. We like to pet our own sin. Pretend it isn't much. We find every excuse for our own, but accuse others. Why? It doesn't make our sin seem so bad. We can find comfort in looking at others. Our aim? To make ourselves feel better. God's aim? To save the sinner. 

God's grace never draws a line with a willing soul. 

"But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!" Romans 5:8

The pew is starting to get a little uncomfortable isn't? I can tell you this; if your pew is getting too cozy it's time to get up and move. Change views. A view that gives a direct line to the heart within. 

"Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matthew 7:5

It's easy for us to judge others when we don't know or even understand the entire circumstance. Everyone comes with a past. Everyone has a story. The journey is our own. The purpose of our journey is to meet up with Jesus and accept Him as our Savior. We must take our eyes off others and seek within before we can begin to grow into the women and men God has created us to be. Part of that journey is realizing that we are ALL sinners. No one is greater. Didn't the apostles have that very argument? 

"Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest." Luke 22:24

Why can't we seem to grasp that there is no one who is a better Christian than another? Just as we cannot compare sinners, we cannot compare Christians. There is no such thing as a super Christian. Let's be real. We all sin. We all struggle. It's too easy to judge others, but friends, we cannot expect from others what we ourselves are not willing to give. 

Our walk with Jesus is our own. We have to stop looking at others to make ourselves feel better. We have all been there, right? I know I'm not the only one. The thing is, we must be honest. Why not be transparent? Allow the world to see that, yes, we do struggle! When we begin to be honest with ourselves we can begin to be honest with others. 

Next time the thought of, "At least I'm not her", pops into our mind, remember...His grace reaches far and wide and you know, she just may be thinking the same thing about me. 

Salvation is for all. Yes, all of us sinners. 

Next time we are sitting in our pew, instead of looking around in search of comparisons, why not bow our head in prayer. Remember, Jesus doesn't compare us to His other children. Focus on the reason we are at church. We got up and readied ourselves so we could worship the King of kings, Lord of lords. Let us get into the Word and search our heart wide and deep. Settle our own accounts with God and allow God room to move and work in others. 

"Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained." Philippians 3:12-16

The more we strive to follow Christ's example and the more we remain focused on Him, the less we will be looking to others for comparisons. As Christ changes our heart, from day to day, to be more like Him, we will begin to see others in His image. We will judge less and love more. Let us look for the beauty in others and always be ready to extend love in our Lord's example of extravagant grace. 


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