“DANG!! That boy got a BIG head!”
“Why is he sagging his pants, he must be a thug…is he a thug?”
“She dress like a striper.”
Or my favorite…
(The silent side eye look you give when you judge the shoes someone is wearing).
Why are we so quick to point out the weaknesses and low points of others instead of seeing them as beautifully and wonderfully made? Why do we immediately think and judge others harshly when we have no idea who they are and where they come from, without having compassion first? Our hearts are so prone to this, including mine. Where does this come from?
I remember senior year of college when I was living with a family who looked and did life differently than how I grew up. At first it was cool, but then I started to get annoyed and aggravated with what I saw, especially with the mom. There is something about living with people that God in His mercy reveals about your heart that you didn’t notice before; like how selfish you are, how controlling you can be, and uphold unbelievable expectations. At least for me He did.
How the conversation was brought up I don’t remember, but I was venting (gossiping) about how I was feeling with one of my best friends and she asked me a question that stuck with me, “Why are you so dialed into what she does wrong and not in what she does well?” That convicted me.
Mark 7:18-23 tells us that it’s not what a man eats that makes him unclean, but what is already in him, “‘Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?' (Thus he declared all foods clean). And he said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’“
The default posture of our hearts is not to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. When we aren't first captivated by the love of God for us, we definitely don't love people as we've been called to. This is a result of being born into sin. Jesus says in Matthew 12:16,“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” And that I will be judged for every carless word I speak. So how poorly I was speaking of this family that took me in, every ill thought, every careless joke I made about people, I will give an account for before God. How hopeless and lost would I be if it had not been for Jesus paying my debt on the cross where God’s righteous and just wrath towards my sins were instead taken upon Jesus, in my place?
It was Jesus’ blood that covered and washed me clean that I now live forgiven. It’s no longer me trying to modify my behavior, but live as a new creation with a transformed heart. A heart that’s regenerative and old sinful habits that used to taste good now leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. What brings me joy and gratitude is that on the cross as Jesus "who knew no sin, became sin, so that through him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God," (1 Corinthians 5:21) and through my confession and repentance God now sees me as blameless. What?! And I don't deserve it... as he suffered with flesh ripped from his body; beaten beyond recognition, a crown of thorns smashed into his head, with thick nails, hung Jesus by his hands and feet. He became a spectacle, and He was not ashamed of me as He hung. Being spat on, mocked, and betrayed. The crazy thing is, He did not sacrifice Himself for a good person lol… He did it WHILE I was still a sinner. Not when I got right, but in my mess, your mess He took our place. Not once did He recount, and that’s what I love about God.
I know this is not the most beautiful scene we like to imagine as we think of Jesus, but I’m afraid that this very image of our Savior has escaped us. It’s when we remember that apart from His grace I would still be under God’s judgment. Now that I am in Christ, I'm free from being the harsh judge of others because there is only one Judge. I can be more apt to identify the skills and beauty of others and be gracious in their shortcomings because God has been so gracious with me when I miss the mark. It’s no longer people measuring up to my impossible standards that I don’t even uphold, but meeting people right where they are because Jesus met me where I was.
Interestingly enough, it’s God’s mercy that when we do highlight a flaw in someone, most likely you don’t like that about yourself, (Matthew 7:1-5). However it’s in that beautiful space where the Holy Spirit reveals your heart towards people or an individual. How we treat people reveals how we feel about God. If we don't love God first and remember He first loved us, and His love fuel us into joy, it's harder to be merciful towards ourselves and other people. Our repentance keeps us running toward God’s grace and not away.
I’m encouraged that we’re all ever growing, ever transforming from one degree of glory to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18). By resting in who God says He is, drawing near to Him and rejoicing in the finished work of the cross, and that Jesus conquered sin and death by raising three days later, I am free from judging others wrongly. I will still have to hold every thought captive and submit them to God, (2 Corinthians 10: 5-6). I can count on prayer and close friends to lead me back into truth, for mercy triumph over judgement.
I love you!