Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Judge not


We were all on eggshells this morning.  Three of my children woke up on the wrong side of the continent and were doing their due diligence to disrupt the peaceful morning that I was determined to have.

This is becoming an all-too-familiar scene: out of diapers, out of potty training, and out of biting, I have entered, “bickering”.  Bickering, backbiting, and selfishness.  There are days that I feel like I could trade my blouse for a black and white striped shirt and blow a whistle all day long, calling foul after foul and assessing penalty after penalty.  I grow oh-so-weary of it.  I am sometimes weary of it before I even get out of bed!  The inmates are attempting a hostile takeover of the asylum, and I wrongfully at times feel powerless.  I reach for the referee outfit in reactionary posture, and forget that I am really the coach.

Today it was a Pharisee-fest.  I had four little Pharisees, tooting their own horns, calling out law violators, no one listening, not one sign of honest repentance in sight.  Any schedule progress had ceased. 

I didn’t just have Pharisees.  I had judges.

So we sat down to morning Bible story.  I am again, grateful and humble, and thankful that God meets me in the chaos.  He meets in real time, when I need Him, and when my kids need Him.  When I first  started doing Bible time with my kids, I believe that I was the one reaping the most benefit.  And while that feeling still holds true, I now can see that He is giving my children exactly what they need, too.

Although I wanted to pounce all over Philippians 4:8 because I had heard one too many “jerk!”’s and “it’s not fair!”s, and did talk about that with them later, the Spirit was gently nudging me over to Matthew, to the words of Jesus.  To “judge not”.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.   For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.   And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?   Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”--------Matthew 7:1-5

I had the opportunity to serve on jury duty in December of this past year.  A juror is able to hear all of the evidence.  She is educated in the requirements of the law, and the stipulations under which she can decide innocence or guilt. As a collective group, the jurors reach a verdict. They are expected to do so and are charged with deciding honestly and justly.   But the execution of punishment is up to the judge. 

Why?  Well, the judge has also heard all of the evidence.  There are additional facts in a case and facts about a defendant that judges have and jurors are not privy to. But probably most importantly, the judge is the expert in the law and what it requires as a penalty.
I can see behaviors in our world, and when supported by evidence and by knowledge of God’s commandments, can render a verdict.  But I am not the one to issue the penalty. 

God is a perfect judge.  He has intimate knowledge of each of us which we don’t have of ourselves.  He knows our motives, our weaknesses, our hurts and fears, our desires.  He knows where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.  He has a perfect, all-encompassing viewpoint of the circumstances of each and every person who has ever, or will, live. 

With a log in my own eye, my vision is distorted.  When I want to be the judge of my Christian brothers and sisters, I want to elevate myself to be like God.  Not only can I not see them fully or me fully, I have a huge log in my own eye: pride.  As long as that pride remains, I will never see clearly.  I will operate out of a distorted view of others, and will accomplish absolutely nothing for the Lord.  I will be as a “clanging brass or cymbal”, offensive to all and blind to my own hypocrisy.  I will not sow, and therefore will not reap.

And when I judge the world-----not  being a juror, but being a JUDGE------and executing  the punishment of not sharing the gospel because I feel like I  have been offended by their actions toward me, or just by their sin in general------how can I possibly be keeping His commandments?  “If ye love me,” He said, “keep my commandments.”  How can we follow the Great Commission as a judge?

No------we must follow it as a servant.  After all, we aren’t the ones who are being offended.  God is, and He is the one who wants us to go unto the broken and the sin-sick and share His love.  (I realize that Paul said that the saints shall judge the world, and shall judge angels, in 1 Corinthians 6.  But that “shall” tells us it is for a future time.)    

When my children judge one another by using cross words or other acts of retaliation, do you know who gets judged?  They do.  They are judged and punished  for their retaliatory deeds.  If they would worry about correcting their own character flaws, they would be happier, more humble, more grateful, and we would have a more peaceful, joyful day.  They would accomplish so much more by working together! 

Sisters, what would our churches look like if they were filled with servants of one another, instead of a Supreme Court?  How much love could we pour out onto this dying, desperate, hurting, sinful world?  How much more Jesus would they see?

I would love to tell you that the bickering ceased.  It did for a time, most of the day in fact.  We had an opportunity to confess the logs in our own eyes, myself included.  We went around the table and complimented one another, some begrudgingly, others willfully.

Sometimes as a mama I have to remind myself that I am mainly a servant, and not a judge all of the time.  I can judge my children’s behavior, and I am expected to and to act accordingly.  But the heart matters are left up to the Lord.  I inform, I train, and I pray for, but the work in their hearts is God’s work to do.  I have to trust that the wisdom they get from me, that I get from Him, will be like my Brussels sprout seeds-----buried deep, with all the right elements in place, but waiting on a whisper from Him to get moving.

Love to you all-----

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Book Review: "And It Was Beautiful"

I received  a copy of the book, And It Was Beautiful, by Kara Tippetts, in exchange for an unbiased review.

And It Was Beautiful  tells the story of the end of the life of Kara Tippetts, a 39-year-old pastor’s wife whose life was cut short by metastatic breast cancer.  The mother of four young children and friend to many valiantly battled breast cancer using conventional therapies in an attempt to live as long as she could.  This book chronicles much of that journey, as it is a compilation of her well-read blog, “Mundane Faithfulness”.  Although the story is a tragic one, it is not the tragedy that makes the story. 

Kara was a beautiful person.  I feel as though she and I would have been wonderful friends, and I am sure that I am not the only person who didn’t meet her in this life that holds that opinion.  You see, this story is one of triumph.  Not triumph over cancer, and not triumph over circumstances.  But triumph over SELF.  Kara truly did see the grace that God provided to her at every single twist and turn in her story.  And she so very often chose faith over fear.  She chose His goodness over her desires, and His plans over her time frame.  Her writings are a modern-day primer on suffering.  Kara's writing style is informal and conversational, while simultaneously holding much depth.  This book would make a great devotional-type read, particularly for those who are in the midst of suffering.  It is a humbling reality-check to our selfish natures.  It truly would be good for those who ask that age-old question, “But where is God in my suffering?”

Reading this book is a precise and particular reminder that He is right there, with outstretched arms of love, all of the time.