"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
January 25, 2011
A while back I woke up with this scripture on my mind: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (Matthew 7:1) I wasn't sure exactly why that particular scripture was my first thought that morning, but decided that perhaps God was speaking to me, so decided to look up that passage and see what it had to say.
The following verses say: "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." The amplified version says it more clearly: "For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you deal out to others it will be dealt out again to you."
Those are some pretty blunt words! And Jesus was the one who spoke them!!
So often we tend to set a different standard for others than we do for ourselves. After all, isn't it easier to find fault with someone else and talk about their mistakes and what they're doing wrong, than it is for us to look inward and see our own faults and short-comings? If we start being honest with ourselves about our attitude and weaknesses and imperfections, then we have to take responsibility for those things.
I have a Facebook account and some of the comments individuals post at times just make me shake my head in disbelief. Occasionally someone will post a "holier-than-thou" comment about all the negativity, gossip, griping comments that they've seen from others, and it needs to stop or they'll delete you as their friend; but if you should go back and read some of their older posts you'll find those same types of comments that they've made themselves. Perhaps they just got home from church after hearing a sermon that convicted them, but instead of taking action themselves, they try to pass the message on to others and put the blame elsewhere. It's simpler to take on the role of the accuser instead of taking responsibility of being the accused. And that doesn't just pertain to Facebook, but to all aspects of life.
Jesus' words in Matthew 7 become even stronger. "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log our of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
A hypocrite is: "A person who indulges in hypocrisy." And hypocrisy is: "The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense."
Those are pretty bold accusations Jesus makes. I believe that judging and condemning others, while we refuse to deal with our own short-comings, is a great offense to Christ. Jesus is stating that if we try to get a speck of dirt out of the eye (life) of someone else, while we have a big log that needs dealt with in our own eye (life), then we are hypocrites. Ouch!
Sometimes we can get into the bad habit of criticizing others. It may not even be anything big, but we pick at every little thing that they say or do. And it may not be any one person, but we find fault and are negative about everything and everybody. We don't like how someone wears their hair; we don't like how someone does their job; we don't like how someone dresses; we don't like how someone sings; we don't like how the pastor preaches; we don't like how someone disciplines their children; we don't like how someone talks; we don't like how someone drives; and the list could go on and on.
I noticed that I had started being critical, and it was becoming a habit. It starts with little meaningless things, but unless "we nip it, nip it in the bud" (as Barney Fife on Andy Griffith used to say) then we get into the habit of saying negative things about others. I didn't take any notice of it at first because it happened gradually, but eventually there came a point where after Jon and I would have conversations about different people or events or happenings, I'd look back over our conversation and think, "Wow, I was pretty negative! Why did I say those things?" The thing is, the majority of the time it was things that didn't concern me and really was none of my business. But I would just nitpick and say negative things. I don't like it when I have conversations with someone who constantly does those things, yet here I was doing that very thing that I dislike hearing others do. I got to where I disliked my attitude and my judgmental, negative speech.
When we become like that, it's easy to blow it off as, "It's no big deal. Everyone does it! I'm not hurting anybody." Or we think no harm is coming of it because we're not saying those things personally to the various individuals. But our words may be bringing others, who are having to listen to us, down. We may be causing others to become negative in their speech. We may be causing discouragement in someone who needs encouraged and lifted up. And we may be breaking down the trust that the listener has in us, as they hear us talk about others in a negative manner. After all, if we tend to judge and criticize others when talking to them, then what is to make them think that we're not talking about them in the same way behind their back?
Jesus said that the manner in which we judge, criticize and condemn others, we will be judged, criticized and condemned in the exact same way. How we deal with others is how others will deal with us. Do we want the love, respect and trust of others? Then we have to love, respect and trust other people. That doesn't mean that we're necessarily going to like every single person we come in contact with or like what they do, or that we are required to be best buddies with everybody. Some people we will click with and form a bond, and others we will find no commonality with. We don't have to be all things to all people and be close friends to everyone. But even when we come in contact with those individuals who may rub us the wrong way and who we have a hard time tolerating, we don't have to put them down by criticizing or judging. We can keep our mouths shut and keep our thoughts and words to ourselves. And that is hard for us to do more times than not!
I am praying that God will help me learn to keep my mouth shut when I am complaining, criticizing, condemning, or judging others. I am praying for a new attitude that is positive and filled with love and respect for others. I don't want people to see me and want to run in the opposite direction while thinking, "Oh here comes Loretta! I hate talking to her because she is so negative about everything. I wish I could go hide somewhere so she couldn't see me." I'd rather people see me and think, "Hey, here comes Loretta! She is such a positive, encouraging, upbeat woman and I just love talking to her. She's one of my favorite people to spend time with and be around."
Let us each make a commitment to God and to ourselves that we will stop judging others and take the words that Jesus spoke in Matthew 7 to heart. This year let's look for the good in others and stop criticizing and being negative. Let's love others and show them respect. I don't want Jesus to look at me and say, "You hypocrite!" But I want Him to hear my words and see my heart and say, "Well done!"
Loretta and I have been giving up caffeine as part of a fast. In this case, we aren't interpreting 'fast' to mean 'giving up all food or food and drink'. But we are giving up desserts, pop, and sweet iced tea. We're doing it as a kind of sacrifice. There aren't many altars big enough for burning cows.
I've wondered sometimes why a sacrifice is such a great gift to God. It's not like He benefits from a burnt carcass. So why burn a bull?
When a little child draws a picture of its parents, they will treasure the drawing, and hang it on the fridge for everyone to see. The picture might be a stick figure, or just a big head with arms sticking out. But the picture doesn't really matter. It's the fact their kid drew it as a show of love.
So, of course, that's why God loves that we are willing to make sacrifices for Him. It's a way we can give of ourselves, and show love for God. If we gave up cornmeal mush for a year, it wouldn't mean much. But giving up caffeine is tough for us. And it shows that we love God more than material things.
3 cups salted water
1 cup cold water
1 cups yellow cornmeal
Mix together cornmeal and 1 cup of cold water. Pour into boiling salted water, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook on medium heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Cover and continue cooking over low heat for 10 minutes. To serve, spread thin layer on plate. Dab with butter and spread when melted. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Okay, I will admit that I hate this stuff! Ha. But I know that everyone's taste is different and people like different foods. My oldest sister and her family love it and she used to fix it for breakfast when her boys were little. One time I was visiting and she made it and tried to force me to eat some. It made me gag and I couldn't do it. It's kind of like a cornmeal flavored malt-o-meal; but then I'm not a fan of malt-o-meal either, which could be why I don't like this. And I only like cornbread maybe 1-2 times a year, so I'm not a huge cornmeal fan. But if you like cornmeal and malt-o-meal, then you would probably love this for breakfast!!
My parents both really liked buttermilk. Yuck! My sisters and I do not like buttermilk, and none of us drink regular milk either. If we drink milk, it has to have chocolate in it. I remember one time when I was probably 6-7 years old, my parents had drank buttermilk with their supper and had the carton sitting on the table. They had to leave to go somewhere right after supper and my sisters and I were still sitting at the table finishing our meal. Our kitchen was small and there wasn't a whole lot of extra room, so if you got stuck sitting at the back corner of the table you were stuck there until someone on the end or beside you moved. I happened to be the one stuck sitting in that back corner this particular time. My sisters thought it would be funny to try and force me to drink buttermilk. They poured a little in a cup and told me that I couldn't get up from the table until I drank it. I knew I didn't like it and didn't want to drink it. Now picture this: if I were 6 years old at the time Janie would have been 11, Shirley 16 and Linda 19. They were all a lot bigger than I was! I was trying to get out and they had me blocked in and wouldn't let me out, nor would they let me crawl underneath the table to get out. I can't remember how long we sat there, but to me it seemed like a really long time. I'm sure I finally started crying, which just made it more fun for them. I don't remember the outcome, but seems like I finally had to take a sip of it before they would move. It's funny now, but sure wasn't funny at the time!
Admitting weaknesses can be one of the hardest things we have to do.
But when we do so, and take steps to overcome it, it can be amazingly rewarding.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon