Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. Matthew 7:1,2
As our patience and love get stretched by difficult times or people, our human nature tends to judge those people or events that are causing us pain or inconvenience. We may not consciously do that, but, with a little push from our enemy the devil, we label, putting them in a safe box that tends to make us feel less out of control, depersonalizing those people or groups, and placing a nice safe wall between us.
Most of us would not intentionally do this, so we need to stop and allow the Holy Spirit to show us. Where have we done this? How would he have me respond?
Where are you in a difficult relationship, maybe with a family member or group with different and conflicting beliefs or expectations? What issue tends to stir up your negative emotions, like anger, resentment or feelings of rejection or pain? How have you reacted?
We are alerted to a powerful biblical principle in Galatians 6:7 that we always harvest what we plant. As you read Matthew 7:1,2 above, notice that Jesus applies this to judging others. If we judge, we will be judged in the same way. Do you feel you have been judged unfairly? Be careful. Often, rather than that causing us to react to others with more compassion and empathy, it may cause us to respond by judging those who have hurt or rejected us.
Rather than respond in that way, let’s choose to rely on the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with God’s love for those people. Let’s forgive them and repent of any way we may have judged them. Then, let’s forgive ourselves for labeling, judging and building walls, when Jesus tells us to love and forgive. Remember he does this because he loves us and knows that it is best for us.
Only Jesus has been given the authority to judge. He is the only one who is the just Judge, not us. When we trust him to do that, we can rest and be filled with his peace that will protect our hearts and strengthen our relationships. We need more of that! Not judgment.
Dear friend, may you be filled with deep and lasting peace as you forgive and release those people or groups who have hurt, blocked or cause you to feel shamed and rejected. In your spirit decide never to judge others, but to see them as Jesus does, as wounded and broken people like us, deserving of our compassion. Amen.
Mary Sumner, June 24, 2020
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:12
Believe it or not, this disturbing and tragic time of pandemic will be over. It has been indescribably unnerving, life-changing and traumatic on many levels. And yet, God has been faithful to use it in many good ways, too, perhaps, in ways we have not yet understood.
We have heard many people comment on how this danger has brought families together, caused us to appreciate little things more, and forced us to slow down to re-evaluate our lives. For those of us who are believers in Jesus, it has drawn us closer to God, caused us to be more dependent on him and grateful for all he has done.
So, let us imagine that next week we could actually, realistically, see the end of this painful time, what would you have learned? As you look back at it, what would you not want to forget? What changes do you still want to occur? What things had you hoped you would have learned, but still haven’t?
It is still not too late. Why not write your list down? Then ask God what he wants to tell you about it. We know he has something more for us to understand before the end of Covid19. What would that be for you personally? May I challenge you to ask Jesus?
Dear friend, may you overflow with confident hope for the future, believing that you belong to a faithful God who loves and protects you and gives you all you need. As you stop and journal, may you be encouraged about what God has done and what he has taught you. Then, may you take the opportunities God gives you to encourage others armed with what you learned. Amen.
Mary Sumner, June 17, 2020
We love each other because he loved us first. ~ 1 John 4:19
Do you ever find yourself sitting on the sidelines, watching others contentedly reading the Bible, praying, and serving God and others? If we feel that way, it may be a symptom that we are not actively seeking God and receiving his love. We have discovered that, we may think we love God and others, but unless we first receive God’s love, and continue to seek to be filled with it, we will be unable to truly do either.
One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to soften our worldly, hardened hearts as he draws us to Jesus. When we are willing to believe in Christ, the Spirit fills our hearts with God’s love (Rom. 5:5), not just once, but whenever we are needing and willing to receive it. As a result, gradually, we begin to love what God loves: God, others, ourselves and all the beautiful, glorious things he created. In doing so, we discover the very reason for which we were created, to be in intimate relationship with God.
Everything God does for us is motivated by his love. God’s Word tells us we are to imitate Christ, to become more and more like him. That sounds impossible, but as we are created in his image and likeness (Gen.1:26), with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can do it! Therefore, our motivation eventually should become the same as Jesus’. God’s love begins to compel us, to move us into action for God’s glory and other’s benefit. (2 Cor.5:14)
That love, that motivation, is the most powerful force in the universe. Knowing the suffering and pain that awaited him, Jesus chose to be tortured and to die on a cross for us. He did that, not only to obey the Father, but “for the joy set before him” (Heb.12:2), since in doing so, he would be eternally reunited with his beloved Bride, us. He saw your face and mine, and loved us, and said “yes” even to defilement and death for us.
Are you willing to believe that Jesus loves you that much? Stop and ask the Holy Spirit to make that truth real in your heart. Then, raise your hands to receive it and pray, “Jesus, fill me to overflowing with your love. I want to love like you. Amen.” Receive his love. Feel it filling you. Thank God for it. The meaning and purpose of your very life start here.
Dear friend, may you rest in Jesus’ embrace and release all sadness, trauma and pain caused by this virus. Be richly blessed as you ask and are filled to overflowing with his powerful, overcoming love. Be filled with joy as you are able to love God, others and the things that please the Father as never before. Amen.
Mary Sumner, June 10, 2020