I am truly learning a great deal about myself during these readings. I would love to hear how some of you are getting along in this series. Feel free to join the conversation by posting a comment. Be blessed!
Our reading today comes from Matthew, chapter 12.
I am learning more and more about the constraints I place upon myself in my own search for God. I come up with ideas and rules that I believe are godly, but in the end, they are just things I have made up. I am thinking that most of us do the same thing in order to maintain our comfort zones and still feel like we are making progress in our spiritual lives.
For example, I have always believed that godly people are nice and polite. Godly people are clean and well-groomed. Godly people have no problems in their prayer or Bible study habits. My list goes on and on. Maybe you have a list of your own.
As a result of my list, I tend to strive to be this kind of person, but more importantly, I have found that I judge others on this criteria too. Now, there are several problems with this. The first is this: All my assumptions are wrong. I looked and haven’t found anywhere in the Bible where it says Christians should be nice and polite. The closest thing I have found says we should be loving, tenderhearted and forgiving (Ephesians 4.) But we all know that being those things sometimes involves pain, and conflict, and tough love. “Nice” is not always a part of the equation. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for a person would never be considered nice or polite.
Secondly, it shows me that I hold others, not to a divine standard, but to my own arbitrary standards. And my standards don’t include a lot of grace. So I am missing out on knowing some really great people because how they look and behave doesn’t match up with my expectations.
And finally, my witness is not one of authenticity or grace, but rather shallowness and rigidity. Who wants to join a church like that? Certainly not the people I need to be reaching out to.
I have come to realize that most of my assumptions are based upon outward appearances, both for the people I judge and myself. Very little of my estimation relies on the heart condition of others. But that is what Jesus says is most important. I believe the proper term for this is “legalism” and we know that this is the most prominent character trait that He derided the Pharisees for.
So here I am again. Re-thinking myself and my relationship with God. But I am pretty sure that is what Lent is for. I am thankful today that God doesn’t use my standards against me.
Thank You for giving me eyes to see and ears to hear. Now please give me a heart that is committed to being molded by You. Help me to look at every person I meet as a brother or sister, and to look at them with the eyes of my heart. Help me to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and not the rules created by man. Have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner.
In Jesus’ holy name I pray,