Who am I to judge?

June 2, 2021

In the post to he blog, Jack’s Winning Words, to day Pastor Freed used this quote sent to him by a reader –“You’ll never look into the eyes of a person who God doesn’t love.”  (Sent by Pr Jennie) 

Freed went on to comment about God’s grace – forgiveness without recompense – and the fact that there is no sliding scale for sins or forgiveness. So, we don’t have big sins and little indiscretions, just sins. And God does not use a scale from 1 to 10 to measure out his grace.

As he usually does in his blog, Freed challenged the reader with a question – Paul, the one we call a saint, referred to himself as the “chief of sinners.”  Would you ever say such a thing about yourself?

I seldom stand in front of the mirror admonishing myself as a sinner; however, I realize the sins that I have committed in the eye of God and stop occasionally to ask for God’s forgiveness and His help in not committing them again. Sometimes it is hard to look that guy in the mirror in the eyes and forgive him his sins.

I used the line from Pope Francis as the headline today because I think it is important within the context of all of us being sinners that we stop and ask that question of ourselves when our tendency to judge the sins of others takes over. The phrase “rush to judgement” comes to mind. We rush to overlook our own sins and focus on the sins of others. And, our focus is not to forgive them, but to shame or condemn them for those sins. We place ourselves in the roles of judge and jury and sometimes of executioner.

I have posted here before about the most striking examples of people following the example of God’s grace and forgiveness. One of those examples was reported on the news shows when parishioners from Emanuel African Methodist Church were interviewed after the shooter was arrested and convicted. The Charleston church shooting (also known as the Charleston church massacre) was a mass shooting on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine African Americans were killed during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The surviving members of the Bible study group when interviewed all said that they had forgiven the shooter and were praying for him. That’s just hard to wrap one’s head around. Yet, that is the level of forgiveness that God shows all.

So, while we may have a sliding scale of sins from 1 to 10 in our minds, they are all sins in the mind of God and he loves us so much that he forgives them all. God’s love and forgiveness is always a 10. So, who am I to judge the sins of others? My role should be to find a way to forgive and love them, too; even that guy that I see in the mirror.

Let us all take this piece of advice from Luke – “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

Have a great and forgiving day!


No thanks; I’ll take the stairs…

March 14, 2016

“The fact that there’s a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven says a lot about expected traffic numbers.”  (Shower Thoughts) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

My mom also often used the phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I RoundTuitsuppose that road is marker with round tuits, which you always meant to get. The side roads to that destination probably are named Coulda, Woulda and Shoulda. It’s no wonder that traveling on that path is often referred to “going down the road to ruin.”

The climb to heaven must seem daunting to many, too; since Jack went on to remind usfacing stairs that Jesus said it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven. Of course He was talking about earning your way into heaven. He went on to explain that we get in to Heaven through the grace of God by accepting Him as our Savior.

So, if we can’t earn our way to Heaven, why live a good life in communion with God and perhaps service to others? The answer to that has to do with being ready for your own final judgement. No one knows when their time will come and no one is going to be given the time to say “I’m sorry” and ask for forgiveness at the end. It seems to make much more sense to be ready at any time.

Being ready means having a steady and meaningful relationship with God and the willingness to accept His will for your life. Most find that God’s will involves helping others and doing what’s right as you live out your days. From that service and acceptance of God’s will comes the peace and contentment with life that others may not understand. helperPerhaps that is how we climb the stairs to Heaven, one stair of service and prayer at a time – not earning our way; but rather, accepting our way into our final reward.

I’m sure that we’ve all met or heard about people who devote their lives to helping others. Mother Teresa in India always comes to mind; but there’s countless people right in our own communities that serve the needs of others. I think of the people of Supportive Alternative Living (S.A.L.) in my community who serve the needs of adult special needs people living independently in our neighborhoods and the volunteers at Community Sharing who provide food and services to those in need in our area. You may not see them providing those services; but maybe that’s just because they are a little ahead of you on the stairway.

So, this week, as life throws in your face the opportunities for you to get on the highway toclimbing stairs hell, just say, “No thanks; I’ll take the stairs.” It doesn’t matter how far along you are; at least you’re going in the same direction, if you’re on that stairway. So, take your first step up today.

 


Get more than you can imagine…

May 5, 2015

“Get more than you expect for less than you imagine” That’s the tag line from a recent car commercial. The advertising guys always come up with catchy lines like that; although the current “Find new roads” tag line rings a bit hollow in Michigan, where we’d be happy just to find roads that don’t have potholes.

When I saw that opening line it immediately keyed a thought of how, with a slight twist, it might be applied to one’s faith. I would rephrase it as, “Get more than you can imagine for less than you expect.”

Putting your faith into those words is an acknowledgement of the limitations of our imaginations where God is concerned and an affirmation of the concept of Grace. It is saying that God can and will provide everything that we need in return for the simple and free act of believing in Him – the act of baring your soul, opening your heart and accepting His give of Grace into your life. It does not require that you perform great works or acts of piety. It only requires the humble and grateful acceptance of God into your life. Once you have reached out to God to say, “Not my will, but thy will be done in my life”, you will get more than you can imagine for less than you expect.

It is interesting that, from Biblical times into the present, those who seem to have the most in life have the hardest time making this leap of Faith. In the Biblical story in which Jesus told the rich man who inquired about what he must do to get into heaven that he should sell everything that he had and give it to the poor that man just wandered off muttering to himself. Yet, we often see images of dirt poor people celebrating their Faith in churches around the world, lost in song or prayer. They are not celebrating the material things that they may have, because in many cases there would be nothing to celebrate. Rather these are people who have embraced their Faith and found the truth of the statement, you will get more than you can imagine for less than you expect.

I’m not saying that everyone has to give everything away and be poor to receive God’s Grace. That’s not what God is asking us to do. What he is asking us to do is to rid ourselves of the protective mantle of our own egos; that arrogant attitude that stubbornly thinks we can solve all problems by ourselves and that we don’t need His help or that of anyone else. The concept of “free will” allows for that arrogant ego and perhaps that is where the Devil lives in some of us, clouding our view of God. That is the demon that we must cast out in order to re-approach God; and, if you do you will get more than you can imagine for less than you expect.

For most of us I suspect that the issue is not an arrogant ego that pushes God away; but, rather a complacency that is comfortable with a somewhat distant relationship with God. We know he’s out there somewhere. We go to church most of the time and listen to the Scriptures and the sermon. We pray at every meal and maybe some other times. We give what we can to the church and to other worthy causes. We have a Faith of sorts; it just isn’t close to the surface and doesn’t manifest itself in our lives. For this type of Christian, it usually takes a crisis; something that forces the issue of having to call on God for help; only then do we realize that you get more than you can imagine for less than you expect.

So, what can God do for you today? The answer is whatever you need, but you have to ask. If you embrace Him, he will embrace you and you will get more than you can imagine for less than you expect.

Have a great day!


They can’t take that away from you…

April 8, 2015

My real estate career often crosses the paths of elderly people, either alone or perhaps still as a couple. In many cases I get involved at the point in their lives where they have made the decision to move into an assisted living environment and need to sell their family home. old cooupleSometimes that is solely their decision and sometimes at the advice and urging of their children. In any case there is usually great anxiety caused by this move.  For some there is concern about a loss of control and privacy and dignity.

My advice to them is to accept that they are a time in their lives where they must relinquish some control of things that they are really not able to control for themselves any longer. Even the sharpest of minds eventually finds that it is trapped in a body that no longer is capable of doing its bidding. Things begin to fail, whether it is eyesight or hearing or strength and flexibility. I have found that latter part to be particularly true in my visits to the gym. At 71, I no longer have the flexibility or range of motion to do certain thingscaregiver and exercises that I could easily do in past years.  There is also an inherent loss of privacy that goes along with some of the physical help that may be needed. It is impossible to remain private while someone bathes you. Your dignity, however, is something you you can maintain and something that only you can choose to lose; they can’t take that away from you.

What is dignity?

The dictionary puts it this way –

dig·ni·ty

ˈdiɡnədē/

noun

– the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

Usage – “a man of dignity and unbending principle”

– a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect.

Usage – “it was beneath his dignity to shout”

synonyms: self-respect, pride, self-esteem, self-worth

Usage – “he had lost his dignity”

So your dignity is all inside you; it’s all about you and how you comport yourself. Can you still have dignity while someone is performing very person care functions for you? Of course you can. No one can take that away from you. Does anyone think that Stephen Hawking is not a man of great dignity, just because his physical body cannot sustain him by itself? Do people think he is not a man worthy of honor and respect; a man of great pride and self-esteem, based upon the great things that he has accomplished in the world of astrophysics? So why would someone think you to be less dignified just because you may need assistance in some of your daily routine? There is no shame in needing assistance and it’s only you who shames yourself and takes away your dignity. Only you can make that decision to become less dignified; they can’t take that away from you.

Grace is a trait that is often associated with the word dignity. My favorite definition for grace, especially as used in this context is – a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving. It is often used in sentences such as, “he was a man of great dignity and grace.” When you meet someone with dignity and grace it is an enjoyable happenstance. If dignity is an internal state of a person, then grace is its external manifestation and they can’t take that away from you.

The anxieties and fears of taking those first steps into a new stage in life are normal. How well you deal with them may helping old ladywell depend on how well you maintain your dignity and the gracefulness with which you deal with the new world around you. One really positive way to look at this change and turn it around to your favor is to realize that you no longer have to expend so much time and energy (both decreasing commodities at this stage) just trying to do the day-to-day things of life that have become so hard for you. You have help, now, with those things; so, you can turn more of your attention and energy onto the things that still interest you and those things that you can still do. You still have your dignity and they can’t take that away from you.

Maybe you’ll have more time to enjoy a hobby or watch a ball game or read. If you’re still with your life mate, you have increased time to appreciate one another’s company and companionship, without having to shift the burden of your infirmities onto them or onto family. Perhaps you’ll even find time to write and start your own blog. Thesunday walk great thing is that you have stories that no one else can tell, because no one else had the same experiences that you’ve had. Writing down your thoughts and sharing your story will reinforce your pride and self-worth and increase your self-esteem – it adds to your dignity and they can’t take that away from you.

It’s not the end when you have to go into assisted living; it’s just the start of the next chapter of your life. Make it the best chapter yet. Do it with dignity and grace. Be the one at the facility that everyone else there (staff and other residents) enjoys seeing and getting to know. Find out their stories, too. Exchanging stories of things that only people of similar age have been through is a great way to make friends and preserve memories. Taking a positive and upbeat approach to life as it is at this stage is the most dignified thing that you can do; and no matter what; they can’t take that away from you.