A woman came to me distraught over a past mistake. She asked God to forgive her repeatedly; yet, she held to shame, robbing herself of peace. Interestingly enough, throughout our conversation, she admitted to being a rather judgmental person. I took note of this as she continued to self-loath to the point of being afraid of getting too close to anyone for fear they may uncover an ugly chapter in her life.
“You just can’t trust anyone these days,” she said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a trusted friend, but once someone knows everything about you they look at you differently. They might tell someone what you told them in confidence, even if they don’t mean any harm. You just have to keep somethings close to the vest.”
“Yes, I agree. Not everyone needs to know our worst moments. At the same time, it seems you are most concerned with being judged.”
“Yes! Everyone is judgmental.” Her eyes look stern, a combination of angry and hurt. “Everyone.”
“I think you’re most judgmental to yourself. True, there are some who relish the falls of others. However, there are those who can separate the sin from the sinner. From what I have seen, those who are capable of doing this the best know full well they are only saved by the grace of God.”
“Well, I certainly know my sin. It follows me around like a dark cloud.”
“That is unfortunate because God has blessed you with a fresh day. You are leaving today’s untold blessings on the table because you are replaying yesterday. Jesus forgave you the moment you felt convicted by the Holy Spirit and decided to ask God for forgiveness, turning from your sin to walk closer with Him. And yet, you live as if you know better than God. Living condemned is not from God, nor it is the place or plan He has for you; rather, it is a tactic of the devil.”
“The devil! I’m a believer! I know I’ve failed, but I’m certainly not following the devil!”
“No, but you are being affected by his tap upon your shoulder. The devil communicates through causing fear, accusing, creating feelings of hopelessness, replaying our sin and shame over and over again, desiring you to feel unworthy, doubting your relationship with Christ, wanting to isolate you from others, and feeding you constant negativity.”
“Well, that certainly does resemble a lot of my life these last several years.”
Readers, do you remember one of the stories in the bible where the scribes and Pharisees tried to trick Jesus? They wanted Jesus to either go against his message of mercy or go against the law by bringing a woman caught in adultery to him and asking if it is right to stone her.
Jesus says, “‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’” (John 8:7). But what is even more beautiful than Jesus addressing her accusers and offering them mercy rather than wrath, He concerns himself to another purpose… exchanging sin for an eternal life rooted in his grace and love. Yes, Jesus turns his attention to the one worthy of being stoned according to the law. Rather than condemn her, Jesus sets her free to follow a path of redemption. Jesus says, “‘Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:11).
Jesus offers a path of redemption NOT condemnation.
May we reflect on our own lives and see if we are judgmental towards others or ourselves. Asking, “Am I living loved? Do I show others mercy? Am I leaving today’s blessings on the table because I am too busy replaying yesterday? And do I need to forgive myself as Jesus has already forgiven me? Am I willing to ask God (as often as necessary) to get the devil off my shoulder?”
Friends, no man, not even ourselves, can keep us shamed if we allow Christ to clothe us.
“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier, Instagram: @tiffanysgly, and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.