S: Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. John 7:24 (NIV)
Don’t be nitpickers; use your head – and heart! – to discern what is right, to test what is authentically right. John 7:24 (MSG)
O: Look below the surface – what is the heart of the matter.
A: Lord, while I know there is a greater message You are conveying here, I can’t look past this underlying theme of examining my own heart.
My country is on fire. It’s been burning for a long time – embers below the surface finally erupting into flames that cannot be ignored. So many opinions broadcasted on media platforms – trying to find the right words to extinguish or fuel the flames.
And still I’ve not yet heard the two small words that can initiate the greatest amount of healing…
I think it’s because it’s much easier to look around and judge how everyone else is responding to determine which is right, wrong, better, or worse. But change can’t really happen without beginning with myself.
I haven’t posted anything on social media about what is going on, not because I don’t care or I’m not heartbroken or enraged by it, but because I can’t just throw words up on a screen hoping they will somehow pacify the cries of injustice in our world.
The reality is our world is broken, and I’ve played a part in it. I’ve made judgements based on appearance. I may want to think I’m better than the violence on TV, but I know better. I know the words I’ve used to tear others down – even if they were never spoken – I know the thoughts in my heart. If I take time to look within, I can see my own prejudices.
And I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for thinking that somehow I was better than you. That somehow you were a threat to my wellbeing – my safety. What I see so clearly now is that the biggest threat to me is myself.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)
It’s easy to fling opinions and judgements all over Facebook and Twitter. It’s much more difficult and painful to sit quietly with ourselves and evaluate our own hearts.
How have I contributed to this epidemic?
I’ve thought too much of and about myself. I’ve loved myself more than I have others. I’ve thought my ways were best.
How could I judge anyone else when I know my own sinful nature? How can I say this is right or wrong when my own motive is not love? How can I do any of this without examining my own heart first?
For all of this and countless other consequences of my sin, I’m a contributor to the problem.
What else could I possible say?
Only this: I’m sorry. Can you please forgive me?
P: God, I want to say, “Forgive us!” But I have to start with myself first. Can you forgive me? Change me from the inside out, Lord. Start with me.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Psalm 51:1-17 (NIV)
Photo by Lucxama Sylvain