I want to be good, to make Jesus happy. I remember thinking those thoughts as I left the pew in my little church as a child and went forward toward a rather ordinary-looking grace that would change my life, hinder it though I may. I went to Pastor David and told him I wanted to be saved, I wanted eternal life in the presence of God. When he asked me why I said that I wanted to make Jesus happy.
But I have a confession. I don't make Jesus happy. I bear bad fruit sometimes. I want to do better. I want to BE better. I am showing my children how to grow bad fruit and that makes me sad. I thought if I shared a little reality, it would help, sort of like a step-program...I confess to you. I...I...I can't do it by myself, what I really need is a new heart. Luckily, that is possible.
A deep breath in my soul and here it comes:
Judgement. That's my sin. At least the one I am most aware of today.
Perhaps my opinion of myself is low and so I feel better if I think I am achieving more or doing it better than someone else.
If I have a cleaner house then maybe I am not the worst person?
If my kids don't swear (yet?) then maybe something I do is worthy of righteousness or on the sliding scale of sin that is a total lie, I am not as bad as others and therefore I must be better than some?
If I manage to get make-up on and you didn't then I am a better wife right, even when I nag because it is all about the skin right? Or is it the wallet? No...that's not it either.
For whatever reason, I judge. I look around and I think, "My ____ isn't perfect but I would never do that or at least my kids don't _____." Hateful and there it is right on the ground between us.
But what should I do when I look around and see with truthful and loving eyes, see others in sin?
When the Jews ran to Jesus, dragging their guilty victim, talebearing in their hearts and on their tongues, our sinless King said,
"He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." John 8:7Would I throw a stone at Her? Who Her? A beloved friend? I would never! Right? A relative or sister or some other precious, sinful Her like me? Surely I would not.
But I do throw stones. I throw them every day. I throw them at my neighbors and people I see at the gas station. I throw them at you and I throw them at my church and I throw them at myself. And I hate those stones and they lay there accusing ME and calm moments like this when I can see into my own heart, I hope you don't even know and those stones hurt me.
Now comes the scary part, and the scary big promise right from the mouth of the King himself.
"For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?...Hypocrite, First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:2, 3 and 5 NKJVThat's me in verse 5, Hypocrite with a plank in her eye. This makes me fear deep in my soul and I am not talking about the watered down "reverential trust" kind of fear that your modern bible translation might offer, I am talking about respectful fear of Creator God who looked down on pre-flood mankind and was sorry He made them.
BUT, gracefully, the tide turns when you dive into the Word and learn about the God who does good for us because he loves us and for no other reason than that he chooses to love us, He who planned to love us from the very beginning. Read Moses speech to Israel in Deuteronomy 7, 8 and 9, and though we aren't Israelites, you get deep insight into His mind and motives, "that He might humble and that He might test you, to do you good in the end." (Deuteronomy 8:16 NKJV)
And Moses relays God's message over and over in these chapters that it is not because of their righteousness that GOD SET HIS LOVE ON THEM.
Oh my, take a knee if you are able because He set His love on us. We can only stiffly resist with our proud necks or let ourselves be crushed by the love that He set on us. Crushed by His love. May it be, My God, give me a new heart and let me be crushed by Your love, crush all the stones in me and soak me right up and accept my gratitude for this promise in your word...
"Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:36-38 NKJV
"For every tree is known by its own fruit." Luke 6:44 NKJVI have only to look at my fruit to see what kind of tree I am and we don't even want to go there...because God's word is not silent on the fate of trees, but it is full of promise, and the Word bears grace and it does not bear stones and so I want to leave my stones on the ground right here.
My sinful heart is broken and that is the only sacrifice that I really have anyway but luckily, it is not my sacrifice that matters...
And the promise in Luke, the warning and the promise that whatever measure we use it will be measured back to us and maybe not even equally, but in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over and it will be put right into us but we need help.
I can't change by myself but the Spirit, the Spirit can bear fruit right out of me, I am grafted onto something good and that is the fruit I want and I don't deserve good but the God of All went and set His love on me and poured out grace and there is literally and blessedly...nothing I can do to change that.