When the preacher gets done and invites people up to the front for prayer it is never a good thing for your daughter to look at you, smiling, and tell you that you should go get prayer.
That happened today. At Springhouse Worship & Arts Center, Barbie Loflin, one of the pastors, was preaching on being judgmental.
The Holy Spirit My daughter convicted me – non-judgmentally, of course. Because I do judge. I do judge a lot and I know it.
What I didn’t know was why I judged, which is something that Barbie explained well. In her words:
I was asking God what I was going to teach on and I heard Him answer, “Who do you say I am?”
According to Pastor Barbie, we think judge because we think we are better than others but in reality we judge because we don’t know who Christ is and who we are in Christ.
If we judge we:
- are insecure
- are non-discerning
- need a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit
- really are better than everyone else
I am all of of those. I do need a revelation of Christ and a revelation of who I am in Him. I need a dose of reality to strip away my perceived superiority.
It hit home when Pastor Barbie said that judging is actually counterfeit discernment. Being a know-it-all I want to be right, but when I judge I am actually being wrong, whether I’m technically right about the topic or not.
I want to be discerning. I want to see people as God’s sons and daughters. I need empathy. I need a soft heart.
And sometimes I just don’t have one anymore.
Keith Green expressed how I feel best:
My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me
But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of Your Blood
So I went up and prayed. Because my daughter called me on it and because I knew I needed to change. All I could think of, all I could pray was, “I repent and I want a soft heart.”
Know what I mean?
I’m sure you’ve noticed that at funerals the deceased was only good things like loving, funny, generous, caring, always been there for everyone, and so on. Prior to their death, however, I wonder how many times they were told these things. And because I’m narcisistic, I wonder how many people think these things of me. Now, I mean, before I die.
Then I come across passages like Philemon 1:4-7, where Paul is thanking God for three fellow Christians and I wonder if anyone thanks God for me. Have you ever wondered that yourself?
Does anyone thank God for you?
Here’s the deal: I think you gotta have a lot going for you to have someone thank God for you. First, you got to have a friend who is actually a good enough Christian to actually think about praying for someone other than themselves (and the new car they want, and so on.) Next, you got to live a life where your friend just can’t stop themselves – they just have to thank God for you.
Assuming you have such a friend, have you considered whether or not you live a life where people actually want to thank God for you? I am tonight and I’m pretty sure I don’t like the answer.
I know my wife sometimes thanks God for me. Without me, who would teach her longsuffering and patience? I also get to count my kids as a “yes” too since I’m their boss and I can totally boss them to thank God for me. Friends and people I know, though? I’m much less sure.
Here is what Paul said,
I always thank my God when I mention you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints. I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing every good thing that is in us for the glory of Christ. For I have great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
So to be worthy of thanking God for, according to Paul, you need to answer yes to the following questions:
- Am I known for my love and faith for Jesus and love for all the saints?
- Does my love for everyone cause joy and encouragement among the people I hang with?
- Do my actions refresh the hearts of the saints like a ice cold Coke on a summer day?
For me? Not exactly. To be way too transparent for comfort, I’m probably best known for:
- My love of sarcasm and poking fun at people I know.
- My laissez-faire attitude toward authority.
- My salty personality that drives young women to weeping and old men to gnashing of teeth.
Yeah, I can totally suck
sometimes much of the time. But the thing is I really, really want to be someone who people thank God for. But clearly, I just don’t want to work for it.
So we have two choices: 1) I can try harder to actually follow Christ (like the name Christian implies), or 2) I can talk all of you in to pretending that I’m like Philemon, Apphia and Archippus and to thank God for me even though I don’t deserve it.
History tells me that I’m extremely unlikely to go with option 1 so that leaves option 2. What do you say?
Photo by Deviant Artist hfootball.