Judging, forgiveness and taking time out for others

“Judge not, that you be not judged. Matthew 7:1

Lucy was the happiest girl you could imagine.  Although she had few friends, if any, she was content in her own little world. She was also a fine student and had a flare for Art.  She created the most beautiful things you could imagine.  It didn’t matter the materials that were available she could perform miracles with it. Her only flaw was that once she got working, her focus became so intense that she often forgot everything and everyone around her.  She was oblivious to the world.  As the old saying goes, “the house could be on fire and she wouldn’t notice.”

Due to Lucy’s flaw everyone seemed to Judge her differently.  Some were certain she was painfully shy, since she rarely spoke to anyone.  Others assumed she was conceited and thought too much of herself to bother with the rest of us on earth. Still some sensitive people were certain Lucy just didn’t like them. Lucy was so into everything she wanted to do she really didn’t notice what others were thinking of her, until her birthday came.

Her Mother made all the arrangements and with the help of her teacher, she was certain to invite all her classmates.  When the day came her Mother was so excited.  Lucy did not suspect a thing. As you can image she was feverishly working on a painting and didn’t notice anything her mother had done.

All the guests arrived and Lucy began to play with her classmates.  Soon enough Lucy came rushing into the kitchen exclaiming “Mommy they don’t like me, they said I was stuck up.” Lucy was crying and Mom took her in her arms and held her tight for a minute.  Then Mom looked her daughter in the eyes and with all the strength she could muster told her daughter in a stern voice “Now you know you’re not conceited, and that’s all that matters.  Go out there and ignore that remark.  Have a fun time. Once they see you for who you are that nonsense about being stuck up will stop.”  Lucy countered “But they hurt my feelings.”  The mother did not let up, “you forgive them and give them a second chance.” Lucy looked at her mother for a moment and left the kitchen.

By the end of the party all the children were happy, filled with sweets and tired from all the play. Many told Lucy they would love to come over and play again.  Lucy learned a few lessons that day and so did her new friends. Making friends takes some effort, but it sure is worth it, and we have to forgive just like Jesus forgave us.  Lucy’s friends discovered all their judgments were wrong.  That’s why the Sunday school teacher would always say “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1-3)  Things just seem to work better when we follow the teachings of Christ.

He was a people pleaser

Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.” John 19:4

Nothing wrong with being a people pleaser, life is so much simpler when everyone is happy.  I am sure Pilate felt exactly the same way.  Pilate was prefect or governor of the Roman provinces of Judea, Samaria and Idumaea. This meant he was the supreme power and might of Rome in these provinces.  His decision was final. He held this position for 10 years.

Jesus was brought to Pilate for one reason and that was to be crucified.  The high priest did not have the power to execute a criminal and needed Pilate to pass sentence. Therefore Pilate had a man he did not arrest in his possession.  Pilate questioned Jesus over and over again and could not find anything wrong with him. Did he do the right thing? Did he let Jesus go? Pilate was too concerned with pleasing the crowd and the high priest.  He decided to check with them first.  The crowd screamed for his crucifixion.  Pilate still tried to please everyone and brought out Barabbas, a known criminal, and informed the crowd that he would release one.  The crowd shouted for the freedom of Barabbas instead of Jesus.  Pilate had two choices. Please the crowd and the High Priest or do the right thing and free Jesus.

Pilate had Jesus, an innocent man, beaten 40 times with a whip designed to rip his skin off, with bits of sharp bones and metal balls, and then crucified him.  Pilate went down as one of the most famous people pleasing politicians in history.  He was literally moved by the crowd in his actions and did not consider the possibility of doing what was right.

In our lives we too must often make decisions based on whether we should please someone or stick to our convictions and do what we know to be right.  Pleasing others sure can make life pleasant in the short run, but living with the guilt of having done something wrong, just to satisfy others, can become a burden too heavy to carry.

Perhaps it is more important to please the one who always has our best interest at heart, and desires for us to do what is right, regardless of the consequences.  This would be God.  Instead of a people pleaser, we can be a God pleaser.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

It is a scary thought, to think we could get to heaven and for Christ not to know us. Especially if we have spent our lives doing his work, preaching the gospel, performing great acts all in the name of Jesus. The truth is a whole lot has been done in the name of Jesus, including everything from benevolent acts like starting schools or hospitals, to horrifying acts like war. Sometimes those responsible have had good intentions and others knew they were just using the name of Christ to further their cause. While some of these acts might have been beneficial to all of society and therefore admirable, Jesus is calling for something else. He is calling for obedience to God.

Jesus expects us to know His commandments and obey them. He even simplified it into two great commandments.

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

One commandment dictates how we act toward God. We should honor Him; dedicate time to His worship, His service, and the study of scripture. Too often we leave God the left over, when all our responsibilities are cared for, and we have been fully entertained, we then find a little time for Him. When we truly love someone they are a priority not last on the list.

The other commandment pertains to how we treat everyone else. Everyone around us is our neighbor. If we love them as ourselves, then we treat them as we want to be treated. Respect, love, kindness and generosity are a few words that come to mind. Jealousy, envy, hypocrisy and rudeness do not enter the equation.

If we are doing the “will of our father in heaven”, then He knows us. He walks with us and will be with us to the end. But if we are not following His commandments then the aforementioned warning applies.

Baby hope, an abandoned gift.

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Recently baby hope was identified. Her name is Angelica Castillo. This was a child believed to have been 4 years old when she was sexually abused and killed. The police also have evidence that she suffered from malnutrition, tied to at table and denied water as well. In truth we really don’t know the extent of the abuse. This happened over 20 years ago, but finally she was identified and the monster guilty of this heinous crime has been brought to justice.  There is much that needs to be said but the first thought that comes to mind is this precious life.

When Jesus was about the country of Judea he helped countless people and on one occasion there were several children that attempted to approach him. The disciples in their ignorance attempted to stop them. Perhaps they thought the master could not be bothered. But Jesus immediately corrected them and said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  (Matthew 19:14) These children had humility, submissiveness and a faith that is required to serve God.  Scripture also reveals that children are a great treasure. (Psalm 127:3, Proverbs 17:6)

Instead of being treated like the great gift that she was, Angelica Castillo was abandoned by her father and left in the hands of monsters.  How do we look upon our children now? Are they unwanted burdens, perhaps too costly for today’s economy? Are they a nuisance that often get in the way of our more important endeavors?

Children are beautiful creations temporarily placed in our care by God almighty. They are souls that the kingdom of heaven anxiously watches over. They must be raised with love and care that they may grow to be strong faithful men and women of God.

As for those who do not share these sentiments concerning children I leave this warning. You will meet God’s justice face to face, whether in this life or the next.

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