Spiritual Growth…

Why I Don’t Judge Others

judgy

I’m sure that you’ve heard the adage judge not lest you be judged – which is a verse often cited by people who are good at deflecting guilt. With that said, people who recite this verse have a point. And that point is that we shouldn’t judge other people and the reason why is simple. We don’t have a right to judge people unless we are perfect. Until we have perfected our own life and live in complete purity, it’s simply not a good idea to judge people.

There are several reasons why I don’t judge other people. One of the reasons I don’t judge others is because I am too busy trying to get myself together. I’m tending my own garden. I’m busy washing the dishes in my own sink, and simply don’t have the time to chastise someone for the dirty dishes in their sink. I’m busy trying to remove logs out of my own eye so that I can see clearly to remove specks out of the eyes of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m simply not in a position to judge.

It’s said in the scripture that eventually Christians will judge the world and even angels. However, this occurs at the end of the age, after Christians have been transformed and made new. We don’t have resurrected bodies just yet. When we are made perfect and whole (at the end of the age) we will judge angels… but not before then. If we try to judge before then, we will (naturally) have flawed judgment. It’s not possible to judge without flaws in a flawed body. I’m not flawless. Therefore I do not judge others.

The second reason I don’t judge others is because Scripture says that man judges by human appearance but God judges by the heart. I’m guilty of making assumptions about a person based on what I see on the outside (their circumstances and situation, what I may perceive as their morals and values), but I can only psychoanalyze to a certain level. I cannot see a person’s heart. I don’t know what’s going through a person’s mind.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. The truth is – things are not always as they seem. This is the reason God tells us that you can’t judge based on what you see.

Since I don’t know a person’s struggle and what’s happening in their heart, it’s not possible for me to make an accurate judgment – in fairness. Flawed judgment is another reason that Christians should walk in continued forgiveness towards others – because we don’t always know about the internal struggles of a person.

There are times when we might find that we aren’t even intimate with our own heartaches and pains. It’s possible (and common) to have emotional wounds within that you are unaware of. Many of us have little understanding of our own emotions and the complexity of our thoughts. Millions of people still haven’t figured out what makes them tick. They don’t know why they have the desires and vices that they have. They don’t know why they have certain habits or think certain thoughts. If it’s possible to not (fully) understand the contents of your own heart, how can you know the heart of a stranger? How can you judge?

What Do You Have in Your Hand?

hands

In some cultures, when a baby turns one they do something special on their birthday. The parents put the baby in a highchair and place different objects in front of them – things like a pen, money, paintbrush, prayer book, hammer and a host of various items needed for different professions. It’s thought that the object that the child chooses corresponds to what’s in their future. For example, a child who chooses money may have a future as a business person. The tradition is superstitious, but it does remind us of one key truth – that what a person has in their hands determines what they’ll accomplish.

When God sent Moses, He asked Moses a question to prepare the prophet for the task ahead. The question was, “What’s in your hand?” God already knew what was in Moses’ hand, but God wanted Moses to have a deeper awareness of this principle. God wanted Moses to understand that God could use something small and insignificant (in this case a stick) to do a great and significant work.

When we give what we have in our hands to Him, He can take something simple and transform it into something amazing. When Moses threw the stick on the ground, he realized that he had more than just a stick in his hand. He had a calling on his life and even more significantly, he had the backing of God.

Everyone has something in their hands. To be a blessing to others, use what you have in your hand. I’ve been using the pen, but some people are given other things. Some people have a beautiful voice, or a good sense of humor, or business savvy, or a knack for encouraging others – if that is what God has given you – then use it. There are a million different gifts and talents – whatever your gifts and talents are, use it for His glory. God has invested in you, and He expects a return.

1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace and various times.

Is a Competitive Spirit a Good Thing?

running

When we ask if a competitive spirit is a good thing, the first thing I think we should ask ourselves is which word is more important in the phrase “competitive spirit”? Is it the word “competitive” or the word “spirit”? I think it’s the word spirit because that is precisely what it is. And any spirit that doesn’t quite resemble the Holy Spirit is a spirit that you don’t want to have.

Is the Holy Spirit competitive?

When you compare the difference in characteristics between the Holy Spirit and a competitive spirit, you’ll find that there is a stark difference. A competitive spirit is prideful, it always strives for more, it’s greedy, it’s not content or satisfied, it grasps for the wind.

The Holy Spirit, however, is humble. The Holy Spirit is peaceful and fulfilled, joyful and content. The Holy Spirit doesn’t grasp for the wind because the Holy Spirit is the Wind. There are stark differences between a competitive spirit and the Holy Spirit.

Competition isn’t encouraged in the Bible – not in the Old or New Testament. Ultimately, the Christian’s goal should be to look like Christ.

Is Christ in competition?

When Christ walked the earth, the Pharisees and religious authorities were in competition with Christ, but Christ wasn’t competing with them. Christ didn’t compete with anyone. Christ was the very nature of God, but did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; instead, he emptied himself, and took on the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.

When the disciples of Christ displayed a competitive spirit and quarreled about who was the greatest disciple, Christ rebuked them and told them that the greatest among them should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. They were not encouraged to compete for the title of super-apostle. Instead, they learned the highest form of power is servitude and humility.

2 Corinthians 10:12: We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

 

How Often Do You Pray for Your Country?

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Via Unsplash

Every Shabbat, my family and I follow a ritual. There are certain prayers that we pray, and included in our prayer time is a small time of prayer for our country. This prayer is usually very short and simple: “Have mercy on our country!”

As the elections proceed, we pray this prayer with more intensity than ever. I feel like an echo when I say that the US is in trouble, but it needs to be said. We are in trouble, and if the Church doesn’t pray, the foundations will continue to crumble.

However, I find comfort in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah when I think about the state of our country. While many Christians (and theologians) see impending judgment when comparing the Genesis account to America’s cultural climate, I see the mercy that God extended before the judgment.

God said that if there were just ten righteous people in Sodom, God would extend his mercy.

Do we have ten righteous people in California? Do we have ten righteous people in New York? What about Texas, Washington, North Carolina and all the other states that the enemy wants to destroy?

Let’s never forget to pray for our country. Let’s never forget that the prayer closet is more powerful than the voting booth.

Please pray for America.

The Secret to a Long Life… in the Bible

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Via Stocksnap

I recently read an NPR article titled Secrets of the Very Old and Healthy.  To summarize the NPR article – the secret to longevity to simply being active. Scientists have figured out that aging gracefully has a lot to do with staying active. I believe that being active is one key to long life, but the Bible gives us even more powerful tools for longevity.

In the book 65 Promises for Your Child, there are lat least five other ways to secure a long life. These promises can be found in Exodus 20:12, Proverbs 3:13-16, Psalm 91:16, Proverbs 10:27, and Deuteronomy 11:21. Below are at least five Biblical ways to ensure a long life:

– Honoring your father and mother

– Seeking wisdom

– Setting your love on God and knowing His Name

– Fearing the Lord

– Speaking and displaying God’s Word in your home

Let’s never forget that only God can satisfy us with long life and show us his salvation.

If God Tells You to Do Something…

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What is God telling you to do? What has He been saying to you that you’ve been resisting? Why is it that so many of us can’t seem to find the capacity to move when God speaks? Why is it that many of us stand paralyzed when God tells us to move?

The answer is so simple and yet so complex.

The answer is fear.

The answer is rebellion.

The answer is pride.

The answer is weakness.

The answer is blindness.

The answer is disobedience.

There are so many reasons why we don’t do what God is telling us to do. There are so many reasons we are disobedient to His voice and His instructions. But is this not our ruin? Our disobedience, which leads us to sin against the Almighty is exactly the mountain that blocks our path to His blessing.

And, so, today, I want to encourage you to do what God is telling you to do. Don’t hesitate. Don’t remain inert. Move quickly and swiftly at the Father’s command and do exactly what He tells you to do.

How Joy, Authenticity and Happiness Work Together

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Via Unsplash

Being happy and being authentic are not synonymous. However, happiness and authenticity work symbiotically. When you are living your authentic self, you are naturally going to have more moments of happiness.

Living authentically produces something even stronger than happiness. Living authentically produces joy. Joy is spiritual, it’s deep, it’s philosophical, and it doesn’t change with the seasons or the environment. Joy is steady. It’s calmer and more reliable than happiness. So what we really want, crave and need is joy because when you have joy you have something that is coming from the inside out, rather than happiness which is often produced from the outside in.

When you are authentic, you naturally have more joy in your life. Joy is a byproduct of living the life that God wants you to live and being who He created you to be. Living authentically produces joy and happiness.

Eccentrics are an excellent example of how joy, happiness, and authenticity merge. Scientific studies and researchers who’ve investigated the lives of eccentrics have discovered that eccentrics are happier than other people. Famed psychologist David Weeks spent years studying eccentrics and found that eccentrics live more freely and fearlessly. They have more excitement in their lives, are more mindful, but most importantly they are themselves – these traits make them happier than the average person.

When you live a life of authenticity and embrace who you are and not care what anybody else thinks, you live a happier and more joyful life.

Of course, there is a downside to living a more authentic life – you may upset the people around you by not living how they want you to live. You might disrupt their peace, but you’ll have peace within, and inner peace is priceless.

There is nothing more disturbing than a restless, chaotic spirit. Confusion is a natural enemy of man. When people are confused, they make bad choices; they get depressed, they stagnate internally and sometimes they just stand paralyzed in their confusion.

One of the ways that you keep confusion out is to stay true to who you are. If you pretend to be someone else, an inner battle begins to rage, and a byproduct of that battle is confusion. Many people are deprived of their peace because they’re confused. And a lot of people are confused because they are not living authentically.

Joyful people aren’t confused. Joyful people live in clarity. They don’t live in a fog with their vision blurred by the past or future. They live in the present. One of my digital mentors taught me that joy is the reward for discerning the divine gift camouflaged in the immediate moment. I would also argue that joy and happiness are the divine gifts camouflaged in living authentically.