It Starts With Me

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message).

I am a recovering Pharisee. Back in the day, I could point a finger and judge with the best of them. I was quick to find faults with others and even quicker to correct. I know now more than ever that I am as much in need of grace as anyone I ever pointed the finger at back in the day.

That said, I feel like there are quite a few people who are just as quick to point out the flaws in others. They feel it is their God-given prerogative to make sure the rest know just how wrong and sinful they are. There’s a lot of judgment but not much mercy at all.

That’s not how Jesus operates at all. He said that He did not come to condemn but to save. He didn’t throw shade at the woman caught in adultery, but offered her grace and mercy. He did say, “Go and sin no more,” but He said it in love, not out of a harsh and judgmental spirit.

We’re all sinners and we’re all broken. A lot of us talk about wanting karma for others, but none of us want it for ourselves. At least, not if we’re truly honest. We’re desperately hoping for grace at the end of the day.

Before I speak a word against anyone else, it helps to remember how kind God in Jesus has been to me. It helps if I recall how deeply indebted I am for the multitude of mercies and the overwhelming flood of sins forgiven.

I do think it’s biblical to correct and rebuke others, but always in the spirit of grace and in the context of relationship. I have to earn the right to speak into people’s lives by how I listen to them and learn from them and love them well. I have no place to correct or rebuke a stranger who I barely know and have no knowledge of who they are or where they’ve come from.

Above all, I think it’s wise to choose to be as kind to others as God has been to me. The Bible says that mercy triumphs over judgment. Above all, let your speech and conduct be seasoned with grace, because grace is what saved and sustains all of us at the end of the day.

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