Keys to the Kingdom
By Carolyn Tucker
My good friend, Ralph, shared a funny story about his young neighbor boy. Many years ago, this cute little guy was about three years of age and he couldn’t speak very clearly. One day, Ralph was over there visiting and the youngster noticed that Ralph was looking at him. Somewhat annoyed, he bluntly asked, “What are you yuckin’ at?”
Jesus knows that mankind tends to be judgmental and critical of others, and this sets a bad example for all who identify as Christ followers. We simply are not to judge another person. “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment” (Matthew 7:1 MSG). For one reason, we don’t have all the required information to make a proper judgment. One of Elvis’ best songs (in my opinion) has the following lyrics: “Yah, before you abuse, criticize, and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes.“ The only person a believer is to judge is himself/herself. But oftentimes we’d rather judge others because, when we inspect our own heart, we may find jealousy, a lack of love, and pride — ouch!
God intends for us to treat one another’s background story with the same kind of love, respect, and mercy as He has shown us. Everyone needs compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. We need to remember that the past failures of a redeemed individual are gone in the eyes of God. So let it be gone in our eyes too. “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:8-10,12-14 NLT). If Jesus forgives and forgets sins, then we should too. Everyone’s journey is full of twists and turns, highs and lows, and it’s personal and confidential between the individual and their Savior.
Sometimes the decision to follow Christ begins in the gutter. In the Book of John, we find that the religious scholars and Pharisees had brought to Jesus a woman who’d been caught in the act of adultery. They said that the Law gives orders to stone her to death and they asked what Jesus had to say. He responded that the sinless one among them could throw the first stone. After hearing Jesus’ wise statement, they all walked away. When they inspected their heart and judged themselves, they discovered they weren’t as righteous as they had thought. Jesus came to change rules and lives by His love and His blood. “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ’Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ’No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ’Neither do I. Go and sin no more’” (John 8:10-11 NLT).
God is awesome, holy, perfect, and to be revered. Yet, He forgives and forgets our sins, failures, and shortcomings. So who do we think we are to not do the same with our friends and family? If God can, that means we must. Rather than judge, let’s be a reflection of mercy and lend a helping hand, a loving heart, and a warm smile.
The Key: God’s work of art is a constant work of heart in all believers.