Am I the only one who hears the sinister voices in my head? You know the ones –
- “Oh, you didn’t pray for ___ like you should have.”
- “You really said that out loud?!?!”
- “How could you think something so bad/crazy/sinful?”
- “Wow – did you see how fast she pushed your buttons? What an easy target you are. Some Jesus follower you really are.”
- “Do you really believe Jesus loves you after ___?”
All these words condemning me …
- Judging me down to the core of who I am and what I believe.
- Criticizing me of unreal, ungrounded, and insincere faith as a follower.
- Accusing me of being full of sin, led by emotions, and completely unable to change for the good.
- Pushing me to self-pity, self-loathing, and self-criticism … for being human.
All these words have one great flaw – there is NO GRACE, the very foundation of who God is.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Condemnation skips over grace, erases forgiveness, and ignores compassion. All the things Jesus died to give us – freely and in full.
Condemnation isolates us from connection and intimacy with others, declaring that our illnesses are beyond healing and idiosyncracies too crazy to be around others. It drives us to exhaust ourselves and our resources to be made “normal” (Mark 5:25-26). Condemnation pushes us the outskirts of the crowd, hiding and cowering for fear of being discovered and judged (Mark 5:27). Condemnation drives us to extreme and outrageous measures to feel whole and find acceptance (Mark 5:28).
Condemnation attacks our identity as a beloved child, removes our armor that secures us to God, hits us at our deepest hurts in our heart, and leaves us so wounded and defeated that people flee from us instead of helping us (Luke 10:30-32).
Condemnation tells us to waste our time, our life, and our resources on ungodly pursuits so that we suddenly wake up to find little to nothing left (Luke 15:13). Condemnation tells us that we are not good enough for even the most disrespected job but drives us to pursue it out of desperation (Luke 15:15-16). Condemnation convinces us that forgiveness is out of reach and we are crazy to hope for acceptance, yet it drives us to beg in a menial and demeaning way for any scraps (Luke 15:17-19). Condemnation looks through eyes of selfishness to see only “self sacrifice” to the point of self-righteousness and self-importance (Luke 15:29), so that judgment and loathing flow through every word and deed (Luke 15:30).
Condemnation makes us feel like we are standing in the center of society’s attention, being judged for every sin with no recourse to hide (John 8:3-4). Condemnation demands a harsh word, a hard heart, and a heavy hand – all ready to throw stones (John 8:5).
Condemnation distracts us from all God has for us.
Condemnation distances us from all God has for us.
Condemnation dissociates us from all God has for us.
And God has grace. A lot of grace. God is all about grace.
- “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right” (Psalm 84:11).
- “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3:24).
- “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17).
Grace allows us freely into God’s space and draws us closely into God’s embrace, touching every area flowing with shame and sorrow and filling it instead with God’s healing. Grace prays “Go in peace. Your suffering is over” with the great hope that we accept the complete freedom and restoration God has waiting for us (Mark 5:34).
Grace sees us when all others have passed us by, applies God’s love to our broken places, and sets us on the course for complete healing and restoration (Luke 10:33-35).
Grace never stops watching and waiting for us, hoping for and eagerly expecting our repentance. Grace runs with love and purpose toward us at the first sign, ready to celebrate our return and shower great compassion on us (Luke 15:20).
Grace holds its tongue, evaluates the wounded heart, and says “Neither do I [condemn you]. Go and sin no more” (John 8:6,11).
Condemnation shouts “you can never be good enough, no way”.
Grace whispers “you are worthy, even as you are – come”.
Both are calling to you.
Which one will you choose to listen to?
Marie Fremin. 1/19/18, 1/21/18, 2/18/18