“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matthew 7:1-2
Christians are the most judgmental people on the earth! -I know, I'm one! We speculate about the sins of others quite easily; in many instances, we can assess their sins upon meeting them, condemning them to Hades in about 3 minutes flat! "Oh, she's a Hoochie!" "He's an alcoholic." "Drug addict!" "She has 3 baby-daddies." "Gay!" "Homeless!" "Broke!" The list can go on and on, because it is so easy for us to forget that we are also sinners.
You may say, "This has nothing to do with me;" and, it may be true. Our overt sins openly seen by all are very different than those manifested under the guise of secrecy. Nonetheless, the secret ones still exist! And, although covert, they maintain some sort of power over us. The truth is, every time we see someone who is under the grips of an overt sin, we should thank God for His Grace, and quietly say to ourselves, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I!”
Our shame, on the other hand, is one of those characteristics that we take with us through life.
If you believe that you have done something wrong, whether it is real or imagined, shame will be that proverbial demon with the pitch fork, prodding your memory of a long gone incident, back into the forefront of your mind. It shapes your self-esteem, and often, your self-respect. It can strengthen you, if you are strong enough to dismiss it; or, destroy you, if you are weak enough to let it. It will follow you if you are very young, and haunt you if you are old enough to know better.
In Jesus’ ministry, it was the thing that those who came forth for healing needed –the cleansing of shame. There was healing for the Woman with "the issue of blood," ashamed of her illness. There was advice for Nicodemus who was ashamed to fraternize with Jesus in the light of day. There was cleansing for Mary Magdalene who was ashamed of her prostitution; and, there was redemption for Zacchaeus who was ashamed of stealing. If you check the others, you’ll notice that shame is a resounding chord.
We have all suffered from shame at one time or another. Some of us still carry the scars of shame from some incident that occurred in childhood. Even now that most of us are mature adults, we realize that many of those things that brought us shame as children or young adults really did not warrant the attention we gave it.
Have compassion. It is a Jesus principle that humanity still has a difficult time administering. In today’s culture it takes only a few minutes and the click of a mouse to destroy someone. –Literally and figuratively, sending out their personal shame to be continuously ridiculed worldwide. ..Even if you are a Christian, life and love can be confusing at any age; and often, we don't think about any future consequences until it is way too late.
Our shame began with the Fall of Adam & Eve; and, we have been trying to hide our shame since that day until now. However, as Christians, we accept the cleansing of shame from our lives when we fully understand and accept God’s complete encompassing Love for us. –Isn't it time that we paid His Love forward to others?
Study Reference: Matthew 7:1-5
Excerpt from: "Passing Judgment & Ashamed ll.” In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions for Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell
photo: Jin Young-Yu, sculptor