Even the most educated, wise, amazing people still only know what they know. They look through their eyes only. Their knowledge and experiences are filters through which all things pass through.
The great thing is… we are beings that are ever learning and we have amazing gifts like empathy that allow us to reach beyond our selves. But even then, we are limited. We cannot really walk in another man’s shoes.
And yet, we think we can. We think we know things. And we think that our knowledge is helpful to others. We think we can assess their problems and give them answers. Afterall, haven’t we all walked through a lot of the same things? I mean, we’re all very similar right? It’s so easy to see that those people can grow… if they do the things I did.
It’s a weird kind of narcissism, isn’t it?
I’m thinking about a woman I met once. Immediately I could sense that she was judgemental. (Because I know things… and I could use my superpowers to see that in her. Yes, this pot is about to talk about a kettle.) This lady filters everything through her version of what is “appropriate” behavior. She really thinks that who she is and how she lives is right in an absolute sense. There is a judgemental tone to everything she says. The sad thing is, she is actually quite wise but because of her self-valued superiority people don’t listen to her. Immediately I knew I wanted to steer clear of her. I don’t have a good track record with people like that. But the damage was already done. She had judged me and my heart was set against her.
My problem is, I’m prone to being addicted to approval. So, in relationships with people who are judgemental, I end up getting on a hamster wheel of trying to please them.
Today our read-thru-the-Bible-together readings are: Psalm 19; Luke 11:1-28
These bits jumped out at me:
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)
… and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Luke 11:4)
This morning as I read those passages my heart was cracked open and I saw something very disturbing. I have unforgiveness that has taken root.
I need you to know this about me: I have an awesome testimony about forgiveness. I know the power of forgiveness first hand. It’s a big deal in my life. I consider it a hallmark of the work God has done to change me to be more like Him.
This is what happened: There was someone in my life who had done repeated hurtful things to me over many years. I was so hurt and bound up. The most painful thing was they don’t even see what they did. And they are so (here comes that word again) judgemental about me. They point out my faults and give me lists of ways I can be a better person. Just thinking of them made my teeth clench. I had tried so many things to get free from my anger and pain. I talked to some wise mentors about it and they encouraged me to not give up but I was on the verge of cutting that hurtful person out of my life for good.
Then, on a sunny day in 2010, I felt drawn to read Matthew 6 during my devotional Bible reading time.
… pray like this: … forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors. … if you forgive people their trespasses (their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment) your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matt 6 Amp)
Here’s my journal entry about that day: How beautiful these words were to me: “Their reckless and willful sins”. I felt God speak to me, “They do not see what they did to you… it was a reckless time in their life. They cannot see it. But I saw it. And I see it still.” God knew I needed someone to see and acknowledge what had happened. And in that moment, as He spoke as a witness and supporter of me, the resentment fell off my heart and I was able to “let go of the debts”. It was weird to be sitting in a public place and experience such a personal moment of healing. Like I was the woman who reached out to touch Jesus’ hem in the bustle of a crowd of people. Like His touch dried up my issue of bloody unforgiveness and resentment. After years of searching for a cure, He walked by and healed me. I don’t know why I wasn’t healed before that day. I don’t know why the woman with blood had the issue for so long. I do know that day was beautiful and I trust that the timing involved many elements I am not big enough to see. And I pray and have hope He will bring healing to those who have been hurt by my reckless ways too.
I still have full and total forgiveness of that person. The thought of them is now pain-free. I think I can even call them a friend now!! It’s truly amazing. And I don’t think they have any idea what happened.
I thought I’d learned how to forgive. I thought this was a new strength in my life.
But today I see there is a little list of people, standing in a line, needing my forgiveness. I am, once again, being held captive by unforgiveness. As I consider this list of people I see one thing they all have in common: judgement. They are all people who, to me, seem critical of others and seem to consider themselves superior.
I want to say to them: “You only know what you know! You don’t know what you don’t know! STOP JUDGING PEOPLE!”
My teeth are clenched.
But, there’s a problem. A system failure within myself. I only know what I know. I don’t know what I don’t know. I am judging people.
So sad. I guess I’ve known it all along. I just didn’t want to admit it. I am one of them.
Funnily, this is the topic I’ve been preparing to preach on next. I had such a great testimony to share about forgiveness! But of course our Father God has more for me to learn. He is good. I should have expected another layer in the journey. And I should expect there to be even more.
So, today I’m praying about my list of people and how I’ve been judging them. I’m feeling the ropes of unforgiveness coming loose.
Father, “how can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14) … and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Luke 11:4). Help me God. Teach me Your Way. Free me from self-righteousness. I choose forgiveness. I choose humility. I clothe myself with Love. Thank you Spirit. Thank you Jesus.
How are you? Is forgiveness something that is easy or hard for you to give? Do you have a testimony of forgiveness?