“When we are going through desperate, difficult times, the hardest thing can be hearing the voices of condemnation, rejection, and shame from others. The Enemy – the accuser of our brothers – loves to use people to kick us in the stomach when we’re down. The Enemy loves to use our sin to condemn us rather than allow us to hear the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Jesus silences the condemning voices and commands them to leave. Listen to the kindness in His voice as He says in
By Beth Redman
God Knows My Name:
Never Forgotten, Forever Loved
In the midst of all the "accusing voices" we frequently hear around us, the loudest one of all is the "self-critic." And even though we know where that critical spirit is coming from, it is still very powerful. When we listen to that accusation, that criticism, that condemnation, we can become so discouraged that we just want to give up. Part of the problem here is that we live in a "Christian Culture" that, in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways, teaches us that we need to project an image of "perfection" if we are to be "acceptable" in our churches. So we try to "measure up," and when we don't quite make the mark, we feel like a failure. That is when the condemnation begins to overpower our spirits.
For many years I have observed something among church folks that puzzles me: we talk a lot about "salvation by grace, through faith," and remind ourselves that it is a free gift, "not of works, lest anyone should boast." We can quote those Scripture verses all day long! And then we turn around and live as if we really ought to be able to do this on our own. We have such high expectations for ourselves, and for everyone else in our world. The disappointment comes when none of us can quite achieve that level of "perfection." Now it is clear in Scripture, as well, that we are to live a life of obedience to God, out of a heart of gratitude for all that He has done in offering us the free gift of salvation. Living in such a way that our choices and our actions honor God is clearly the objective here.
But when we say one thing, and then live as if it just might not be true after all . . . . . we negate the Gospel message of salvation. If we COULD achieve perfection on our own, well, then we wouldn't need a savior, would we? In the midst of all of this confusing rhetoric, it is truly a gift to be reminded that Jesus does not condemn us when we fail. His voice of compassion can be heard if we listen; if we can refuse to accept those words of criticism and accusation when they come to us, then we can relax and keep putting one foot in front of the other on our journey to obedience. It's a long and difficult journey, and sometimes we will stumble and fall.
But we must hold on to the truth of the words of Jesus: "Then neither do I condemn you." We must remind ourselves of His heart of gentleness and kindness, even in the presence of those around us who perhaps have chosen not to forgive. Those who have chosen to hold onto our failures, and refuse to offer the grace that God extends to us. Even though their standard for forgiveness appears to be much higher even than God's, we know the truth. We are forgiven, we are loved, and through the gentle touch of His hand and the sweet sound of His voice in our hearts, we are able to go forward, striving to grow in obedience all along the journey.
Won't you listen to the gentle whisper of Jesus today, telling you that you are loved, you are forgiven, and you are acceptable because of His sacrifice? Can you shut out the voices of accusation and condemnation? Because they are simply not true! Claim the truth for your life today, and you will rise up on the wings of His grace.
Please visit Loni at her blog, Writing Canvas, to find links to the other bloggers who are participating this week with "In Other Words," and then if you write about this quote on your blog, be sure to leave a link so we can come and visit you!