Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Neither Do I Condemn You

Neither do I condemn you.” Jesus spoke tenderly to the woman caught in adultery. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” (John 8:3-10)

God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” (Romans 2:4) (not His condemnation)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

God, I want to be merciful like you are merciful. Help me not to be condemning/judging/unforgiving toward my children. Help me not to be like the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35) who was forgiven and set free from a huge debt that he could not pay. But then walked away without a sense of real freedom from that debt and therefore refused to forgive the poor soul who owed him money.

God, Help me not to live under a cloud of condemnation (of not being good enough as a wife, mom, minister of the gospel…) so that I then pass on a message of condemnation when my children demonstrate behaviors that seem to me to need immediate correction. Our two boys who have lived 8 and 9 years of their lives in an orphanage are not going to change their patterns of behavior overnight. Why am I so quick to enforce the law when they need my patience and understanding?

God, I want to be a giver of mercy because I have received Your mercy and have been inwardly changed as a result. I want to be kind because You are kind. I want to pass on a message of “Neither do I condemn you.” Not a message to our boys who already have an engrained message of condemnation in their lives: “I condemn you too.”

Because the truth is that God sent Jesus “to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God you dear Father. Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything belongs to you.” (Galatians 4:5-7)

I don’t want to live like the prodigal son’s older brother, who never left his father and “everything his father had was his,” but chose to live with a hard heart and was therefore unforgiving toward his younger brother’s wasteful and wild ways. I want to live with an everlasting awe, like the prodigal son when he humbly and fearfully returned home—with only the tattered clothes on his back— and expected to work for his father like a servant…

Really, a party for me? After all of your money that I’ve wasted, you’re saying that everything you have is still mine? After all that I’ve done to wrong you and bring shame to your name. I can still call you Abba? Your love for me is really that undeserved and unconditional? I don’t even have to show you that I’m changed to earn your trust and love again? Amazing. Truly amazing. (Luke 15: 11-32)

I’ve realized recently how much I need to daily soak in these truths about my relationship with my Father. Aware of how hard my heart can be, I know there is no way I can freely give mercy in my own effort. I’ve seen that fail many times before we even eat breakfast.  I need to be reminded again and again of what Jesus did by being cursed in my place. “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (Galatians 3:14)  Through Jesus and His completed work on the cross, I am a receiver of God’s unlimited mercy and grace. And God has sent the Spirit of his Son to live in my heart. How can I then not extend mercy if He is living His life through me?

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the one who died for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us.” (Romans 8:33-34, NLT)

And Jesus continues to speak to us the life-giving words he spoke to the woman caught in adultery after everyone had dropped their stones of accusation, “Neither do I condemn you.”

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