So, it’s close to April and hopefully we’re all seeing AMAZING things happening in our personal lives. We’re achieving all kinds of dreams and goals by now, since we’re almost a whole four months into our New Year’s resolutions!
If you’re like me, you JUST realized that it’s almost April only because you had to write the date on a check made out to your landlord.
Even so, I’m not kicking myself quite yet. After all, I’ve made some headway in the gym and got on a consistent regime, which is a big deal for me since I can’t stand working out. Running aimlessly. Sweating. Stinking. Picking up objects that are CLEARLY too heavy for me. Who does that? And then to have to deal with the audacity that my body has to NOT change. Not even budge. “Lol… aaand what else,” it mocks with a smirk. I was pretty discouraged. It’s not like I work out for the fun of it. I needed to see results. So with that, after only 3 years, 7 months, 19 days and approximately 5 ½ hours of being with my certified Personal Training husband, I finally asked him to help me with my workout routine. *applause* I must say that I’m learning new things through this experience – besides the fact that I was doing ALL of my exercises wrong. The reason why I was so insecure and refused to let him use his expertise help me reach my goals is a pretty pathetic one, because my husband is probably the most gentle and gracious man I’ve ever met.
I was insecure.
Insecurity has a lot to do with fear pertaining to a part of your identity. I was afraid of being judged or looked at differently while working on an area of myself that’s sensitive to me. I didn’t give my husband an opportunity to prove himself trustworthy as a critic and a guide throughout my workout routine. I thought he would get frustrated at my sloppy form. That he would try to push me beyond my limits and make me feel even worse than I do about myself.
Nope. Nil. He was the same patient and understanding companion that he always is. When my form was sloppy, he took some weight off for me, showed me the technique again and told me to start over.
While I was doing some muscle building exercises, I happen to glance over at myself in the mirror. My hair frizz was out of control, bun tilted on the side of my head and all. My skin was red and soaked with sweat. The expression on my face was seriously the most awkward and hideous expression I think I’ve ever seen – AND I WAS SOOOOO SERIOUS – while my body was contorted as I tried to get the form correct. “OH MY GOSH I look ridiculous!!!” My husband stopped counting and looked in the mirror. He didn’t cosign my observation, but he didn’t disagree either. (Wow, thanks.) Then he said, “Honey, it doesn’t matter how you think you look, number one, you’re beautiful,” (Good save.) “number two, what matters right now is that you’re pulling the weight and building your muscle stronger. That’s going get you the results you want.” I am a bottom line kind of girl, so that was sufficient pep talk for me. I laughed, shrugged and got back to it, grateful for such a gracious new help to my fitness goals.
It makes me think about how many people we come across everyday that could use that same kind of grace. Everyone’s mind and soul is as unique as our physical bodies. We’re all built differently. However, in our differences we seek to build a sort of hierarchy of sins. With that man-made hierarchy as a backing (and not God’s word) we are ruthless in our judgment of one another, and it doesn’t please God. As much of a ‘duh’ statement as that may seem to be, I bring the issue of judgment and discernment to the table because there are a lot of age-old arguments going back and forth on social media networks and in conversations. I think a lot of well-meaning Christians are caught in a balancing act of being gracious of other’s sin and not being afraid to speak up and stand against the things that dishonor God.
In our ‘so-called’ discernment, we’re quick to outcast each other and divide in the name of Matthew 18:15-17 which tells us how to (and more notably gives us permission to) approach and correct our brothers and sisters in Christ. It concludes “…if he refuses to listen, even to the church, then treat him as a non-believer.” This is usually what we use as our scriptural green light to go and tell everybody to ‘pray’ for them and snub whenever their name comes up. This is not what that means. Here’s a thought. Jesus Christ is the one who gave this guide on how to deal with people and their sin. It does not tell us what “treat him like a non-believer” really looks like. What does that mean? I personally do not think the answer was left out. I think the answer is so obvious because it’s answered throughout the rest of Jesus’ ministry! You can read prior to this verse and following this verse all the way unto his time of death on the cross and see how he treated non-believers. With grace. Understanding. Truth. Hope. He genuinely loved the non-believer and guided him from exactly where he/she was at to where they needed to be. He understood the weight that each of them were burdened with.
While my husband was helping me as I struggled with my weight training, his response to my struggle was one of two. 1) He took some weight off and started me over or 2) He allowed me to stumble in my form and technique, but didn’t criticize me over it. Jesus did the same thing. As he hung out with the sinners he was criticized, not just for sitting with them, but for NOT getting them STRAIGHT. Think about it. If Jesus had stood up from his seat and said, “I have an announcement. I think you all are doing wrong and you should get out my sight and sin no more!!” do you think he would have been hated on by the religious folk? Nope. The fact was, Jesus was hanging out with these HEATHENS and not even saying ANYTHING about what they’ve been doing…?!?! Was he ashamed of the gospel? Was he too chicken to speak up? Or maybe he even had his own dirt that he didn’t want anybody pointing out, so he wasn’t going to say anything. No….. He was judging them. He was looking into their eyes and seeing the heaviness. He noticed both visible scars and empty laughter to cover up a terrible occurrence in their past. He saw their hollow expressions behind their egotistical remarks. The way they would glance back only for a second to see what He thought or would say. He could feel their dreams and TRUE desires slipping away from them as they wondered lost, angry, afraid, hurt. He was a good judge. He did not criticize them as they continuously stumbled underneath the weight. For others, he would lift the weight. He would comfort them, ease their pain, lend a helping hand, grant them a gift. The way my husband/trainer lightened my load so I could perform better and started me over, Jesus would lighten their load and THEN tell them, “Go and sin no more.” This was not a suggestion nor a nice, holy thing to say. This was an expectation of them to do better, now that the load was lifted.
I would challenge any believer to not be hasty in our condemnation of one another. If you see someone stumbling, it is because they are carrying a burden they have no business carrying, whether it is by their own fault or not. In Matthew 11:30 Jesus says, “My yolk is easy and my burden is light.” So if someone is struggling with a burden, it is not a burden placed there by God. They either are carrying other afflicting burdens along with God’s burden or they have someone else’s burden altogether. Our response should be one of two. If you feel lead to correct the issue, it should start with being a part of lifting the weight in their lives. If you cannot lift the weight or do not feel lead to, then don’t criticize them. It would be like my husband loading me with the maximum weight set, criticizing my form and telling me that I’m going to just be fat for the rest of my life if I don’t hurry up and get it right. And we know that would not have gone over well nor would have been effective. A judging attitude like that never is.