Our pastor preached on I John today and the importance of being honest with oneself and with God in regards to sin. The point of the message was that we are not perfect and need God's forgiveness, but first, we have to be honest about the fact that we have a sin that needs to be forgiven. He went on to explain that sin builds a barrier between us and God and breaks down our communication with God.
Following the sermon, a member gave his testimony that was so poignant! I had a lightbulb moment and realized, it would be so much easier to admit to our sin if we were not judged by those around us. It is so easy to tell a small lie or to be someone we are not when we are afraid of judgment.
Case in point: I once made a conscious decision to lie because I knew I was facing severe judgment. The incident was simple. I had not yet visited my newly born niece who lived three hours away. When asked about it the first time, I responded honestly and was profoundly admonished. The second time I was asked, and still I had not made the three hour drive, I lied to avoid judgment.
A friend of mine recently lied about the number of weeks she is pregnant because she had not shared the news with a relative. So she lied taking a month off her pregnancy so as not to be judged by the other person. Little did she know the other person would not have judged her, but it was her fear of being judged that propelled the lie.
With this thought in mind, I posted the following on Facebook:
When did honesty become devalued? Honesty with ourselves, honesty with others, and honesty with God is not given enough credit in our society. We should applaud anyone for being honest and not judge them for being honest. Yet, it is judgment that we receive for our honesty which in turn devalues that honesty.While this post can be considered the age old question of "If my wife asks, 'do I look fat in this dress,' how do I answer?" It is not! The question is why can one not commit a sin--large or small--confess that sin and not be judged for it. Why can we not see past the sin and love the person where they are? God did so much more for us, and yet, we find it impossible to accept that people are sinners. We immediately judge and condemn their actions... as if we had that right.
Judgment is reserved for God alone. When a person shows true remorse and a desire to walk away from that seen and is seeking forgiveness, we should grant them the same love and forgiveness granted to us upon the cross.
I am not saying that punishment is not in store, but forgiveness should be in store as well. Dismissing the arguments about murder and the like, stop and think about those around you. I realize immediately that I have been judgmental, and in that I have sinned as well. My quest will be to stop judging and to be more forgiving. I also realize I have not forgiven one who has judged me, and that too is a sin.
Being honest with myself is not easy and being honest with others incurs judgment. Step back from the age old arguments about punishing murders or answering honestly about new haircuts.
How do we judge others on a daily basis? How do we extend God's mercy on a daily basis? Let he who has never sinned be the first to judge.