Waterways of Winsome Grace

As you may recall, for Lent I gave up judging others. Needless to say, it’s a grace-work in progress!

Recently I was taking a prayer walk on the path around the lake and meditating on Jesus’ words “Do not judge…”

Then I noticed a man in his late 20’s striding my way with bravado. I began to judge him and wish he wasn’t in my neighborhood. I resumed reciting Jesus’ words: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your neighbor’s eye…”

About two minutes further down the path I suddenly realized what I had just done! I’m trying to take a speck out of that man’s eye and I have a log in my own eye! Forgive me, Lord. I need your mercy. I have so much more to learn from you.

Right then the waterways of winsome grace came flooding into my soul! I felt the flow of God’s presence when I took the log out of my own eye.

It was as if Jesus the Carpenter-Psychologist was chiding me, “Instead of sitting back and judging other people who are working and getting specks of sawdust in their eye, get to work on your own log. Get out your saw and tools and make something that will bless people!”

When we judge people we’re being lazy with our soul work — we’re defending against looking at and getting help with our own brokenness and badness. That log blocks the rivers of grace.

One result of working on our own log is that now and again we get a speck in our eye. It hurts! And sometimes we can’t get it out without assistance. That in turn helps us develop tender-hearted empathy for people who have a painful speck in their eye! (We’ll come back to empathy in a minute.)

“Don’t push your pearls on people,” Jesus continues in effect. Pearl-pushing judges people. They can’t digest our “pearls” of insight and advice. Hungry and angry, they may take a bite out of our leg!

Then our Carpenter-Psychologist uncovers another underlying reason for judging: we don’t want to ask for what we need.

Asking is natural for children who have an emotionally attentive and nurturing parent. But if you haven’t been saturated in seeking love and warm regard from a person then it’ll feel too vulnerable to ask others for what you need. Or you may not even know what your emotional needs are! You’ll tend to “protect” yourself unconsciously by judging (or fixing) others instead of feeling your emotions and letting yourself be “needy”.

We’ll miss out on the love of our heavenly Father always near and ready to help!

To experientially know the Father’s love we need to return to asking God and people for what we need. Often this begins with asking emotionally safe and strong people to listen to us and help us to discover what we need. This is a huge point of Jesus’: asking God and asking people go together. You can’t really do one without the other. God shows his love through people and trusting people helps us trust God.

Finally, Jesus offers his famous Golden Rule, which summarizes his whole sermon. But we’ve wrongly turned this into a rule about kindness. It’s actually about empathy — which leads to offering whatever lovingkindness would bless people.

Essentially, Jesus’ Gold Nugget is “In everything you do put yourself in other people’s skin to consider what they feel and need and then do for them what you would want if you were that person.”

May God help us to resist judging others by working on our own log, asking for what we need, and giving and receiving the empathy that leads to lovingkindness. Then the waterways of winsome grace will flood into our souls!


Jesus’ Greatest Teaching

Have you ever read Matthew 7:1-12 this way? The whole Sermon on the Mount?

There’s a startling brilliance in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Studying it and applying it to my life has brought me a treasure-store of blessings. I share what I’ve learned in my 42-page booklet Jesus’ Greatest Teaching.

This is great for personal devotions or small groups. It’s only available in the Soul Shepherding online store as a PDF download. It can be yours right now for just $3.99. Check it out here.


“Soul Talks” Podcast: Resting in God’s Grace

Grace comes to nourish and empower us as we pray Jesus’ cross prayer of abandonment, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” It’s “letting go” and resting in God’s provision. We need this prayer each day and when we or a loved one die. We can hold Jesus in our heart — even as Mary cradles Jesus when he dies.

We’re covering Stations 13 and 14 in “Unforsaken: With Jesus on the Stations of the Cross.” We invite you to join our week-by-week journey during Lent.


How is Soul Shepherding Blessing You?

“Thank you for the reminder of the unrelenting love of the Father! I am so grateful for a sense of belonging in the Soul Shepherding community — a taste of the Father’s Kingdom right here, right now!”

Nancy Harper
Pastor’s wife & ministry leader
Grace Church
Cleveland, OH

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