If we rejoice in others sufferings more than we rejoice in their successes, we should examine our hearts.
This Tuesday, I wrote about a tremendously hard moment in my life— when I had a precipitous labor. During this time, I wondered if I was going to make it…
To this post, a woman emailed me stating that my words were “shallow”. How dare I write on something as small as a birth when she had gone through so much more? She expected to be lifted up while my meager trial left her low.
While I empathize with her plight and pain, I just want to call-out something prevalent in our culture: the desire to use others pain to quell ours.
Is this even biblical?
We see it everywhere. It’s why women buy tabloids: to see a celebrity downfall. It’s why people cheer: those in high places are getting taken down. It’s why gossip happens: she thought she was so great.
When people fall, we, for a moment, feel lifted up.
Yet, Christ never told us to get out a measuring stick to compare plights. He never told us to fight about whose pain is more worthy of care. You may have a cancer scare that far surpasses another woman’s struggle with actual cancer. But, who cares? So what…about measuring and comparing?!
Jesus cares about the heart; comparing cares about measuring the height of someone’s flesh.
I believe that this concept of “measuring” is why women feel so afraid to share their struggle. We know that we risk being judged.
The reality is — none of us ever know what it is like to walk another day in someone else’s shoes…
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)
Jesus knew — pain is real. He wept over Lazarus’ death. He felt agony. He never condemned or dismissed people’s pain. He approached people with love and a heart to heal and help them.
Be wary of using someone else’s misfortune to buoy your emotions. Instead, draw near to success and failure, both, with a heart of love.
He was spinning slowly with a gigantic smile.
He was raising his fists, tightly pressed towards his stomach with pointing motions to the sky.
He was leaning in and jumping up. Smiling. Moving. Doing all kinds of crazy stuff.
“Why does he have to distract so many? Is he making a show for himself or a show of God’s honor? Is this kind of worship worthwhile?”
Completely distracted from God, my eyes were wallpapered. But, the more I looked, the more his background shined, just like the raindrop tattoo below his left eye. The more I looked, the more hardship, gangs, and possibly prison sentences were likely. The more I looked, the more I saw the real joy of absolute freedom, applicable grace and abundant peace written on his face of admiration and adoration.
I saw all of this. And then I saw him start to spin circles, eyes wide open, with me standing right behind him. The smile wouldn’t stop.
Eye contact? Awkward. Odd.
You couldn’t miss this one, so I didn’t. I watched even more.
And what I eventually noticed was this: for this man, it didn’t seem to be about showing off, or grabbing attention, but simply about celebrating his now set-free love with his full being, his entire body and all his emotions because one, far greater than himself, saved him. He appeared to be almost in the very throne room of Christ, simply enjoying the lavish love of his Savior.
Perhaps, he relished in the love that was always so hard to obtain? Moved into the acceptance that might have always turned the other direction? Basked in light that eluded him, crying “Amazing Grace” from a heart that lived anything but amazing – and probably agonizing in comparison?
Perhaps this man really got the point of worship.
Worship is the satiating wellspring of what never had a chance to spring up before Christ.
It is the power of a Savior to save you again in your moment of need.
It is celebrating the light of day,
despite the dark of night you lived because of your crime-laden past.
Does my heart move in tandem with Jesus’ in reckless, all-out, arms-open, heart-heeded abandon?
I don’t have to spin wild circles and make hand-gestures like a catcher, but the point is, would I or could I? In an outpouring of thanks, in the name of Jesus, could I pour out my heart through worship without worrying and fearing that I was embarrassing myself?
Would I go to those lengths to show him outlandish love?
To offer an outpouring of my best self and my highest worth, just as the woman washed Jesus’ feet in undressed affection:A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. Mt. 26:7
Others probably thought she was crazy.
Judas,the one who eventually walked right up to betrayal, shook hands with it and fell to its power, had this to say about the moment:“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” Jo. 12:5
Why does this worship-dancer have to be so crazy? Why does he have to draw attention? Why does he have to make a show?
Maybe the issue is not him – but me. I think I am far to comfortable with being comfortable. I am far too complacent in my complacent worship. I am far too judgy with Christian judgements.
Is this attitude bringing me closer to God’s heart?
Or is it simply pushing me out of God’s ring, to stand on the sidelines with a pointed finger?
Perhaps the things I want to judge are the things God is using to give me a nudge.
Perhaps the people that I look to mock, are those that should make me take stock over my spiritual walk.
Perhaps what I resist, is exactly where God wants me to persist.
You see, this man taught me a lesson. By taking a short second-break from analyzing and critiquing, I could see the heart of God revealing and beating.
I remembered how much Jesus loves outlandish outpourings of everything on to him.
But, how often are we too far consumed with the action’s of others, that the lessons of God fall on a path of concrete and grow no roots?
This man, he taught me how to give it all over. He taught me how to smile the words, “Worthy is the lamb,” and to mean it from every cell of one’s soul. He taught me, that the best gifts are the ones that are offered to God through a heart that is only outpouring for him. He taught me, don’t judge the ones who are different, because their “different” may be what brings us into “oneness” with God. He taught me to accept what is outside of my God-parameters. He taught me to be a little bit more open to other’s interpretive movements of surrendered love.
He taught me that my judgements are cause for greater worship,
because they are already forgiven.
So, as they ushered him out of the church aisle, and escorted him out of the church, I said, “Thank you God for this man, you see, what was lost, is now found for him – and he knows it. But, more importantly, he is not afraid to show it. Help me to be like him – not just to know, but to celebrate every cell of goodness stored up in the gift of you. Help me to love you freely and fanatically today.”
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This shack caught my eye. Roaming chickens looked for their next meal. A swing set made of tires and recycled metal stood as an eye-sore. Men congregated in chairs on top of a dirt yard. And, one man climbed through the side window as if it was his front door.
Is this a crack house?
That man hanging out by the front door, he must be out of work.
The woman, whose knees I could just barely see through the open front door, she must be baking in that 100 degree house with no A/C.
Then I saw her, a little girl. One much the own size and stature as my own little girl. One who would make your heart say, “Awww”. She came running out of the house with all her might and beelined to the play set next to my traffic-stopped car. Her mom, rose from her sitting postion, chased her, swooped her deeply into her neck and gave her one giant love hug.
A mother, much like me.
A mother driven by love.
Overwhelmed with God’s gift of motherhood.
My heart instantly connected to this woman because her great love was apparent. It shone like the top of the Chrysler Building.
And it touched me. It reached over the fence to say, “You may live miles away from this woman. You may live entirely differently, but you are still driven by the same thing – LOVE.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
Love is the universal language that meets all hearts.
You may not know what to say, but love does.
Love transcends the boundaries of society, etiquette and race.
It is the greatest wonder of the world.
Love tramples down the barrier of initial perception;
it is the amplifier of real connection.
This woman pierced my heart. We may live miles away – she in Costa Rica and me in the US. We may have entirely different lifestyles, me in comfort and she with little, but she was the one with the lesson to teach me.
She taught me that when I judge, and often when I feel badly for someone, there is pride hanging out under that hood. If I really take a hard look into my inner workings, there is a girl wanting to stand a little taller, be a little prouder and seem a little wiser.
There is a girl that says, “Too bad they aren’t like me.”
It may be disguised in a heart of service or care, but I should never fool myself into thinking I am the great giver. Because when I make the choice to stand above, rather than with, I lose the opportunity to let God work – in.
I wear the guise of power-girl instead of seeing God as power-full!
Where do you hold power, see your power and exert your power?
How might God be calling you to lay down your status of power,
to raise up the power of his cross?
Judgement is often derived from one who (knowingly or unknowingly) thinks they stand in the power position – or at least that is how it worked for me.
1. an attempt to rise above our own weaknesses, so we feel better about ourselves. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Mt. 7:3
2. self-mutilation. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. Lu. 6:37
3. a quick-opinion on what could stand as a life-long struggle for another. Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. Jo. 8:7
4. a roadblock to the grace which is available to all hearts, at all times in all ways. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Eph 2:8
5. a prohibition of authenticity in our relationships.
We become fearful that others may smile and slap us in the face much in the same way we have done to others.
Judgement rides your worth high for a moment and then drops you in shame before you know it. It puts an ocean of differences between two people who have much of the same mess, playing out in different ways.
We are all people on the great hunt for love.
We are all just crazy, sometimes lonely, often emotional, people
in search of something to bring us peace, hope and joy.
We are all searching, but if we are judging, how can we help others to go about finding the answer – Jesus?
I don’t want to be so caught up in the wrongs of others, that I forget to reach them with the rights of Christ.
In this, I will never forget this woman, not because of where she lived, which is memorable, but because of how she loved. In that moment, I saw our great connection – she and I could be friends.
She taught me to see the things that are the same, to see the love and to make that the connection point.
I never expected to get this lesson from her, in this way, but, there are probably many who have gotten a lesson in pride along a trafficked road.
Did you like “Crack Shack to Love Shack to Judgement Free?”
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“Look at her. She has it all. It must have been easy for her. She doesn’t have the same barriers that I have. I could do that too if I had the financial resources that she has, the support she has, the backing, the connections. She is confident. Nothing can take her down. I want to be like her, but I will never be as good, as insightful or as knowledgeable. I can’t. I will never do “BIG” things. She’s the whole package. I may as well give up.”
Comparing is wearing. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. It brings us down and settles us in a place of insecurity. When “comparing” is our companion, we are only as secure as the depth of another’s weakness.
How sad is that? Our strength balances on our assessment of another’s faults, lack of material items or “less than” appearance.
“COMPARING” STANDS AND TAUNTS: “I think I am prettier. I am smarter. I am happier.”
“My car is better. My house is better. My family is better”
” I am less than you. I am nothing.”
“You are better than me. I may as well give up.”
“You are respected. I feel dejected.”
“You are so put together. I am ready to fall apart.”
“You are so rich. Why can’t I have more?”
“Your clothes are perfect. Mine are outdated.”
“You have a neat house. I interact with my kids more.”
“You have kids that show you love. I have a neater house.”
“You may know so much about God. I think I love others more.”
“You love others. I know more about the Bible & God.”
“You serve. My faith is stronger.”
“You do so much. God loves me less”
“You are so “insert judgment here”, I am so “insert feel good response here”. “You are so “insert praise here”, I am so “insert a “less than” comment here”.
Aren’t we made for more than this?
Comparing takes us on the up and down roller coaster ride – called “judgment”.
And, it drops us off feeling inflated or deflated.
3 WAYS COMPARING IS BAD FOR US:
1. OTHERS BECOME THE BAROMETER OF OUR WORTH.
We feel unvaluable. So, we either look to others to confirm our worst suspicions or we look to put others down to lift ourselves up. Either way, others hold the power to sink us or to let us swim.
We win or lose. There is no middle ground. We are either better than or less than. No matter, we always stand ready to fall. Our position is constantly threatened – there is always someone who is better, who has more or who is more talented.
“In all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.” (2 Cor. 10:12 Msg)
2. WE MISS “LOVE”.
Notice the theme of comparing? It is all about “US”! What if the person we are so quick to judge, has a life that is stuck in the sludge? What if they need encouragement, love and help? What if they feel worse than you?
When we compare, we have eyes that only see our own pain. We were created to love others. We completely miss the point of this when our greatest pursuit is seeking our own worth.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16) Let’s make it about His story, not our glory.
3. WE MISS GOD’S GLORY IN OUR WEAKNESS.
You may be asking yourself, “Why is this bad? It is good to rely on yourself. At least then you are in control.”
When we rely on ourselves, we miss the chance to see God as he fills up our weak areas. We miss his glory as he works out his story. We miss the opportunity to learn about ourselves – as we trust Him. We miss the opportunity to see how he wants us to grow in love. We miss so much.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10 NIV)
We now have a great understanding of the 3 ways comparing is bad and damaging for us. Be encouraged, in Part III we will look at the 3 Ways you Can Overcome “Compare” to Find Repair.
God is a God of grace, love and forgiveness. We have all fallen into comparing at some time or another; he loves you and has a plan to help you change. Comparing is bad, but God is good. He has great plans to help you.