You might not like to admit this, I don't, but Jesus died for Hitler. He also died for Mother Teresa. One spent his life massacring millions of people. The other spent her life serving everyone but herself. But in God's eyes, neither one is better than the other. Now, how could that possibly be? Clearly Mother Teresa rocked her life out til the day she died.
But the problem with humans is that we're constantly judging by the wrong standards. For us Tradition Belt Christians, we all know at least a portion of the verse reminding us that even our best offering is a filthy rag in God's sight. And not just any filthy rag. The actual definition for this rag is talking about one homegirl uses for "that time of the month" or a leper would use to clean the oozing, rotting sores all over his body. Yeah, that's about as gross as it gets.
Your Nobel Peace Prize, your PhD, your world record time in the Olympics, your chart-topping song, your highest salary, your best act of kindness, guess what? All. Filthy. Rags.
Now that I've got you depressed and discouraged, let me tell you the good part. God doesn't judge us by the standards with which we judge each other and ourselves. I know I am unnecessarily hard on myself if I mess up at anything, be it a Spanish quiz or just painting my nails. God judges us by three main standards: Love, Forgiveness, and Grace.
All three of them are infinite and they give us the freedom to not necessarily do whatever we want, but live a life of joy and contentment. Have you ever read some of the rules from the Old Testament? They're nuts. And those rules aren't listed in the Bible because God expects us to follow them, they're there to show us that no matter how hard we tried we could never keep them all. And God doesn't demand 99.9% righteousness, He demands perfection.
That's why Jesus took our place.
So, as a response to this reminder, let me encourage you to do a few things:
- Quit beating yourself to a pulp every time you make a mistake, be it minuscule or colossal. You are never going to be perfect, so quit trying. After Jesus died and made a new way of life for us, He only gave us two rules to follow: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. And those are two of the hardest things you will ever attempt to do. You don't have the time or energy to do anything else. Plus, if you're growing and maturing in those two rules, everything else will certainly fall into place.
- Give up the idea that you can conquer someone else's sins. And I'm speaking this into my own life right now. Porn is a struggle for a lot of guys, and being the immature idiot I am at times, I always said that if I just kept pressing on I would come out on top. That these fake barbie bimbos could never compare to me because I have integrity and I love Jesus, yada yada. But the only way that I would come out on top is if Jesus claimed a victory over that sin every day in my friend, boyfriend, or husband's life. Don't get me wrong, you can make a huge difference in anyone's life in any struggle, but the victory, the healing, and the renewal does not belong to and is not because of you. That's all Christ.
- Stop holding people to standards that aren't realistic. I'll be the first one to admit that I'm terrible about this. I love projecting the way I go about a friendship or a relationship on another person, and when they don't do something that I expect of them, obviously they don't love me like I love them. I know, ridiculous.
Really loving someone is without a doubt the hardest thing in life. People are the worst. People aren't lovable. They're messy, and selfish, and mean. And we are all a person that makes up the people group of suck. But that didn't stop God from creating us, loving us, and giving us a purpose.
So, now that I've potentially wrecked your world a little bit, how are you going to love more and suck less?