Welcome to the seventh post in our Love Series; I write as a fellow student.
I appreciate reader/new friend Mary’s feedback and share our exchange in case anyone else had similar questions.
Thank you for your thoughtful questions to my last post “Love Commits to You.” I won’t be able to answer all of them but I wanted to address your main concern.
I also appreciate your heart to know God more deeply, which is your response to God wooing you.
In your email, you wrote:
“Yet, even though we’re all in desperate need of God’s forgiveness and grace, I can’t help but think that there are better and worse Christians . . .
How do we be loving and not judging when we have to make so many judgment calls in life about our own behavior and in interactions with others? How do we rebuke someone in love, or is it not our place at all?
I so often feel like I judge myself or others when maybe the best thing for me to do would be to stop the negative self talk (in the case of judging myself) or keep my big mouth shut (in the case of judging others).
But, if I don’t judge/say something/express my disapproval, I feel like I’m somehow enabling sin, both mine and others’. Where is the line there???” [added paragraphs]
My quick email reply to you was:
“I’m sorry I wasn’t clear about “judge,” vs. “discern,” as we do need to discern what is good and what isn’t. . .
By “judge,” I meant the final verdict on a person like a judge at law, and I was trying to say in the post, we can’t do that because we’re not God. We are all in process in Christ.
I would be worried if anyone thought they had fully arrived in holiness this side of heaven. But we have hope (Phil. 1:6) because God will complete the work he began as we cooperate.”
I said I would pray about how to best answer you.
The main point of my last post: God loved us first and it had nothing to do with us being “better” than anyone else. What I meant when I used the analogy that you weren’t “dating” God as in trying to impress him so he would love you enough to choose you.
We all need grace before we follow Christ and we will continue to need grace afterwards.
In response to your question about rebuking/correcting in love and whether it is ever appropriate?
My short answer is “Yes,” followed by a long list of issues to consider before one opens one’s mouth, such as whether I’ve first checked to see if I have a log in my own eye before pointing out the speck in another person’s eye.
And of course, whether love for the other person is what motivates me to speak.
As a parent, I correct (and encourage) in love (mostly, except when I in my humanity–> fail).
I correct our daughter from love because I know if she does certain things, it will hurt her (either in the short term or in the long term).
I also apologize to her when I am in the wrong. (I stopped writing here yesterday.)
God answered my prayer on what to say to you
This morning I prayed about what to write to you and this Dallas Willard post from Renovaré came in my email.
I read it and thought, “Thank you, God, he said it so much better than I could.”
Funny, he wrote about correcting children (what I wrote last night in my reply).
Dallas defined “judge” as condemning and blaming someone and determining he or she is “irredeemable.” (This also parallels what I wrote in my earlier e-mail to you.)
Beyond “judge not,” Dallas also addresses “correcting” and issues I alluded to earlier that one must consider before discerning whether one or another is in sin. (He presumes sin exists.) Although he is talking about parents correcting his children, his approach also applies to other contexts.
To correct another without making this [total rejection of a person] happen requires great spiritual and personal maturity.—Dallas Willard
So I leave you with Dallas Willard’s wise words and I pray it answers some of your questions.
Please do not judge/condemn yourself in your mind; I have done that too often for too many years until God brought greater healing to my heart.
Finally, as I prayed, I felt led to ask you these questions, based on your earlier e-mail:
What makes it hard for you to fully believe and receive God’s agapé unconditional love for you? Why is it a struggle to believe?
What is causing you to focus more on the issue of “better Christians,” as opposed to resting first in God’s unconditional love and acceptance for you and letting his love transform you from the inside out (2 Corinth. 3:17-18)?
I hope I wasn’t too forward in asking you to consider the above questions in your time with God. I don’t ask in condemnation.
If you were sitting before me, my tone would be warm and my stance inviting, curious to know your story.
I ask you these questions as someone who struggled for many years to more fully rest in God’s unconditional, nonperformance-based love for me.
I write as one who is still learning to more fully rest in God’s love for me.
I write as one who regularly goes to God and asks for the grace to trust and to rest more in his love for me. It isn’t something I can force or control; thus, I need God’s grace.
In my little book A Guide to 7 Days of Soul Care (to be released in mid-September, prayerfully), I address some of the obstacles I’ve overcome to more fully experiencing God’s love.
Since God is infinite, I will never exhaust all I can know of God’s love. But I am grateful for being able to experience and believe in his love more deeply than I did thirty years ago or even ten years ago.
Praying God continues to reveal to you how beloved you are to him,
P.S. Subscribers, I’m working on a post (just for you) about some of the things I learned during my 40 Day Social Media, TV, and movie fast. Last night, our family watched the Olympics together.
And also linking with these wonderful friends
and Lyli of #ThoughtProvokingThursday