Monday, February 13, 2006

No Condemnation

This thought started yesterday as Pastor Sam closed his best sermon yet on the spirit of a woman (part 2 in his Foundations series) with the classic passage of the Proverbs 31 woman but he introduced it in such a way that it appeared in a whole new light. I usually think of this as a woman-to-woman passage - strait from the King-Mother’s heart to yours here are 21 verses to give you a guilt complex! Pastors, women’s writers and teachers hold this passage up as a “lofty goal”, "the ideal" or whatever (just google "Proverbs 31 woman" and you'll know what I mean), but yesterday afternoon as Pastor Sam read these verses the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that instead of a woman-to-woman “ought”, this was written in more of a man-to-man “praise” style. Men never truly comprehend what it is that we women do in a day. So instead of hearing woman-to-woman style “if you want to be a good wife you ought to get up before the sun rises and work every minute until way past sun-down” I heard the man-to-man of “my wife works so hard! She practically never goes to bed.” Do you hear the difference? Isn’t it freeing? I want to be worthy of that kind of praise, not trying desperately to live up to that kind of expectation.

Then this morning as I was reading in John’s gospel I read these words “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM IS NOT CONDEMNED, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

This reminds me of Romans 8:1ff “There is therefore NOW NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus…for God has…by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh… condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be FULFILLED IN US who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit... for those who are in the flesh cannot please God… For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God.”
I have the following thoughts about condemnation:
1. Reject thoughts of self-condemnation. They are not of God
2. Reject condemning words of others. Ditto.
3. Reject condemning thought towards others. It is for God to judge (I’m thinking of that passage that says that we do not judge each other’s servants but that the servant must be acceptable to his or her own master, so we ought not to act judgmentally towards others because it is ultimately God who will judge.)

A verse I read last night in 1 Peter 2:4, said that we are like Jesus Christ, living stones and that we too are rejected by men but in Gods eyes are chosen and precious. Sometimes I am so afraid of being “rejected by men” especially by my husband (momentarily) or other women in the Christian community. I want to learn to look past that rejection to my Abba Father who sees me as precious.
It’s one thing to say this and completely another to live like it’s true. I struggle and strain, desperate to win the approval of others. When I already have the approval of God. Or I paste on a smile and pretend to be fine when I’m broken and falling to pieces.

I’ve been listening to WOVEN & SPUN by Nicole Nordeman and the Holy Spirit has brought the words alive to me again. Some lyrics that particularly encouraged me:

From the song “Mercies New”
The distance left between East and West
Is how far You would go to forget the debt I’d owe
And thrown into the sea, the wicked ways in me
Will never have a chance to wash back on the sand…
Your mercies are new every morning
So let me wake with the dawn
When the music is through or so it seems to be
Let me sing a new song, old things gone
Every day it’s true, You make all Your mercies new.

From “Even Then”
When expectations are too great
And the bar gets raised too high
So I do the best with what I’ve got
And hope that no one knows
That I strain to see how high I can
Try to stand on these toes
Until I’ve measure, but You know better
So, Thank you, Jesus
Even when You see us just we are
Fragile and grail and so far
From who we want to be
So. Thank You, Jesus
Even when the pieces are broken and small
Dreams shatter and shatter like the wind
Thank You, even then.

From “Take Me As I Am”
Oh to wear wisdom like Solomon’s robe
For the patience and perspective of a man like Job…
And the list gets longer
Who I wish I was and was no longer
I never could be good enough
To measure up
But you want to take me as I come
You’re the only one that can
Take me as I am
At the end of myself, at the end of the day
I can find little else but the courage to say I need you
That’s all… I need You

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