So let's stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. ~ Romans 14:13 (NLT)
It was my senior year of high school. It’s supposed to be the highlight, the result of making it through three years of high school struggles. Senior year is supposed to be the most glorious year for teens. So, I wanted to make sure I started it out with a bang! I went clothes shopping to get some new threads for my senior year wardrobe. I wanted to not just feel good about my final chapter in high school, I wanted to look good as well. I picked out new shirts, pants, belts, socks – basically everything. As I tried them on, I knew that I looked good, mature even. I was ready. On the first day of school, I had my new, favorite outfit put together. I entered the school feeling on top of the world. However, my day quickly came crashing down. There were a few girls in my class who immediately began to make fun of my fashion choices. And, they weren’t quiet about it. They were running all over the school saying, “Have you seen Chad today? Come one, you’ve got to see this!” Of course, the “this” they were referring to was what they deemed to be a ridiculous look for a 17-year-old. Let’s just say my year did not get off to the start I was hoping. I spent the day feeling sorry for myself.
I’m betting that many of you can relate to this story. You too have been condemned, or ridiculed at some point in your life. It’s not fun.
So, let me pose this question: Why do we do this to each other? Why do we condemn rather than lift up? Why do we judge rather than show mercy and grace? Why do we seek to tear people down instead of helping them through difficulties? The answer is startlingly simple: we’re sinners. But, that’s no excuse. If we have God, we are more than that.
As our verse today states, we must do things different as members and representatives of the Kingdom of God. We must stop condemning, and extend grace. We must seek to understand one another, rather than paint each other as somehow evil, or lesser than ourselves. We must always seek to do good, not bad. We must silence the voice that tells us to judge, and tune into the voice that calls us to love.
Today, and every day, practice grace. Practice mercy. Practice love.