My six month leadership Journey group at church is coming to an end soon. I've been so blessed to get to know the other ladies in this group. I've learned a ton through the books we've read and the conversations/meetings I've had with each of the girls. So much wisdom in these women!
Recently in two of the books I've read for this group, God has opened my eyes to yet another thing He wants me to work on as I become more like Him daily. It has been my prayer for probably the past year that I would be gentle in spirit. It is so endearing to be around women who have a gentleness about them. Doesn't mean they aren't strong, but it does mean they aren't loud and bossy! I long to be someone that others see as gentle. And more importantly - someone that I know is gentle on the inside too!
I think that as I seek to be gentle, God has taught me about the grace that He has extended. The benefit of the doubt that He gave me. He didn't jump to conclusions with me. The way He looks at me - by looking at my heart and my intentions and not always my messed up actions. He gave grace to me (and to YOU!) by allowing His only Son to die and be punished for my mistakes and sins. Jesus was my replacement. He was punished and died in my place so that I didn't have to. And now that He paid for those sins that I have committed, am committing, and will commit during my life - I can have a relationship with God Almighty - because my sins are covered and He sees me as pure and holy. Did I deserve to have my sins paid for? No. Did I do anything to earn this gift? No. It is purely grace that was given to me. Undeserved, unearned and generous. Just like a gift wrapped up and handed to me - all I have to do to receive it, is accept it out of the giver's hands. He's holding out that gift with a big bow on it to you, too - whether you accept it or not. But the joy of accepting this grace He's given is amazing. Letting Him into your life and saying, "I need help, I'm sorry, I can't do this on my own - thank You for paying for my sins with Your Son Jesus" - it's all that is needed to spend eternity in the presence of the God who is full of grace, benefits of the doubt, never jumping to conclusions, and a judge of the heart - not our messed up actions.
The Holy Spirit recently really grabbed my heart and asked - 'why do you not give others the benefit of the doubt? Why do you look at people's actions and judge so harshly? Why don't you look at their intentions and their heart?' Ouch... This really was hit home a month or so ago when I assumed something about someone (given the behavior I had seen in the past from this person) that ended up not being the case at all. Thankfully I had not opened my mouth to anyone except my loving husband, but it was still a sin. I am still grieved that I can be so cruel.
I tend to jump to conclusions over an action or a comment by another that isn't as straightforward as it could be. It may come from some past hurts - people intentionally hurting me - when there was no question that the words and actions were for nothing more than harm (because they said so and were clear.) It many also come from the past low self-esteem that I had for so long. The 'I assume the worst because I'm not worthy of the best' type thinking. I also know what I, myself, am capable of - I unfortunately am capable of mean thoughts and actions - so it's easy to think that the person in question may be doing that too. Negative self talk and lies of Satan has a role in this too. It is easy for me to go down a path in my mind that is not those 'good, pure, and true' things that I should be thinking of. Instead I wallow in the what if's and lies that the enemy enjoys using while I sit and 'assume' that she/he probably did that on purpose with very ill intent!
So, as I was reading this month, here is what I learned. "In general - you get what you expect from others." Here are some good guidelines:
- Don't assume the worst - assume the best!
- See things from their perspective.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt.
- Remember their good days not their bad ones.
- Forget about justice - instead, focus on grace and forgiveness.
- Appreciate what others intend - not only what they do!