“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come”—John 16:13 (NIV).
When I sit down to write, I pray for God’s Holy Spirit to give me the words—the right words, His words, words that encourage, nourish, energize, and sometimes, even convict. That last one was, I know, harsh.
But, it applies to all of us who are following Christ. We sometimes find our thoughts, words and actions lead to conviction from the Holy Spirit. That’s what happened to me recently.
On Wednesday, April 10, wind speeds gusted up to 25 or more miles per hour, depending on which weather forecaster you listened to that morning. Walking outside to get my mail before lunch, I was wearing shorts.
While the wind was toppling outdoor furniture and playing havoc with anything in its path, the temperature hovered in the low 80s. It was definitely not a day to burn leaves, which abundantly coat the lawns in our neighborhood.
Jumping to Conclusions
I’d just finished lunch when the smell of smoke wafted through my open kitchen window. Glancing outside, I noticed a heavy pall hanging over the forest of trees behind my house, partially concealing the source.
Stepping outside onto my deck, I managed to get a better view. My first thought was, “I bet that idiot who owns the empty lot (on the next street southeast of me) is burning brush.” Knowing the past habits of the lot owner, I assumed he decided it was okay to burn on a windy day.
Fuming Instead of Praying
Returning inside to work in my office, I didn’t think about praying. I was still fuming about the “idiot,” who I thought was burning leaves. Ten minutes later, I heard sirens. Watching the fire trucks race by my house, I hurried to my deck.
Flames shot through the roof of the house next door to the lot I assumed was the source of the present emergency. Curious, I stepped outside to the street where I talked to a local policeman directing traffic away from the scene.
Seeking the Truth
After learning the origin of the fire was not caused by the man I assumed was burning leaves, I was convicted. At that time, the cause of the house fire was unknown. I walked down the street to watch as firefighters battled the blaze, while fierce winds continued to hamper their efforts.
Water spouted from the large hoses of several fire trucks on the scene. Smoke choked the air, making it hard to breathe. Walking back toward my house, I felt the Holy Spirit’s conviction for judging the owner of the empty lot.
Like the smoke stifling the fresh air, I’d stifled the Holy Spirit’s work in me with my judgmental attitude. Putting one foot in front of the other, I continued home. As I did, I prayed, “Help me, Lord. Forgive me for jumping to conclusions and judging the person I assumed had started the fire.”
Overcoming a Judgmental Spirit
Recognizing our judgmental spirits requires us to approach the throne of God, asking for forgiveness each time we fail—and we will. It’s not a one-time event, but an ongoing struggle to let go of judging others. I know I’m not alone.
As Christians, we strive to do better, to avoid “being conformed to this world and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may prove what is good, acceptable and the perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
For All Have Sinned
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) is a scripture I need to have tattooed on my forehead. Before giving my heart to Christ, I strived for perfection to hide my imperfections. I also tended to judge others by my standards.
To live by God’s principles we should seek to obey the two greatest commandments: to love God and to love others as ourselves. Love everyone, not just those who conform to our ideal standards.
I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, or visit my blog for more inspiration at www.carolaround.com. If you need a speaker or workshop leader, you can contact me at the above e-mail or through my website. I’d be delighted to hear from you.