Have you ever felt ashamed by the thoughts roaming around in your head? I have. Have you ever felt negative emotions toward others that you have no idea where those emotions stemmed from? I have.
Case in point. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been horrified at the copious amounts of judgemental thoughts that popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. Those thoughts were about people I know well as well as complete strangers. Pastors, friends, people on Social Media, ministry leaders, even random strangers!
I am, by nature, a pretty non-judgemental person. Am I discerning? Yes. I might sense someone is struggling with something. What that thing might be, I don’t always know. I might sense they are going through a rough time, but I don’t use that discernment as a license to pronounce judgment over them.
I’ve been taught that discernment is a gift best used in my prayer closet, and so I must pray into each situation with love, compassion, and the sure knowledge that I surely don’t know everything, and it is not my job to be the judge and jury over the motivations and intents behind another person’s actions or words. God’s heart is full of compassion and love, and Jesus is their saviour, advocate, and judge. God is much more insightful than I will ever be!
So, just where were those thoughts coming from? Why was I so irritated around some people? Why was I avoiding reading their social media statuses? Why didn’t I want to talk with them in person? Although I am an introvert, I love people! I tend not to look down my nose at folks who find themselves in a tight spot. Usually, I find their story is not much different than mine. They need the grace of God just as much as I do!
I took Psalm 139:23 to heart. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”
In response, the Lord led me to revisit the video and blog I posted a few weeks back, “Let’s Get Real.” In that Vlog, I brought up the subject of suicide, self-hatred, and mental illness. Three individuals subsequently contacted me within hours of that video, each of them writing to say that my post probably saved their life. I successfully encouraged them to seek help within their local community. The epidemic of crippling depression and severe suicidal thoughts among God’s people continues to grow.
Kris Vallotton, a man I admire for his wisdom and prophetic insight, posed this question in a recent sermon. Have you ever met someone for the very first time, and although there was nothing off-putting in their appearance or social graces, you felt an instant dislike for that person, or at the very least, you felt a need to put distance between you and them? Some might say that was a nudge of the Holy Spirit warning you to stay away. That might be the case in a few instances. Maybe the Lord is highlighting them so you can take them to your prayer closet. Or perhaps, just perhaps, there is another answer.
Perhaps their self-loathing, self-condemnation and inner belief that they are only worthy of rejection are so strong that they subconsciously push people away before those people can discover who they really are. Perhaps they have been fed a lie all their lives by the enemy and by those who abused a position of trust that their lot in life is to be rejected. Their body language, facial expressions, and subtle or not so subtle reaction to meeting you for the first time send a signal that you subconsciously pick up. Stay away, if you really got to know me, you would know I don’t deserve your respect or trust.
I cried out to the Lord for relief from these relentless negative thoughts toward people I usually respect and admire or those to whom I typically feel compassion toward, and He answered. “These are the thoughts and feelings that those individuals are regularly having about themselves. They aren’t your thoughts. I wanted you to be aware of them so that you can pray for those individuals. They need the courage and strength to come out of hiding and to allow others to see they need help.” As soon as He spoke, those thoughts ceased and have not returned. Thank God!
Will you join me in praying for those in the Body of Christ who are suffering in self-made prisons of self-condemnation? Will you pray that God will break the oppressive yoke of comparing themselves to others from their necks? Will you pray that they will seek help and allow themselves to be led to the cross, where they can lay those burdens down?
I have felt especially led to pray for pastors and ministry leaders. May we repent of any judgments we have placed upon them and may we repent of comparing them with other pastors or leaders. Let’s pray that these men and women of God fully embrace the unique calling God has placed on each of their lives to follow the path God called them to follow.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
Until Next Week
©2018 Katherine Walden
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