Lately, I have been thinking about how many people I know are criticizing others instead of loving others (and I find myself criticizing the people I view as 'the critics'...beam much? Matthew 7:3). I have been convicted to just love. The sad thing is that we all have different viewpoints...what's wrong, what's right, what's good, what's bad, how situations should be handled and how they shouldn't be--the list is never ending. What's really been placed on my heart, though, is that if you are a believer in Christ--we ALL have the same Savior, the same Holy Spirit, the same God. We ALL have come from a place of death, and have been covered by His grace and mercy into a place of life.
Does criticism and gossip bring life or death?
James 3:1-12 "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships for example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire and is itself set on fir by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tress bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."
James1:26 "Those who consider themselves as religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves. Their religion is worthless."
Proverbs 16:28 "A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends."
Do we know everyone's struggles? Do we know their timeline of getting over their grief, their pain, their betrayal, or their strongholds? I ask these questions, because I have been so guilty of this lately. I would encourage everyone to love, to care for their 'friends'. If we can talk about them---we can love on them.
Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."
Job 19:19 "All my intimate friends detest me, those I love have turned against me."
Proverbs 22:11 "One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend."
Proverbs 17:9 "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends."
What are we doing to cover offenses? To stay closer than a brother? To heal wounds? Are we taking sides? I remember during my miscarriages, a passage in Romans that stood out to me.
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love.Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."I guess, the best way that this has woven itself into my heart is through this pregnancy. We all face something in life---it is a fact. I just pray that when my son or daughter (and even future children) go through one of those "things" that they have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. That they have a friend, right next to them crying--not because they understand, but because they love my child. I pray that my children are forces of greatness and healing in relationships with others instead of one who separates. I pray that my child will cover offenses with their love, and not point them out with judgement. I pray that this child, who is growing every week, will foster a love for Christ that translates to others. One of my favorite songs to describe this is "Words" by Hawk Nelson. Take a listen, even if you know it:
I can't find a good way to transition into an update. That bothers me so very much from a writing perspective. Anyway, I am feeling pretty good. I thought a funny way to update would be a segment that I notice throughout each week or couple of weeks or whatever so....
You Know You're Pregnant When....
1. People look at you with the question "Is she fat or pregnant?" in their eyes
2. You order maternity clothing that's "sized the same way before you were pregnant" and it doesn't fit.
3. You cannot plan a meal simply because as soon as you make it, you want something else.
4. You feel accomplished simply because you cleaned the kitchen, OR, laundry---but never both.
5.You have a super power---it's called your nose, and you can smell a little girl eating cheerios over 2 rooms away.
6. You could sleep all day, all night and still be tired....oh wait, you have to wake up to go pee, you have to readjust your nest of pillows every 30 minutes, you're wide awake at the most random times....the list goes on an on!
7.You're husband is quite literally the bravest man alive because he got you the food that was the only thing you thought you could stomach that day (peaches, pickles)
8. You have to eat All. Of. The. Time. Seriously. Or else you feel sick.
9. Your husband definitely starts appreciating C's and D's instead of A's and B's. (Please don't criticize this...please?)
10. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING fits right. You're too small to show off your