Posted on: 27th January 2020
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
How can we take time to personally reflect?
In 2001 we had ‘Pop Idol’, 2004 we had ‘X-Factor’ and 2007 saw the beginning of ‘BGT’. What do these shows have at their heart? Judges. I don’t know which stage of the shows you like the most. For some it is the early auditions in which members of the public have their dreams shattered. Others prefer the final stages where the rough diamonds have been polished, ready for a shot at Christmas number 1. But we cannot hide the fact that part of the entertainment is hearing the judgements of the ‘experts’ on the panel.
Contrast this to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7. Jesus gives a stark warning as to the consequences of judging others. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I do not want to stand in judgement over those celebrities on the panel, so I challenge myself to consider this week how I would like others to judge me, and reflect this in my judgement of others.
Each summer, my children and I go on WEC camp (check out the website, it’s awesome). They spend the week in tents and are part of a team of young people, often from across the world. As part of the ‘team’ element, tent inspections take place every day. Tents are marked very harshly to the highest standards and a winner is announced. My children love this as it is a competition. I decided that when we returned from camp, we would do random bedroom inspections, giving out points to the same high standard. This was fine, until my children decided that all bedrooms should be part of the competition. As you can imagine, the scores for the parent’s room were not the highest!
Jesus came to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. He taught about the kingdom and challenged the current thinking and attitudes of the day. Jesus’ words do that to us too. Take time this week to reflect on when you have judged someone else. Ask yourself, “Would I like that same judgement on me?”
Jesus was also full of grace and truth. His words were truth, but they were delivered by grace. This week, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you as you consider the challenge, ‘Do not judge’.
Posted on: 18th November 2019
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”
“Those who read, succeed!” I would like to suggest that: “Those who listen to someone else read on audiobook can succeed too.” But I would go one step further and suggest that unless you do something with what you have read, you are reducing the amount of success you achieve.
In Matthew 7:24, Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock.” What you hear and what you read has the ability to shape and act as a foundation to build a successful life on.
In a book by the British Table Tennis Champion Matthew Syed, he tells the story of his rise to success in the sport. His PE teacher saw him play at the age of eight, and told him he was talented. This leads to a discussion about talent, gifts and training. Matthew was an exceptional player for his age, but he also had an older brother who had played against him in his garage, every night for a few years. Matthew had a desire to play Table Tennis, but he also had practiced more than anyone his own age had. His older brother and a table in the garage were the gifts he had to get ahead, but he had to put in the effort. The book is called ‘Bounce’.
St Paul, writing to the believers in Rome, reminded them of the responsibilities of their faith. He told them that the spiritual gifts they had been given are different, and also he reminded them that it is the grace of God that brings them their gifts. Spiritual gifts are given for a reason, for the good of others. Paul lets them know that they were all part of a body and they had a responsibility to build others up. The challenge for the early believers is the same for us now.
Take time this week to consider the abilities you have developed, that you may have not used for a long time. Is it time for you to go back to these and use them again? The Holy Spirit gives gifts too, for us to use for the good of others. My prayer is that you will take time this week to connect with God and ask him to help you use your gifts to help others.
Posted on: 18th June 2018
“‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’”
Two men who shared a hospital room ended up becoming friends. One could sit up for an hour every day. His bed was beside the only window. The other man spent his life flat on his back. Each day the man at the window would describe the activity and colour of the outside world: the park overlooking the lake, ducks swimming, children playing, couples walking together, the skyline in the distance.
His friend, who could see none of this, smiled and imagined it all in his mind’s eye. One day the man by the window died and his roommate moved into his place. He propped himself up to look outside and was amazed to see a drab brick wall! Confused, he asked the nurse how come his friend had described the scenery in such glowing terms. She replied, ‘Actually, he was blind, and he couldn’t even see the wall. He just wanted to encourage you.’
Paul said, ‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’ There’s great satisfaction in encouraging people, especially when your own situation is less than ideal. One author writes: ‘When you tell someone they’re beautiful, you change how they see themselves. A girl in love thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world because her young man said so. When a teacher tells a student he’s smart, he works harder and achieves more. When a parent tells a child she’s loved, she has confidence to reach for the stars.