you are their worst

Posted: December 8th, 2010 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , | 29 Comments »

I get a lot of questions from people who are watching someone else make bad choices. They want to know about grace: whether or not they are supposed to offer it, how to offer it, and what it will end up looking like if they do. It’s awesome that they’re aware that they could handle this whole thing wrong, but there is a deeply rooted issue that they are completely forgetting. (I need you to know that I’m not angry, but I am very passionate about this subject.)

What do you do when another Christian knowingly disobeys God?

We all knowingly disobey God. We are always in a current state of wrong and in desperate need of Jesus at every moment. You could argue that, but you’re only arguing to reach the result of not needing Jesus in moments and spaces.

It’s so much easier to see the failures in others than it is to see them in yourself. Go ahead an argue the types of sin, but they are all equal. As bad as you make the person next to you is as bad as you are. You are not independent of the worst of them. You are their worst. It’s like your right eye trying to get all of us to join you in shaming your left eye. The left eye doesn’t bow to the right.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls.Romans 14:4 ESV

Even with both eyes you can’t see everything. It’s absurd and laughable for you to expect the right eye to accurately monitor the errors of the left eye.

Here is a promise: if you can see a splinter in you friend’s eye, you can be absolutely certain that there is a plank in yours. I would be really slow to start calling out the sins of others. It’s like taking a black-light to your own secrets. Things are there that you don’t even know about. Just go home and be thankful that God doesn’t show you your own crime scene photos. If you’re so bothered by the failures of others, then you’d be devastated by your own.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. -Matthew 7:3-5 ESV

You have enough of yourself to keep you busy thanking God for grace for the rest of your lives. If you can finish being thankful and make time to start looking at the others, then something is wrong.

What does grace look like?

Let’s say you have a pretty, middle-class neighborhood of law and covenant abiding citizens. In that neighborhood, one of the family’s has a kid who is terrorizing the local cats. His behavior is unacceptable and not conducive to the environment you’re all trying to keep.

You could talk about him at your barbecues, feel sorry for his parents or drag them through dirt with him, and you can even be audible and visual about your displeasure. Taking a ride down the path of self-importance and comparison is a cheap way to cast a shadow over your poor lawn and hole digging dog. No one is paying attention to the cars illegally parked on the street because there is a bigger sinner among you. The relief you feel in not being the one not liked is enough to water down the bigger picture and strengthen your self-preservation resolve.

That bigger picture being that this kid has an issue that has nothing to do with cats. People don’t sin without there being something deeply hurting within them. A child can go into adulthood never dealing with the pain of their childhood and it manifests itself in a sin that doesn’t seem to be tied to anything but selfishness. Selfishness is a cry for love. If you would find out what hurts and fix that, then you fix the sin that is showing up on the surface.

No one can heal the hurts and brokenness of life like Jesus can. Pointing out the superficial layers only intensify the alienation and lack of love that is causing the problem in the first place. In my analogy of the kid in the neighborhood, maybe he is left alone too long because his parents are working their heads off to make ends meet. He’s bored, lonely, and needs his community to step in and take up some of the weight he and his family are unable to carry on their own.

Grace gets to the root rather than excusing and ignoring the behavior. It’s a tough job being a part of a community that is tied together by love rather than by performance and appearance. Grace always comes at the cost of self-preservation.

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. -Galatians 6:1-3

Do you challenge them?

Challenge them to not give up on themselves or their faith in God in spite of everything inside them that is proving how unworthy they are. Faith in God’s grace is the biggest challenge of all.

Do you keep them in your life?

Does Jesus keep you in His?

Does it appear that you are supporting their behavior if you maintain a friendship?

It doesn’t matter how it appears. Appearances are the biggest obstacle in front of a person who wants to stand up for Jesus but is afraid of what people will think. Stop worrying about what people think. You can’t please everybody. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll be able to get on with the more important aspects of this life we live in Jesus. This isn’t a country club. Salvation is a messy business. If you’re too afraid of getting dirty, then get out of the way.

Give me your thoughts on being obedient to God and to His word.

For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? -Galatians 5:14-15

Love others as you love yourself. Do you want people to give up on you because you have issues? Do you want people to talk about your dirt behind your back? Do you want to feel like you’re not welcome at your own church? Can you actually listen to these people who are in their own phase of junk? Can you put yourself in their place and take a turn walking in their crooked and ill-fitting shoes?

It’s horrible to be in the valley of your own stink. It’s terrifying to not see a way out and to watch every single person, who claimed to love you unconditionally, walk out on you. God allows us to go through the wicked hall of mirrors. He has a purpose for us seeing our worst. What’s worse than knowingly choosing wrong? If they had someone other than themselves to blame, then threshing process wouldn’t be happening.

God doesn’t leave us as victims or casualties. He allows the fire to burn holes in everything false. You can’t sit there and decide that a living, breathing person is finished with their life and they’re done for. The only person who would want to convince a wounded soldier that they are dead is the opposing army.

It’s time to take the spiritual battle for our faith seriously. Is there any sin known to man that could make God walk away from someone and never look back?

For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won’t walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.” The God who has compassion on you says so. -God, through Isaiah 54:10

What part of your relationship with God makes you think that you should give up on someone? When you walk away from the fallen, you are walking away from God because He is carrying them.



29 Comments on “you are their worst”

  1. 1 Jodie | Velour said at 8:33 am on December 8th, 2010:

    This is so good, Serena. I really feel like God is growing me in this area – so much, and I can see progress, thankfully. I credit your writing and the work of the Holy Spirit through you and others like you. Keep on writing!

  2. 2 Rebekah said at 8:38 am on December 8th, 2010:

    This is me jumping up and down, and all around, loving this post!!!!

  3. 3 Sarah Mae said at 8:59 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Serena! God is teaching me this very thing:

  4. 4 Dusty Rayburn said at 9:03 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Grace and forgiveness are probably the most difficult things for us to extend to others. As Christians we have come to depend upon God's grace upon our lives, but somehow we forget or overlook that others need it as much as we do. Not more. Not less. But as much as.

    I really appreciate what you have shared here.

  5. 5 Serena Woods said at 9:06 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Jodie: awesome. 🙂

    Rebeka: thanks!

    Sara Mae: me, too. I loved yours, by the way. 🙂

    Dusty: Grace is like oxygen, you can't breath it in if you don't exhale it out.

  6. 6 Sarah Mae said at 9:11 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Even though I used "so"?


  7. 7 Serena Woods said at 9:17 am on December 8th, 2010:


    It was sooo perfect.

  8. 8 Natalie at Mommy on said at 10:18 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Wow. "Grace always comes at the cost of self-preservation." Amen. Beautifully written.

  9. 9 Serena Woods said at 10:36 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Thanks, Natalie. 🙂

  10. 10 Crystal said at 10:49 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Loved this:

    "The only person who would want to convince a wounded soldier that they are dead is the opposing army."

    We are dealing with this inside my extended family. My husband and I have been mocked for extending grace to some family who are known for abusing relationships and taking advantage. But you know, my allegience is to Christ, not to them or anyone else. And Christ tells me to love, give grace and forgive offenses. So, I will do my best.

  11. 11 Crystal said at 10:57 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Love this:

    "The only person who would want to convince a wounded soldier that they are dead is the opposing army."

  12. 12 Justin said at 11:07 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Thanks for the truth, Serena. Great post, as always.

  13. 13 Serena Woods said at 11:56 am on December 8th, 2010:

    Thanks, Crystal and Justin. 🙂

  14. 14 Melissa said at 1:36 pm on December 8th, 2010:

    I would not be shocked if you could hear me "amen-ing" as I read this! Thank you for keeping it all about grace!

  15. 15 Emily said at 2:08 pm on December 8th, 2010:

    Amen and Amen. I believe that "the church" is so worried about "taking a stand" on what God deems as right or wrong that it has forgotten the message of Jesus in the process and in turn has lost countless souls. 30 years ago divorce was shunned in the church and I do believe that it has come a long way for the most part, however it picks and chooses other "hot topics" and issues to stand up against and ends up turning it's back on a lost and dying world. We are all LOST and in need of a savior. I am so sick of Christians constantly picking at the specks of sawdust in others' eyes and not taking the planks out of their own!! Now I just need to return that same grace that I'm asking of them on those who do that very thing!! Please continue your writing Sabrina! I am extremely grateful to God for you and your message!!

  16. 16 Emily said at 2:11 pm on December 8th, 2010:

    Serena!!! How embarrassing! …been a long day…

  17. 17 Serena Woods said at 4:01 pm on December 8th, 2010:

    Melissa: it's my favorite. 🙂

    Emily: Love it. 🙂

  18. 18 Courtney (WomenLivin said at 5:01 pm on December 8th, 2010:

    Thank you Serena – you always take me deeper – deeper into God's truth and God's grace.


  19. 19 Serena Woods said at 5:06 pm on December 8th, 2010:

    you make me smile from my heart, Courtney.

  20. 20 you know who said at 5:40 pm on December 8th, 2010:

    I pray this very thing for my own family. We are on the eve of sentencing. Please Serena, and everyone who follows this blog and believes in the Grace of the Master…pray for my parents tomorrow (Thursday morning 8:45 am EST) as my dad will receive his sentencing from the judge. We are praying for peace for my mom especially, and that truly God's will be done.

    Thank you… I will let you know the outcome sometime tomorrow or tomorrow night…

  21. 21 Serena Woods said at 5:46 pm on December 8th, 2010:

    I know who: thank you for letting me (us) be a safe place for you.

  22. 22 Jeri Taira said at 9:45 am on December 9th, 2010:

    This is entirely perfect for me to have read today. I'm so glad my first time here is in this posting. I found you through Sarah Mae sharing this and your video. I'm blessed by them both and you all. I really needed to be fed this for what's been done and said to me and for my own words and actions. Grace, grace, and more grace and the wisdom to know how to live in it.

  23. 23 Sarah Elizabeth said at 11:33 am on December 9th, 2010:

    Hi Serena,

    Thanks again for pulling it all back to the cross and pointing to Jesus, I'm so blessed by your writing.

    My friend Dan Merchant wrote this blog post some time ago and it really made this fear we, as Christians, have of "condoning sin" make sense.

    If you haven't seen Dan's film, Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, do it! (Its on Netflix instant watch) He has an amazing ability to highlight the failures of the church with grace, love, and a healthy dose of humor. In doing so he offers the wounded some validation and extends an olive branch to those of us who have been guilty of wielding the gospel like a club. I have seen a huge amount of healing catalyzed by his work.

    Plus he's just a GREAT guy, I really can't say enough about him. Watch the film, read the book, you'll be blessed! I have a copy of each I'd love to send you! :o)

  24. 24 Angela Andrews said at 2:02 pm on December 9th, 2010:

    This is the very topic and some of the very passages Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about for months. "The only person who would want to convince a wounded soldier that they are dead is the opposing army." That quote will ring in my ears for days; I hope it will ring for weeks, in fact. Thank you for telling the truth in love.

  25. 25 Serena Woods said at 2:49 pm on December 9th, 2010:

    Sarah Elizabeth: thank you so much for sharing that link. It's encouraging. 🙂 I have heard of his film and have netflix, so I'll watch it soon. I'll email you to take you up on that offer for a copy of the book. !! 🙂

    Angela: it's awesome to have conversations with people who are hearing the same Voice whispering in the wind. 🙂

  26. 26 you know who said at 5:54 pm on December 9th, 2010:

    Ok. My dad was sentenced to 60 days in jail today. The judge told him he could report back on the 6th of January to begin serving his sentence. This would allow him the opportunity to spend the holidays with mom. Probation will be determined on the 6th.

    We are grateful for the prayers. Please continue to pray for peace. My parents are facing some tremendous financial burdens on top of everything else. Dad lost the job he had when the company found out about everything. He is unable to work, or apply for work. He needs a surgical procedure for a torn rotator cuff, and he can't have the surgery, apply for unemployment, or even file for his social security benefits until he is released from jail. My mom makes minimum wage and is concerned about making the mortgage payment on the house.

    Thanks to everyone who prayed about the sentencing. We know that it could have been much more, and we are grateful that the judge was lenient, and that God moved in this situation.

  27. 27 Crystal said at 7:04 pm on December 9th, 2010:

    Thank you so much for your message and sharing this! My husband and I were talking about your blog tonight (well, I was sharing this post with him). I'm wondering how you deal with those who's situation involves things like drugs. We want to be used by God.. we want to love & give grace.. but we have small children. She's searching for a church, fresh out of rehab, recently divorced, lost her two kids. We're just not sure where to draw the line. We have family with drug problems so we know how things can be. My husband worked at a church 2 years ago where she and her kids attended and we just 'happened' to see her (an hour from that church/community) tonight at my parent's church Christmas program. I'm excited because I believe God is involved in all details. But again, do we invite her into our home? How do we reach out to her?

  28. 28 Pat said at 5:21 am on December 10th, 2010:

    People often wonder at my hesitancy to 'confront sin' in others. They say things like, 'you need to talk more about sin.' With words that make them wish they'd never opened the subject I answer, "Okay, let's start with yours." Now that's another story, isn't it?

    Great post, you put a lot of thought into this.

  29. 29 April said at 12:13 pm on December 10th, 2010:

    Pat, I have felt pressure from friends in church… I had a friend say to me about another friend's sin.. "You need to say something to them. It has to be you because you are the closest one to them…" looking back it disgusts me. What was essentially gossip, and should have never been turned into something very ugly that God is now redeeming.

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