Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
Twice during church services, the pressure of hypocrisy jolted me into tears to the point I could barely stand. Each time, a false interpretation of my role had been translated into unloving attitudes and behaviors, including self-righteousness.
The hypocrisy was mine.
One public sobbing was at least twenty years ago. A pastor stood and said, “I do not know why I am reading this, but sense the Holy Spirit is leading me to do so.” With that, he read part of Revelations (2:4) where God chastises a church for losing its “first love.”
It was as if someone struck my legs. I folded to the bench and wept. The service continued.
In that moment as the pastor read, truth clicked. I was like that church! Jesus is the first love of all who claim him as Savior. He said we show our love for him by obeying his commands. (John 14:15) His command is to love each other as he has loved us! (John 13:34)
Before ten years passed, my prayers were again embittered. Mentally condemning anyone judged less righteous than me, I mumbled, “Thank you God that I am not like her.”
It is fair to say, that moment is one of my most shameful memories and a great regret.
You see, Jesus used a story to illustrate prideful hypocrisy. While one man asked God to forgive him of his many sins, a religious elitist stood nearby and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people …or even like him!”
Ouch. As three fingers pointed back at me, I cried in sorrow.
God always meets us where we are. If outwardly we act tough and inwardly die, he sees. If our faces smile and laugh while our stomachs seethe in anger, he knows. If past trauma or any other source of fear feeds a self-protective attitude of hypocrisy, he is not blindsided. If his people are willing to listen, he will speak and teach us to love.
Today’s Helpful Word
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee , and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.
Pics: glass window by DRAGONARIAES of rgbstock.com; Pharisee by freebibleimages.org