“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1).
Do you get exasperated with yourself when you blow it? Do you wish you could relax expectations and lower the bar?
This week, I’ve been sick with nasty upper respiratory symptoms, like coughing, shortness of breath, and I even lost my voice. Right away I thought, “Ok, where did I go wrong? Did I exercise enough? Did I exercise too much? Am I eating healthy?” I questioned just about every move I made.
Maybe, like me, you have days when you get “summoned” into the courtroom for an arraignment. An arraignment is a criminal proceeding at which the defendant is officially called before a court of competent jurisdiction, informed of the offense charged in the complaint, information, indictment, or other charging document, and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or as otherwise permitted by law. (freedictionary.com)
What’s our mindset when we criticize ourselves? In effect, we put ourselves in charge, ignoring the man at the bench. We charge ourselves with an accusation, and ask ourselves for a plea.
When I do that, I say to myself, “Aargh! Are you bringing charges, defending yourself, or making a call on the verdict?” If I’m honest with myself, I’m taking all three roles!
When we judge ourselves, we accept accusation from the father of lies. In effect, we shrug off this promise that we’ve been set free:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1–2).
James, Jesus’ brother, grew up to question our motives:“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). Who are we to judge our neighbors? Who are we to judge ourselves? God alone is Judge of all the earth. In His legal courtroom, He weighs the evidence and reaches a decision.
2016 years ago, a powerful Lawyer was born in a manger. This Attorney would grow up to intercede for us at the right hand of the Father.
As Mary held little Baby Jesus in her arms, I wonder if she marveled softly, “I know something You don’t know—yet. You are the chosen Messiah. Son, the blood that courses through your little veins on this night is the same blood that will cover the sins of the nations. Here is the freedom we have been seeking!”
Today I pray that you and I let go of our faults, failures, misfires, and shortcomings and drop to our knees beside the tiny Advocate in the manger. Here we can celebrate beside the donkeys and oxen an easy yoke and a light burden—the easy yoke of an irreversible act of forgiveness, and light burden of Christ-shouldered guilt, shame, self-directed resentment, fear, and doubt.
The best gift we can give God? To simply accept His.
When we scuffle with injustice for ourselves and others, and especially when we are unfairly judging ourselves, I pray that we remember deep in our hearts the day that Jesus was born—and His justice-light for the nations.
Do you ever judge yourself? If so, what do you say to yourself to reframe your thoughts?