DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER!

SDC10666God taught me a major lesson last week about how easily we judge things and people by their outside appearances.  I had just climbed off a plane in Birmingham, England and was waiting, along with a 100 other people, for my luggage to appear on the carousel belt.  I was on the opposite side of the carousel from where the luggage first appeared. The 4th item of luggage to appear was a big black suitcase that was ripped at the sides and held together by ugly brown sticky masking tape.  As I watched its progress along the carousel the following thoughts were going through my mind:
“I wonder how someone who can’t even afford a decent suitcase can afford to fly?”“I would be so embarrassed to acknowledge that as my suitcase!”
“I wonder how the person who owns that suitcase is dressed?”

As it drew closer to me I saw that it had exactly the same stickers that I had on my suitcase and then I saw my name on the identity tag and purely out of instinct I reached out and lifted it off the carousel belt.  To compound my embarrassment I didn’t even have a trolley so I couldn’t put the suitcase on a trolley and cover it with my hand luggage!  I had to pull this broken, wonky suitcase that was held together by ugly brown tape all the way through the airport.
In Matthew there are two very challenging verses “Do not judge or you too will be judged.  For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”1John 7:24 says “Stop judging by outside appearances…”2
My suitcase was filled with beautifully wrapped presents, decent clothes and chocolates.
Judging by the appearance of my suitcase you would have thought it was filled with rags.

Often things happen that are beyond our control – I had put a big, black suitcase in good condition onto the airplane in South Africa and had received a damaged and torn suitcase, covered in tape in England.  Somewhere in transit the suitcase was badly damaged and yet the contents were unharmed and, thank God, nothing was stolen.
The friends I was visiting have a son whose body is covered in tattoos and he has various piercings on his face and body.  Judging by his appearance you would think he was a delinquent who took drugs and was on the dole because he had never completed his education.  In fact the truth is that he has never taken drugs, has a steady job and earns a good income and is one of the kindest, politest and honest people that I have ever met.  I love him dearly and yet if I didn’t know him and saw him walking towards me on the street I would cross over to the other side…………..!  Thanks Matt for allowing me to use you as a good example of the old adage ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’.

Matthew 7:1 & 2, NIV Bible
NIV Bible

FEELING LIKE A FRAUD!

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There are times when I feel like an absolute fraud as a Christian.  In the dictionary a Christian is defined as “a person who believes in and follows Jesus Christ” and someone who “possesses Christian virtues”.
Virtues are the same as the fruits of the Spirit spoken about in the Bible – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.1
I just have to get behind the wheel of a car and all of the above mentioned virtues disappear from my life.  When I am waiting to turn at a traffic light and the oncoming vehicles just keep on coming even though the traffic lights have turned red or when I have spent 5 minutes waiting in a queue to turn right and a taxi driver just whizzes up besides me and cuts in, I find myself giving into feelings of extreme road rage!  In fact, on one or two occasions, I have forgotten that I have a passenger with me in the car until my 12 year old, sitting on the back seat says in a very shocked voice “Mommy, you are not allowed to use words like that!”

I am very thankful that my children and husband are seldom in the audience when I am speaking or giving my testimony.  When one speaks in front of a Christian audience you are always so aware of wanting to make a good impression so I can just imagine one of my children sitting there listening to me and saying to themselves “Who is my mom trying to kid!  I live with her. I saw her lose her temper just this morning when she tripped over the shoe I left in the middle of the doorway. She certainly didn’t show any self-control then!”
I identify so much with the following quote:
When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are all too visible
But God believes I’m worth it2
In Ephesians it says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast”.3Grace is an unmerited gift, the condition of being favoured and sanctified by God.

When I feel like a fraud as a Christian I go back to the foot of the cross and seek forgiveness for my lack of self-control, my anger or jealousy and then I rest peacefully in the knowledge “that everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name”.4

All definitions given are from the collinsdictionary.com1Galations 5:22, Holy Bible, NIV
2http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/193313-when-i-say-i-am-a-christian-i-m-not-shouting
3Ephesians 2:8 & 9, Holy Bible, NIV
4Acts 10:43, Holy Bible, NIV