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posted Apr 12, 2012, 8:41 AM by Susannah Francis   [ updated Apr 12, 2012, 8:47 AM ]
By Zachary T. Francis

I get so frustrated in our ministry because people I love don't get it sometimes. Some assume that when we perform productions we are not ministering because the "arts are just fun". When we go to other churches, some people assume at our home church that we are not going to church so they'll say phrases like "missed you on church last Sunday." Sometimes people are genuine. They really did miss us. But there are other times when they're concerned for us because they didn't see us in church and assume we are not serving God elsewhere. And sometimes it's not the kind of people you would expect. Sometimes Godly people, people we respect will not support us, ask about our ministry, think we are not going to church, serving the Lord. Why does this happen? And then....I find myself doing it too.

"What?" you said. You find yourself doing it too? Yes. That's what I said. There was an addict of whose family I interviewed for this film project over the last year. And after interviewing them I made some assumptions about the person. Thought they were hypocritical, that they didn't know God very well...that they had turned their back on God because they had slipped a few times after being "healed". I assumed these things because they were trying to help others even though they still struggled with their addiction. (They were still doing the action they told others not to do) I assumed that they were telling others "Don't do this. I was healed from it" and then went off and did what they just told others not to do. I'm thinking to myself “They shouldn't be talking to others about addiction when they are still struggling with that addiction in secret.” Keep in mind I never talked with the addict, only their family. All the same, I'm assuming they're not telling anyone, that they’re keeping their continued addiction a secret while trying to help others become clean.

But then I started looking at things this person has done. I started reading things this person has written; how they have credited God. I also see how they have admitted multiple times they have slipped, that they’re human, that they need the power of Grace. I was moved by the transparency in this person's conversation. Then God tells me in the Spirit “This is the same thing that Godly people think of you when you are not doing ministry. They are drawing conclusions based on limited information.” This is why it says in Matthew 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged". God is the ultimate judge because only HE knows everything that is going on. Only HE knows the heart!

I was reading a book of addiction that really challenged my thinking. There is an addiction counselor in this book that destroyed his practice because he went back to Heroin. I think “He should never be an addiction counselor again.” But in this book, he is a counselor again. And I think “That's silly! Why would they ever make someone a counselor again that destroyed his practice because he fell off the wagon!”…forget the fact that many have gotten off of drugs due to his counseling.

And here's the kicker. I believe this is why it also says in James 3, "the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark". When we think something, we need to be very careful what we say. Have you ever gone to someone and said, "We need to pray about this" and then reveal what needs prayer? Why do we need to reveal it? Can't that be gossip? Or slander? What if were wrong with what we say? Scripture says that "fires" can start from the tongue 'giving a small spark'. Can our unknowingly judgmental heart start a fire if we reveal what we are praying about? Sure. And why? Because we don't know the whole story, and we could be judging that situation. Does it need prayer? Absolutely if it's on your heart! But what if what's on our heart is also tainted with judgment. It is said that one sign of forgiveness is not telling other people how a person wronged us. And why? Because it hurts that other person...makes them look bad...and many times we intend for it to make that person look bad. We're trying to say "Isn't that person awful because they did that! And I'm the better person right?!" But none of us are better. We have ALL fallen short of the glory of God. All of us have gone astray. There is no one who is righteous. Not one!

When you can't understand why people accuse you of things when you are doing ministry and people think you are avoiding God, try to look at your own heart. Check your own motives. You can't control them, but you can control yourself. It says further on in Matthew 7 this:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 

We can't control what others think of us, but WE CAN control how we think of others. When we hear stories, be careful what we receive. Listen...but be cautious not to draw conclusions. If someone is addicted to drugs and robs a house, be careful not to think of them as a bad person. When someone cuts themselves repeatedly after treatment, be careful not to believe they haven't changed at all. When someone slips and looks at pornography after having a sex addiction for years, be careful not to call them a hypocrite when you see them trying to help others get out of sex addiction. Like someone I listened to said today: We're human and were all fallible. All we need to do is love. And love is patient, kind, it does not envy or boast. It is not proud or rude. And most importantly IT KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. It always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I am going to try to look at people with the glass half full this week, not half empty. And see what they can be, not what they are!