Age of Victim: 2.5 years
Age of Accused at time of incident: 39
Time: 9:40 PM
Location: Food Lion, Davidson, North Carolina
At the time of the offense the accused was clothed in:
khaki shorts, black top, flip-flops
The victim was clothed in: …. A diaper
The first set of eyes on us were incredulous. “How come your baby isn’t home in bed? And WHERE are her clothes?”
The second set of eyes rolled in the woman’s head so hard she could have knocked out a strike in 10-pin-bowling. “White trash!”
The third set looked sad and compassionate… “Poor things…”
The fourth set looked bewildered: “What is that all about?”
I strolled along with a laughing, gibbering Gracie in the grocery cart. I picked up some milk, some ice cream for the fun of it, and headed to the check-out. I couldn’t help but notice all the looks. I have to admit, I was a little trepidatious about lugging her into the store with nothing but a diaper on, but we needed milk and we had no other clothes… So in we went.
As we strolled along the aisles I made a realization. If this had been a few years ago I would have been “talking” to Grace the entire time, loud enough for everyone to hear, so that people would understand why I had my child out at 9:30 PM without any clothes on… so people would know— I’m not really White Trash. My baby has clothes. I make very good money. I have a Master’s Degree in History. I am a good mom… I got one little urge to justify my situation after a few of the looks, but I didn’t entertain it. I pushed on. At the simultaneous moment I suppressed my urge to self-justify, so that I would look “ok” in the eyes of the people around me, I noticed another little beast I had to smack down… my own “haughty eyes” tempted to judge the judgers for being so judgmental. In the end I was chuckling at it all… and Thanking God for His great mercy.
And this is the predicament we are in. Every day the moment our feet hit the floor we get sucked into the “courtroom.” We expend our energy trying to justify ourselves, trying to gather evidence to prove to others looking at us that we are “ok.” We use others to compare ourselves against… puffing ourselves up when we can say: “At least I’m not like THAT.” OR beating ourselves up because we have to admit: “I could never be like that.” We are forever before the seat of judgment— being judged by others, judging others, judging ourselves. The famous play write Arthur Miller referred to it as: “The endless litigation.” And with the pound of every gavel, we are left depleted… small… robbed of our joy.
Why do we do it? Why do we constantly have to prove to ourselves and others that we are “ok”? Why do we have to place our identity in everything we do thinking that is where our worth comes from? I know for myself, being a “Type-A” sort, my brain is almost hard-wired to run on the equation: “Doing good = a “good grade” = you are a good girl!” And everywhere I go I am being “graded.” If I follow the rules, if I do good works, if I obey the law, if I get approval and praise… then I am “ok.”
We act like somehow we can buy our way to God through our performance. Matthew Henry says: “as if all that gained applause with men must obtain acceptance with God.” but God tells us through Paul: “By observing the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16b) It really doesn’t matter how good you are… or aren’t.
Do you know… we don’t have to get sucked into the courtroom anymore? In Jesus’ own words he said: You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued by men is detestable by God. (Luke 16:15)
We are in the endless battle of puffing ourselves up or beating ourselves up. And in the midst of it we forget God. We ignore the abundance of His Grace. Paul said: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21) We return every day to our “default” mode. We forget the verdict is in. We do not have to suffer the endless litigation! Every time we submit to the courtroom rather than to the extravagant love of Christ we are saying Christ died in vain. We ignore the truth! We set aside God’s grace thinking we can prove ourselves. The truth is that God sent his son to live the life we should have lived, to take the judgment we should have had, and die the death we should have died. And because of that we don’t have to set foot in the court room anymore!
My good friend Philip recently gave me a quote from C.S. Lewis:
“Comparison is the thief of Joy.”
By what standard do you stand arguing your case before the court? Step out of the courtroom, friend, for your joy is being stolen away from you! The Joy of the Lord is your strength! Lean on His Joy to give you the strength to walk out of the courtroom. You are clothed in Christ and that is all the Lord sees.
When the demon of judgment starts to rear its head, whether you are feeling judged or catching yourself being the judge— stop yourself and be like Paul who said:
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any other human court; indeed I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
(1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
Do not be mistaken. Paul was not being cavalier, nor was he preaching the thunderous wrath of God’s judgment. What Paul was saying is this: It does not matter what you think of others. It does not matter what others think of you. It does not matter what you think of you. It matters only what God has DONE for you. Only He judges you, and as judge, jury and executioner he has sent his son to take that judgment, face that jury and endure that execution. And you are saved. Celebrate your Joy! The verdict is in…
Age of the Accused: 39
Offense: White trash, child neglect, poor parenting, personal self-righteousness
At the time of the offense the accused was clothed in: Christ
Verdict: Not guilty.
Ladies and gentlemen… Court is adjourned!
If you liked this Life with Grace I highly recommend the sermon “Haughty Eyes” by Timothy Keller. The link below will take you to where it can be purchased in mp3 or CD
Timothy Keller, Proverbs: True Wisdom for Living: Haughty Eyes, November 14, 2004, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NY, NY.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible; John Chapter 9
The Bible/ NIV Translation