“supposing to add affliction to my bonds”
Have you ever added affliction to those who are already afflicted? Now think carefully before you answer that question. I think all of us would just love to say “No, I would never do something like that”, but when we really look hard at our actions or thoughts, we find that we too are guilty.
Let’s look at some ways we can add affliction to those in affliction.
- Telling them that if they just have faith, God will see them through. So, do we think they have no faith? Or that their faith is lacking? This is one of our enemy’s top weapons – for us to see others with little or no faith. How do we know how much faith a person has? Only God knows the answer to that question. We, including me, tend to judge by what we see and hear, but God judges by their heart. It is our job to encourage then!
- Gossiping behind their back, speculating what might be wrong. This is wrong on every level. God hates gossip (Prov 6:19). He calls it backbiting, or corrupt communication, or sowing discord among the brethren. Whatever you call it, it’s wrong. To sit around, or whisper in church or in the market, or to get on the phone and speculate – it’s all wrong. Let’s rid ourselves of this evil and walk away from it when it comes our way.
- Being judgmental of someone’s appearance or social standing. Oh, have I been guilty of this one! I hate to admit it, but it’s true. I see someone walk into your church in scraggly clothes with missing teeth and unkempt hair, and I think to myself what kind of faith can they really have?
I have done this in business as well. I remember one particular business where the owner was a farmer. It was a farm implement dealer way out on a gravel road, and they had a very good business. I saw him one day in his coveralls, dirty and disheveled, and made a judgment on his business capabilities. Thought I had an easy sale. But when I started talking to him, I realized I was in way over my head. This guy had a keener sense of business than anyone I had ever met, suitcoat or not. I gained a new appreciation for farmers that day!
The truth is, we judge by what we see and what we hear, but God judges the heart (I Samuel 16:7). It’s time we learn to accept everyone and try to help them grown in Christ. Hat is our purpose!
Lord, help me to see people’s hearts as you do. Help me to have compassion on everyone, and never judge by what I see or hear. There is a reason they are where they are, and only you can help me understand that and teach me how to minister to them right where they are today. Make me humble enough to put myself in their shoes, walk where they walk, and speak to them as you would have me speak. I am your, Lord!