If we dieted the way we "do church" we would be in a sad state of affairs…

I think back to when I was doing weight watchers – a huge part of the program was accountability. It was going to the meetings, often with a friend, because you knew that if someone else were concerned about what you were eating, you would be more concerned as well.

But I can tell you what did not work. It was when I pulled out a slice of cake in the evening, and someone would say “aren’t you on a diet?” Oh – I felt accountable alright. I also felt like I had been beatup. And the enjoyment of the cake was gone – even though I had earned it with losing weight that week. I was either going to eat it, and feel crappy about myself while I did, or I was going to not eat it, and resent them for their “help”. We know how much it hurts to get this sort of exhortation. We also know how good it feels when someone comes along side us and says “wow – I know how much of a struggle this is for you – way to go! Good job on losing those three pounds last week – you look fantastic!”

So, why is it when it comes to matters of sin, and matters of the heart, we resist showing love, and compassion first? We are so very quick to judge, and knock one another down; “Aren’t you on a diet?” I think a large part of it is we are afraid that if we encourage one another, we are condoning the very things we know the other person is trying to correct in their lives. Like, if we tell someone who is only half way to their goal weight that they are looking fantastic, we fear they will think “Yah, I do look good, don’t I? Maybe I don’t need to lose the next 75 pounds.” Those of us though, who have fought weight loss with a friend know that with every “You’re looking good” we are that much more motivated to lose the rest. “Hey, just think how much better I will look when I lose another 10 pounds!”

Oh! That we would get this in our spiritual lives! That we could hug one another and say “I see you struggle sister, but I know it is a battle, and I know you are fighting! You are doing it! I see the Lord working in you, and He is faithful! He will not give you more than you can bear my friend! Let us fight together!” We are wrong to assume we must judge first and love later.

C.S. Lewis nailed the situation and struggle on the head in Screwtape Letters… Screwtape is writing to his nephew, a fellow demon, about how to handle a new convert to Christianity – and part of his advice runs as follows:
“If the patient knows that the woman with the absurd hat is a fanatical bridge-player or the man with squeaky boots a miser and an extortioner – then your task is so much the easier. All you have to do is to keep out of his mind the quesion ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?’ ”

It really is so much easier to judge someone for struggles we know nothing about. But, let us not forget that we all have our own vices… let us not forget that we all value the friend who knows our weakness, accepts us, loves us, but still wants better, best for us. May we all be that sort of friend!

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