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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “A Royal Problem”

This episode was a fan favorite for a multitude of reasons, but what I think stuck out the most to me was it served as an opportunity to get into the characters of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna by having them in a conflict with one another. Both of them felt the the other wasn’t appreciating them enough for what they did every day although both had important, and demanding, jobs. Yet a key part of why they failed to appreciate each other was that either one felt the other had the “easy” job. That, as it turned out, was a rather bold claim for either one to make as they rarely were awake and alert for the other one’s job and really didn’t understand just how much the other one’s tasks entailed. That was fixed when Starlight Glimmer switched their Cutie Marks, letting them both “walk a mile in the other’s horseshoes”, and both realized just how much they carried out and appreciated each other much better for it.

One of the greatest criticisms that secular individuals have of Christianity is that they are very judgmental–that they feel they’re “better” than everyone else. I don’t think many Christians realize it’s not that hard for them to give that perception. We have the Bible, which we believe holds the answers to life’s greatest questions and the secrets to eternal life and knowing the nature and will of God, our Heavenly Father. And that can lead some Christians to get the sensation of already “knowing people” and circumstances without ever experiencing and interacting with them, and as a result they are in a secure spot to condemn and judge others without knowing them. The bad part about coming to the point where you feel confident to definitely declare all things good or evil is it leads to the sin of pride; placing yourself as the ultimate moral authority rather than God. It’s very easy to forget that we are still in the flesh and flawed by our own weaknesses and our own perceptions. Even if we feel we know enough to declare someone we see good or evil, we forget that we ourselves don’t see the world as it is to begin with but rather as we are. While there are definitely many issues I feel Christians can safely declare good or evil, and should, there are also some that they feel entitled to condemn simply from their own standpoint.

Case in point: I know a few people, and I suspect there are many more, who proudly profess their Christianity and boldly speak the Word. The problem is many of these people also profess other things; like how people on one side of a political discourse are always liars, lazy, fools, etc., or how in an issue of whether a crime was motivated by external factors such as race, gender, or religion they tend to always favor one race, gender, or religion over another. These, of course, are things of a more global or societal view. Yet judging people in their everyday lives comes even easier for other Christians. They talk about how that one co-worker never does their job, or how that family member they won’t talk to thinks she’s so much better than everyone, or that this person’s child will grow up to be a delinquent because he doesn’t act like everyone else, or second guess that person’s motives all the time because he voted for one candidate and not another.

It may seem unfair to pick on Christians alone for doing this as everyone it guilty of it, but seeing as to be Christian is to realistically be held to a greater standard than the rest of the world, and we profess once a week that we will follow Jesus and be the light of the world (if not more than that), I feel it’s a fair critique.

The truth of the matter is who we truly are is between us and God. We might not be able to overlook sin regardless of motive behind it, as “sin is sin”, but we should never assume we “know” a person just because of a circumstance we find them in…especially if we know little to nothing about that person to begin with. People don’t often choose where they want to be in life and never choose their background. (Just as an example, I knew a person back in my old campus ministry before who was perfectly well-adjusted, pleasant, and you would think had a “normal” quiet upbringing. She confessed in her testimony that her birth mother attempted to murder her when she was a teen and the reason she’s alive is God kept her mother from finding the bullets for the gun.) And even if they are in a situation by choice, it doesn’t mean they’re not working to get out of it; as many people who are recovering from addiction or have gotten out of prison try to do. Likewise, rarely does someone do something to be “mean” or because they know what they’re doing is wrong. There’s reasons behind things everyone does. Some of them might be misplaced, some of them might be bad, and some might be ones we’d find ourselves making in the same situation.

Never forget Job. (There are a lot of lessons to be learned in that book simply besides why good people suffer.) If even the most righteous man alive could find himself relentlessly and mercilessly being falsely accused of evil by his own friends, a man who not only prayed and fasted but had clear evidence of his own good works that everyone knew, then how much more will we be prone to judge people who don’t meet our own standards? (Likewise, don’t forget that God found those same friends guilty of sin who thought they were defending God all along.) (Job 42:7-9)

The point being–we can judge actions and make responses to those, and there is something to be said about how must trust to give someone, but, as the two sisters did, we are never in a position to evaluate someone as being “better” or “worse” than us. The Bible has many examples of people who judged too much by first appearances only to find they should have looked deeper. The Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 5:1-2), Goliath (1 Samuel 17:43-44), Samuel (1 Samuel 16:6-7), and, of course, the religious and political contemporaries of Jesus’ own day come to mind (John 1:10).

As David so eloquently put it in Psalm 139 (1-18), God alone knows the truth:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

 

My advice for this devotional is next time you find yourself growing antagonistic toward someone, whether it be an individual or a group, and you find yourself starting to “put motives into their heads” without having much to back it up rather than your own fears and suspicions, try to pause and think a bit more about it first. You’ll find people are more like you than you realize.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, I praise you for, as your servant David said, you alone know who I am and see inside me at all times. You alone know and understand the hearts of everyone. Please forgive me for all the times I felt in a position to judge the worth of anyone as a person, especially when those times led me to withhold good or hand out evil to anyone unjustly. In all ways with all people, grant me eyes to see the world as you do, to feel for people as you do, and to respond as you would. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”