To speak love and grace

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We’re rolling along in the car, and I ask her how she would describe her faith to someone. She begins, hesitates slightly and then confesses: she is self-conscious about sharing with me because she is afraid of feeling judged by me.

? ? ?

It turns out that 10 years ago we had a conversation, she and I, in which I told her she would be going to hell.

{gulp}

{awkward silence}

{exhale breath}

“Oh no…” I said.

This is someone who I love deeply and respect greatly. I certainly didn’t mean to say something harsh and judgemental.

How can I express… ?

“Well… I… I’m sorry that I said that…”  I stammer.  I am sorry.  Truly.

{does she really think so? does she know the extent of my sorrow right now even if I cannot put it into words?}

No way to love someone into the Kingdom.  When asked a direct question, I have to tell the truth as I know it, as I see it written in the Word. But the Word is the love letter from the King. So why do I end up speaking words that are not loving, but seem judgmental? And harsh? And cause someone I love to feel hesitant about sharing with me about her relationship with God?

{Lord, how I need your help!}

Then the doubts assail me, those ones about being an example. If I am to be Christ to others, an example of love, what does this situation say about how I love? I think that my words may have shut doors that may have remained ajar with words of love and grace.

Over the past few years I have learned that I am not responsible for judging others… not their thoughts, nor their actions and certainly not where they will spend eternity. I know that job belongs to God, and to God alone. God knows someone’s heart. And I do not.

So speak words tendered with mercy, with grace and with love. To speak anything else might do more damage than you realize.

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