By Alma Gill
A Christian with a Short Memory
I have a friend who is the ultimate Christian. Since she’s been “saved,” she has been more judgmental of others, as if she doesn’t have a past. Back in the day, she was the one who experimented with drugs, clubs, partying, etc. Now she looks down on others who may be going through the same thing. At times, I hate talking with her. How can I make her see that what she’s doing is no different than what those she is complaining about are doing?
Dear Friend from Annapolis,
Your question is an interesting one, not because it’s the first time I’ve heard of this happening, but it’s the first time I’ve addressed this topic.
My advice column is open and accepting. I can relate to and will discuss anything — love, hate, sex, work, family, you name it. Religion, however, is one subject that I try to shy away from. My father was a minister for almost 40 years, so I see this question as somewhat of a test. LOL. I’ve prayed and pondered my response, taking into consideration that believers and nonbelievers both read my weekly column.
I found myself gravitating to a book my friend Nia loaned me, a book titled Grace Happens Here by Max Lucado. His book details how God’s grace is not purchased or earned by faith acts or good works. Believing in God doesn’t require that we live our lives without making mistakes or wrong decisions. It doesn’t mean we never think, speak or react negatively or inappropriately. Believing in God means that one has accepted Him as savior, our many faults notwithstanding. It means accepting His “grace.”
Grace is one of God’s greatest offers and ideas. When we are demonstrating the worst of ourselves, God — with our permission — begins to turn us around. In this transformation, some folks find it necessary to point out every flaw, negative behavior or bad habit in others. I often wonder why, as humans, we find it easier to correct others than to make corrections within ourselves. But that’s another story for another time.
There’s nothing you can say to your friend right now. She has recently been saved, and so are you, so “save” your “oh-no-you-didn’t” comments for another time. Fold and put them away in your “help-me-Lord” drawer.
In these early stages of salvation, since your friend is listening only to God, I’d suggest you pray to Him. Pray that God will help her consume the peace and grace that she will read about in her Bible. The scriptures that say we should be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God forgives us.
Be the example and offer her the grace that you seek. I have read and believe that we will never be asked to offer anyone more than what God has already poured deep down inside of us. Here’s a reminder of something much easier preached, then lived: When in doubt, discouraged, overwhelmed or simply pissed off, seek first not to offend or correct –but – to be a blessing.
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.