By: Keith Sampson
I’m assuming many of you grew up knowing there were “things that you just don’t do”—things that, depending on your upbringing, would change the way people look at you. Because of (fill-in-the-blank) you are viewed differently; you are judged.
Ah, there it is: “judgment.” The word can bring so much unnecessary pain, drama, or excuses, depending on your side of the fence. Today I want to share how I dealt with one of the “scarlet letter” issues that faces many people who follow Jesus: divorce.
If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I am divorced. That experience pushed me into complete dependence on God and a renewed image of myself. It was hard enough going through it, but then it dawned on me that I was now divorced, one of those things that (growing up) “just shouldn’t happen.”
How do I answer all of the questions? What about people who don’t know the situation? Those who would immediately judge me? Those who would see a “scarlet letter” on my forehead?
Here are a few of my thoughts on that…(please filter this with the understanding that divorce is never God’s desire; I know that):
- I had to take a hard look at what marriage is, even between two Christians. I saw that it’s a union of two imperfect people, two sinners. It only takes one to break that union. I decided not to let choices made by someone else define me.
- Judgment from others is man-made. Jesus would not judge me in that way; He knew the condition of my heart. I only had to answer to Him, and I knew what was going on when I looked at myself in the mirror. I didn’t see a scarlet letter on my forehead.
- God is bigger than any situation that we face. While it may not have been His desire, He can certainly work through it. He sure did!
All of us are imperfect. All of us have been in bad situations by our own choices and by those of others. The hope that Jesus brings into our lives is bigger than all of that, from the worst form of judgment by others to actions of our own making. While Jesus hung on the cross next to two criminals, one had faith in that hope. While he hung, judged for his own actions, he had hope in Christ and found peace in the face of death.
We are encouraged to show Jesus to others—keep this in mind as you meet people from all kinds of backgrounds. They have their own stories, choices, and moments. All need the love that we can show. Jesus’ love never sees a scarlet letter.