As humans our superpowers are limited. We define persons by their outward appearances and actions. We can never be privy to the deep intent of a person’s heart, even if they told us. We assume love, affection, kindness, holiness based on what we see, while God accesses people by the intent of the heart.
We like persons based on their beauty, oration, warmth, and so on and are shocked when we find out the outwardness does not match the inwardness. We latch on easily to persons that smile at us, believing that it ultimately translates to good intentions. We form bonds based on the outwardness.
A strategy of con-persons is warmth, they approach with warmth and an outwardness that suggests good intentions, but “they were so nice and friendly” shocks and hurts us when we learn their intent.
I am inspired to write this post due to a critique I saw on Facebook about the way women dress. It said women who wore dresses above the knee were promiscuous. I found that weird, a weird task of a pastor to judge the morality of girls and women based on the length of their clothes, because the gospel is not about keeping up “holy looking” appearances before people.
I think as preachers or pastors, we veer off the message of the cross when we concentrate on telling persons to work on their outward self. There is an elevation of the ability of self to perform righteously, and an advancement in the contribution of works to salvation. If all women did wear dresses to their toes, will that ultimately make the body of Christ a righteous one?
Have we been commissioned on this journey of criticism by the Holy Spirit? I believe that when God changes us, He does this on the inward and it reflects on the outward. Unless God reveals the intent of one’s heart you cannot judge them by what you see. As a human, you are limited.
God calls us all, regardless of what we look like on the outside because He is confident of His power to renew the mind and heart. He is confident He will make us into what He has envisioned us to be. Our righteousness cannot be earned, the Spirit of God through our obedience makes this righteousness evident before people.
As I undergo this process of submission to the Spirit, I realise how patient the Holy Spirit is. How even when we stumble the Holy Spirit does not give up on us or call us names or accuse us of ruining the body of Christ.
My dear friend, as humans, we are limited by what we see and cannot judge one’s relationship with God based on their clothes or earrings. Perhaps the person you are calling out is in a stage of struggle with God, perhaps they are finding their purpose and being positioned by God, you cannot understand their position by accessing outwardly, and even then, what business is it to question how God works on someone especially when you have never prayed for them. The moment you earnestly pray for spiritual growth for someone you stop critiquing their actions because your assurance is in the power of the Spirit of God.
In criticising others, we often fail to talk about our discomfort (weaknesses) and position ourselves as epitomes of perfection. It is uncomfortable, especially with a mind that runs without restrictions to have to look at persons “inappropriately” dressed. I remember being uncomfortable watching a sermon where the pastor was in very tight skinny trousers and a t-shirt showing his bulging biceps. It is easy to let the mind start to imagine all sorts of things and uncomfortable because that is not what I signed up for. Until I was able to get past my discomfort, position myself for benefit regardless of an outward appearance I limited myself from receiving this message which helped me at that moment with something I was struggling with. At this stage of maturity, I tell myself I will never allow someone’s outward appearance to limit me from receiving from God. Can I confront my discomforts, not drown my inability in blame and allow the Spirit of God to move as I confront my weaknesses, and show me His glory?
Look, we look “prim and proper” by society’s standard by grace, so please let us remember to extend this same mercy we received to others who to us are not “prim and proper”. Let us be kind to girls and women, regardless of how they dress up because they are as important to the body of Christ. All parts are important. The essence of a finger is neglected until it goes missing. Let us remember we need to approach this issue from a place of love and kindness. As you can see this method of harsh reproach has not worked and is not working. If I am wearing indecent clothing, openly shaming me on social media does nothing to increase my love for God. I will feel hurt and wonder if God loves me too especially if it is a leader of the church doing this. This social media courtroom may lead people to lose their faith in God. If it is not leading them to God, it is leading them away. Are you building the church or destroying it? Let us commit to the harder work of the inner transformation, committing to guide as siblings in love under the guidance of the Spirit of God.
God will use who He wills for what He wants, your opinion will not matter!
Nothing is impossible for God to do.
Our confidence in the Spirit of God to move mountains will be seen in how we address these issues.
Peace be unto us all.