Thou Shalt Not … Condemn Thyself

You confessed your sin, asked for forgiveness, and have made a determined effort to do better. So why does that niggling shame refuse to lift? Today author Candi Pullen shares her personal experience with perfectionism and self-condemnation and how Jesus freed her from this ugly cycle. But before you go any further, I want to congratulate the winner of Shannon’s novel, Rodeo Regrets. Audry Mclaughlin, congrats! You won! I’ll be sending you an email soon to find the best way to get this great book to you. 🙂

Judge Not by Candi Pullen
Matthew 7:1-6
Verse 1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” 
    I am my own harshest judge.  For years I was so hard on myself I even entertained the thought that I wasn’t truly saved.  I knew better.  I knew that I loved Jesus from early childhood, and often thought I may have been saved at Vacation Bible School or in my mother’s Sunday School class and was simply too young at the time to remember.  But I had no doubts whatsoever that I had prayed with intense purpose to rededicate or be saved (whichever) when I sat in Mary’s living room and repeated the sinner’s prayer of repentance and reception at 7:00 PM, Thursday, November 29, 1973.  I am precise, because I was not content with anything less than “I know that I know that I know.”  Oh! Did I not mention I was a bona fide, in-your-face perfectionist until Jesus got hold of me and cured me of that disease?
Verse 2: “For with what judgment you judge you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
    Being my own judge, jury, and executioner gave me little peace,  even less joy, and an unquenchable love hunger.  I beat myself up continually until I had no sense of worth, or esteem.  I lived-strike that-existed in an almost vacuum state, devoid of any meeting of the most basic of emotional needs. My only saving grace was a women’s weekly Bible study held in the home of one of my few friends who loved me in spite of myself.  Nancy was our hostess and the Mary who prayed with me to receive Christ was our teacher.  Slowly, over weeks and months, as drop-by-drop Jesus’ blood became my own, I began to believe there was a hope for me to be changed from the inside out, and even I could become a new creation in Christ.
Verses 3 & 4: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”
    I was so blinded by the plank in my self-view I could not see any Jesus in me.  Yet the nurture nature of our Lord was so full in the women attending our weekly studies that each individual seemed determined to love me in spite of myself.  I was so desperate to BE what I wanted to be but could not see beyond the me I thought I was, that I conducted myself like a know-it-all-I’m-in-charge wannabe.  I don’t know how they tolerated me.  It had to be the Lord; for I pushed every button, had every answer, knew everything, until I sickened even myself at times.  Yet their love was steadfast, sturdy, and streamlined to meet my needs.  God Bless them, every one!  Saints to the core.
Verse 5: “Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” 
    Indeed.  There is a need in each of us to be loved and accepted.  When I believed I was unlovable I
tried all the harder to be loveable.  All I accomplished was more alienation – because it was born of
necessity and not in sincerity.  The time had come.  I had come as far as possible in my own strength,
and the time for breaking strongholds was upon me.
    Please understand, God did not make things happen.  He simply saw them coming and chose to
allow them, and use them, rather than stop them.  The understanding I have in hindsight is like watching a glass blower work his craft.  The glass is heated to the point of melting away all the hardness of the glass, incorporating all the little broken shards into the mass at the end of his hollow tube.  Then he breathes the new structure of the desired vessel, and turns it to maintain balance of the reshaped new vessel he has predetermined it to be.  A vessel of beauty and purpose comes out of the ashes of the fire.
    My breaking was the death of my first husband, a second marriage that was entered into by virtue of my own broken self-image to a man who abused me in ways I will not share or describe; the sin of a divorce that was covered by the magnificence of God’s matchless grace and mercy, and His infinite love for this wayward child.
Verse 6: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you in pieces.”
      I have often read this passage of Scriptures and wondered why verse 6 was included under judging. But having just written about my second marriage and the dissolution by divorce, even that makes more sense.
A large portion of the healing that has taken place in me, especially when it comes self-acceptance
and forgiveness of both myself and my ex-husband, is the understanding of who we are in Christ.  If I am to see myself and others clearly, I must look at everyone through Jesus’ eyes – not my own.  Verse 6 holds the Truth with a capital “T”.
In Christ we are holy.  Yes, I am holy, for Christ in me IS my holiness.  I do not deserve it.  I do not
deserve Him.  No one does.  But He comes with the Truth.  I may not deserve Him, but He died to give me that right.  How could I refuse such a magnificent gesture of undeserved favor?
Christ is my Pearl of Great Price.  And I no longer despise myself, for He has opened my eyes to His Truth; “I am accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)  I would make Him a liar if I did not receive this verse and apply it as my own.  He paid the highest price possible to make it so.  His life for mine.
Hardly a fair exchange, but His will, nevertheless.
    And where am I today?  Safe in the loving arms of my precious redeemer and free from the demons of my past.  It is really quite simple, and no longer an issue. You see…
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me
and gave Himself for me.”Galatians 2:20 NKJVAbout Candi Pullen:

As an “Air Force brat” and having spent nine years as a navy wife, Candi Pullen has lived more places than she can name, including Morocco and Lybia.
Raised a Roman Catholic, she doesn’t remember a time when God wasn’t a major part of her life, but a weakening in her first marriage caused her to question if there wasn’t more, and on Thursday, Nov. 29, 1973, at 7 pmshe gave her life to Christ.  She has eagerly served him since.  After the death of her first husband and the death of their daughter, Andrea, nine years later, she felt that God was calling her to use that pain to minister to others who needed God’s healing comfort.  In 2007 she earned her Bachelor of Theology degree.  She now teaches discipleship classes, mentors new believers and those wishing to find all the Lord has for them, and writes a daily devotional on Facebook, “Good Morning, Papa!”  She lives in New Port Richey, FL, with Drew, her husband of 18 years.NotGuiltyFrontCover3x4-5-199x300Book Promo:

Not Guilty by Teresa Pollard and Candi Pullen.  February 2013.
It’s 1974 and Carrie Shepherd, daughter of the minister at Windspree Community Church, is a college senior with plans to be a missionary in Africa.  Raped by a masked assailant, Carrie is so traumatized she tells no one until she realizes she’s pregnant.  Refusing to have an abortion, she must find the courage to face her family, her fiance, her friends and a gossiping, angry congregation which may include her attacker.  Can Carrie find a way to cope with the secrets, silence and shame?

Category: Christian / Fiction / Mystery
ISBN 978-1-938708-06-0 (paperback)  Retail $13.99
ISBN 978-1-938708-07-7  (ebook)  Retail $3.99.

It seems we humans often go to one of two extremes. Either we rehash every mistake we’ve made until we feel completely unredeemable or we make excuses for our sins and errors, negating the potential for change and growth. But God longs for us to evaluate ourselves and our sins honestly and in view of grace–a grace that keeps us centered at the foot of the cross. What about you? Do you find yourself going to one or the other extreme, and if so, how can you practice truth and grace? Share your thoughts below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

LivingbyGracepicI’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook atLiving by Grace. 

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