Last night at home group (well, it wasn't in a home, it was in the Forum amusement complex where we have been meeting lately as suitable homes are scarce to come by right now), I read from Matthew 23 about the Pharisees who loaded down the followers of God with bundles of rules. Yep, I can see those patterns in myself as well. Coming from a tradition that tends towards legalism, I still struggle with demanding consistent commitment to certain activities as evidence of a godly life. It really puts everything backwards, you know.
I see someone who appears to struggle with consistency in their life and start to get annoyed and want to tell them to get their act together, when in fact, I don't know the whole story. When I did take the time to ask God for his perspective on things in one instance, I saw someone trying to escape patterns and roadblocks that, for whatever reason, have taken up residence in their life. Instead of demanding more faithfulness and adding to their burden, God gave me the grace to catch a glimpse of a heart not quite sure how to cry out for help to untangle the web of self-protection that is proving to make the pursuit of freedom and intimacy difficult.
Despite my pharisaical tendencies some days, that time I offered open arms and a heartfelt prayer for God's touch instead of a curt rebuke. Love is always the best motivator, not higher standards.