My life the last few weeks has been all about inspections as we prep for our move.
This is nerve-wracking and stressful. We frantically scrub every speck and spot and we pick up every last toy/sock/book/cup/out-of-place thing. Then we turn on the lights, lock the doors and leave.
Then, while we’re away, inspectors come and look for things wrong with our house.
They don’t look for what’s right.
No one comments on an inspection report about how well we took care of this or how well we cleaned that or how nicely the light shows off the new floor or how they love my furniture layout.
They are looking to pick and complain and find the negative. Then, as if writing it all down wasn’t enough, they take pictures and draw gigantic arrows to show off the imperfections (just in case you missed them).
When all that’s done, they send the inspection report to others so everyone now sees everything that is wrong.
I have spent most of my life trying to fix or at least cover over personal flaws so they are as unnoticeable to others as possible.
That’s because I have this intense sensitivity to criticism. When the phone rings or when the email comes through, my first reaction is to make sure no one is mad at me or disappointed in me.
So, maybe this brokenness within makes me more sensitive to this whole inspection process.
The flaw finding.
The flaw magnifying.
The flaw broadcasting.
Maybe you’ve felt the hefty weight of criticism thrown your way recently? Maybe it feels like another has set herself against you.
So often, these relational breakdowns are caused by a colliding of misunderstandings. Motives are misinterpreted. Words taken the wrong way.
Or maybe we really messed up. Sure, we made a mistake. We do that sometimes. Honestly, maybe we even do that often. And we’re sorry, so very sorry, but we’re imperfect.
And we desperately need the breathing room of grace when we feel suffocated by the demands of perfection.
Long before David became King of Israel, this teenage shepherd boy visited his older brothers at their military encampment.
That’s when he first saw Goliath and the giant Philistine mocked God and taunted God’s people.
The Israelite soldiers stood around shaking in their boots instead of standing up to the enemy.
None of this made sense to David, so he asked a simple question: “Who is this guy? How dare he talk about God that way? What are we going to do to him?” (1 Samuel 17).
David’s older brother, Eliab, responded this way:
Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” (1 Samuel 17:28-29 ESV).
It was unjust and unkind. Eliab claimed he knew exactly what was in David’s heart and it was evil.
But of course, Eliab was wrong.
And apparently, this wasn’t the first time David’s brother pounced on him unfairly. After all David says, “What have I done now?”
David spent a lifetime responding to harshness and unfair criticism. From his brothers. From Saul. From his son, Absalom.
That’s enough to make a guy withdraw inward, to hide away in fear, to cower.
Instead, David leaned into the assurance that God was for him.
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:11 ESV).
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6 ESV).
We have an assurance we can lean into also when we feel battered and bruised by condemnation and when people seem eager to pounce on our imperfections.
God loves us enough to cover us with the cross.
There’s nothing negative within us, no sin we’ve committed, no mistake we’ve made that isn’t fully and completely covered by Christ’s death in our place.
He is not out to get us. He is not inspecting us for all that’s wrong and then condemning us for every flaw He finds.
He is gently making us more like Jesus and loving us the whole time.
So let’s give it to Jesus and move on.
Let’s rest in grace instead of battling the self-condemnation.
Let’s trust Him with our reputations when others accuse us unjustly.
Let’s keep moving forward instead of being cemented to a place of shame or bitterness.