The Words of In Jin Moon from 2009

Results of Pride: Judgmental-Critical-Gossiping Lovin' Life Ministry

In Jin Moon
August 30, 2009
Manhattan Center, New York City

Good morning, brothers and sisters. How is everyone this morning? This is a very special Sunday for us at Lovin’ Life because it’s the 21st week of our ministry here. Just recently our international president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, my younger brother, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, completed a special devotional meditation and condition for 21,000 new members as the goal for his ministry. He did a series of 21,000 bows, starting from July 29 and ending August 7. Anyone who has tried to bow consistently for anything more than 30 times will realize that it’s a very difficult thing to do. Toward the end he had to take 15-minute breaks. But he completed his condition.

This was a condition of laying a devotional foundation and preparing the way for the harvest that we are about to reap, not just in Korea, not just in America here at Lovin’ Life, but all over the world. I’ve asked for a special 21-week condition; I’ve asked for the District Directors to come together in unity and in understanding of what our international president has initiated in Korea, following in his footsteps to use this time to come together as a community by celebrating the next 21 weeks in remembrance of our True Parents and our Heavenly Parent, God.

So I thank all the District Directors, and I thank all the congregations around the country who will be participating. I think it will be a wonderful coming together of minds and hearts in preparation for all the great work that we’ll be doing in this country and elsewhere. I am truly delighted that our True Parents are here with us in America. Their presence in America when we are reaching the milestone here of 21 weeks at Lovin’ Life is quite significant for my team and me.

In spite of a lot of difficulties that we faced in the beginning in bringing this ministry to fruition, God blessed what we’re doing here, and God has allowed us to come together in heart and spirit to celebrate what we have, which is the true love we have for each other, for American members, and for the American people. I can only hope for greater things in the coming weeks, when I can look forward to seeing your beautiful faces every Sunday. So thank you.

When I think about the importance of unity, the coming together of our hearts and minds to create the power of true love that can be exercised within our own community, our own families, and this great nation of America, I’m always wondering, what is the greatest hindrance to unity, harmony, and peace? When I’ve prayed and meditated about this point, what comes to mind is pride. Romans 12:3 - 8 talks about being cautious of high-mindedness. What the Bible means by that is excessive pride.

The dictionary defines pride as arrogance or excessive belief in oneself as being superior over others, a sense of conceit toward others or wanting to blame others because you think that you’re so great. I call pride the I problem -- me, myself, and I. The letter I sits smack in the middle of pride. When we are filled with the high-mindedness of how great or how awesome we are, it can very quickly degenerate into a feeling of arrogance, into almost an entitlement to be conceited. The Bible and the great religions of the world have always cautioned men and women about this -- so please be careful and don’t be arrogant, please try to be more humble, more sacrificial, more serving. If we start concentrating on me, myself, and I, the I problem, and we think the whole world revolves around us, then we can easily become very selfish people.

As I shared with you earlier, the word selfish can mean a lot of different things to people, but in its essence selfishness is quite offensive to others. It’s something that sucks the living juices out of you and turns you into a dried fish, the type of person who’s not really growing at all. When you’re a good person, then the goodness of your spirit, heart, and character causes goodness to multiply all around you. But when you’re thinking only about me, myself, and I, that has a tendency to repel people.

I remember going to high school in America. School starts every September. Soon you young people will see a lot of old friends, but you’ll also see a lot of new faces. I remember when I was a sophomore. An absolutely gorgeous girl, someone who looked like a model, came to school, and the boys’ eyes popped out. The girls started huddling, thinking of ways to say something bad about this girl. But I thought, “What a masterpiece of God she is!” She was tall, with light ash-brown hair and beautiful, sapphire-blue eyes that looked too pretty to look at. There she was, waltzing into class, and even the teacher was speechless: the power of beauty!

On the first day of school we went around the class, introducing ourselves to each other. She seemed like a nice girl, and she was so externally beautiful. But it was interesting that in the course of the year, people started finding out that she wasn’t a beautiful person internally. Even the boys who were literally falling over themselves to talk to her, as the year went on, didn’t want to be anywhere near her. What was so beautiful initially turned out to be something not so beautiful. When the internal character starts coming out, it doesn’t matter how beautiful you are: Who you are is more powerful than what you look like.

At the end of the day, nobody wanted to be around her because she only wanted things to be done for her, and she only thought about herself. At lunch, instead of waiting in line like anybody else, she would just go to the front, push people aside, and get her lunch. People came to realize that she was a very selfish person. When you realize somebody is selfish, he or she is no longer beautiful and becomes quite offensive, really. Nobody wanted to be around her.

I remember when she and I struck up a conversation. Being a woman myself, in the presence of somebody so magnificent, I felt pretty humble. But I realized that she was like a little child inside, wanting love all the time, and I learned that she came from a family that was less than ideal so she had never really practiced living for the sake of others. She always felt that she had to grab for things and fight for what she wanted, never really thinking about giving and sharing. In the course of the year, when no one wanted to be anywhere near her, she and I became quite good friends. In the course of our friendship throughout high school, she became somebody more beautiful because she started to change the way she was on the inside, shaking off the armor of pride that she wore around her.

Many of us who are fantastic at what we do -- maybe we’re doctors or lawyers, ministers or teachers -- become so good at it that we start concentrating on what our purpose for existing is. For instance, if you’re a doctor, you’re there to save lives, to help people. If you’re a lawyer, you’re there to help people who are in trouble legally. If you’re a professor, you’re there to raise up young people to become better than you.

But over the years, realizing that you’re good at something, you may start getting wrapped up in your own armor of what you think is so awesome about yourself. Then you end up creating barriers, hiding behind your awesomeness or your incredible professionalism so nobody gets to know the real you. You easily can degenerate into thinking, “I’m a Ph.D. I’m a fantastic professor; I’m really awesome.” Then you can start feeling arrogant.

If you’re a professor, you might come to class not wanting to give any more but wanting to receive from your students. You want the students’ adoration, you want them to think “How awesome this professor is; he is so knowledgeable, so intellectual, so engaging!” Then you realize that what you’re seeking from your students is something that’s more about you, the I problem, than what you are supposed to be doing in your life. When we’re good at something, many times we put up this kind of barrier.

My husband has a Ph.D. in finance, and he’s also a graduate of Harvard Law School. When he was practicing as a prosecutor in Somerville, Massachusetts, he handled a lot of domestic abuse cases. He would come home with his armor on, an armor of professionalism: “I’m the hottest litigator in town. I am so hot, my wife should really be happy to be my wife.” He would waltz in the door, saying, “Hi, honey!” but the body language spoke louder than his words. It was like, “Your Hotness is back.”

Yes, absolutely he was a great litigator. In fact, he was hired by the Number One law firm in Boston, which tried to pry him out of going into a Ph.D. program right away after law school. Every year Harvard Law holds what is called a Moot Court competition in which students engage in a court process, arguing a case. These are the finest minds at Harvard Law School. My husband participated during his third year. He and his partner, Mr. Sacks, were arguing a case.

I was watching the way things were going. Mr. Sacks was a fantastic law student. By his being white and my husband being Asian, he thought that naturally their team was going to win. But his attitude was that if their team was going to win, then he should be the winner. He had incredible pride, thinking that he was the best law school student. But when you looked at the way these two men, on the same team, were arguing their case, you realized that my husband was better. He argued his case very well and ended up winning the Moot Court competition. It’s the most important competition at law school.

You should have seen his face. It was literally glowing; ever since then, I’ve called him the glowworm. In the 1970s, it was a really delightful little toy, a greenish little thing with huge eyes. My husband has huge eyes. In the early 1980s he wore glasses that made his eyes look bigger, and he was glowing. He was glowing with so much pride because he really worked hard to prepare for this competition. To be awarded the first prize, and then on the spot be given an invitation to join the Number One law firm in Boston, was a huge achievement for a law student.

When we drove home, he could not stop talking about how exciting it was. I was like, yes, it’s really exciting; it’s really great. When we got home I said, “Honey, first of all, you were magnificent. But honey, just promise me one thing: that your successful career as a great professor of law or finance will not get in the way of my ability to see the real you. You’re going to have so much armor. When you go into a court case, you are going in like a knight in shining armor in full glory gear. You’re there to wield your six-foot sword and smash the enemy and to win the battle. But when you come back home, I don’t want to live with a man in armor. I don’t want to live with a man who’s swashbuckling his six-foot sword all around the apartment. You might nick me every now and then. I want to see the real you without the superficial armor on.”

When I tell this story about my husband, I’m just using him as an example because we all go through this, every one of us. We all have our superficial armor that we put on because maybe we’ve been hurt in the past. When we tried to be vulnerable, somebody abused us badly or hurt us badly, so we don’t want any more emotional scars or wounds. We cover ourselves up with what we do with our professional careers, with what we do best. Many times we hide behind this thing called pride, this selfish arrogance or conceit.

But when I talk about being a proud son and daughter of our Heavenly Father, that’s not the kind of pride I’m talking about. When I say we have to be a proud son and daughter of God, it means understanding our proper self-esteem. It’s not pride, the noun meaning arrogance and conceit, but it’s to be proud as an adjective, to describe our state of being when we realize who we are, namely, God’s children. When we start thinking that we are God’s children, this glorious thing called true love action starts to flow, and we feel the love and tenderness that we didn’t feel when we cloaked ourselves behind pride.

Just as true love has certain attributes, like being unique, eternal, unchanging and absolute, the three fruits of pride are:

being judgmental
being critical, and
being a gossip.

If you really think about it, when people are judgmental toward somebody, it’s because they think highly of their own opinion. They really think they know better; they think that they have the right to cast condemnation because they’re superior.

When you refer to an expository dictionary of New Testament words and look up the word judgment, you realize that the translation from the Greek implies deciding to find fault in another. When you cross-reference that understanding, you realize it’s pointing to the word condemnation. When you look up the word judge, you will find that it is partially defined as forming an opinion. The cross-reference of that definition is sentence.

If you really think about judgment and about judging people, the only one who can truly judge any of us is God, is it not? Only God condemns and sentences us to what we need to do. But at the same time, of course, he’s encouraging us and empowering us.

When we put ourselves in a position where we are judging and being judgmental of others, we are actually putting ourselves in the position of God. Instead of realizing that we’re all God’s sons and daughters and that we all have equal divine value as human beings, we start thinking that somehow we’re better, somehow we’re superior. I think that this is one of the greatest obstacles to creating a united feeling, a feeling of being at home, which can come only through the experience of true love.

When we’re in the process of settlement in a community such as ours, we realize that a lot of us come with different experiences and different baggage. Some of us are still together with our spouse; some of us have gotten divorced and maybe are seeking a new blessing. Others are well on our way in preparation for the blessing, or maybe some of us took the low road, going the roundabout way, and now find ourselves back in our community, hoping to get back on track. As a community we have all different kinds of people, just the way we have all the different races and religious backgrounds and all the different hair colors here.

In order for us to come together and trust each other, to feel and experience this thing called true love, one of the things we have got to stop doing is being judgmental toward each other. Many times it’s not a wise thing to judge because even though you might think that you know everything, many times when you cast judgment you are literally petrifying that person into a category of what your understanding of that person is. You’re not giving that person an opportunity to grow or become better.

Many times what we’re doing when we judge somebody is casting a judgment that might often turn out to be 180 degrees opposite of the truth. For instance, everybody thought the girl was beautiful, a masterpiece of God when she walked in on the first day of classes in high school. But the class soon realized that she was absolutely the opposite. Many times when we quickly come to a point where we are exercising judgment on other people, especially on our precious brothers and sisters, we can be wrong.

There’s a delightful Chinese folktale about a very ugly man who was judged by others to be so hideous that nobody wanted to be around him. As he was nearing the age when most men would look for a lovely wife and start thinking about having an ideal family and wonderful children, he realized that he would never have a wife because he looked something like Phantom of the Opera, like the Elephant Man..

He heard that in the palace was a beautiful princess who was nearing the age when she needed to find a husband. The king opened up the palace and invited the country’s eligible men to come. The country’s most dashing, most educated, most cultured men came to pay her a visit. This ugly man, externally so hideous, really wanted to have a chance to be in front of the king and the princess. So he devised a plan.

He visited the great shaman of his town, saying, “I’m so ugly, but I have one wish. I would like to go before the king and have a chance to bow before the princess. I know she’ll never look at me because I’m so hideous, but I still want to offer her my bow. Is there any way that you can make my hideousness a little less offensive?” The shaman said, “I have a glorious mask, and when you put it on, it will mold to your face and turn you into the most handsome man in the universe.”

The ugly man believed in the shaman, as quacky as the shaman might have looked, and he put on the mask. The mask made him look like the most handsome man he’d ever seen in his life. The mask became his superficial armor, and he had incredible pride when he had this mask on.. He thought, “I am so handsome; maybe I can act a little arrogant.” As mothers, when we see our teenagers growing up and realizing for the first time that they’re quite pretty or that they’re quite handsome, the body language changes, right? The guys start strutting, and the girls start flipping their hair around, what I call feathering or puffing up. They realize, “Wow, I’m something to look at.” You build up this pride that you have a right to be arrogant toward the ugly people, or the less fortunate, because you are so hot.

Once this superficial mask went on the ugly man’s face, his face, his body language started changing. He started strutting, raising his chin a little higher when he glanced at the lower subjects. He left the shaman’s house and said, “I’m sure the princess will look at me.” So then he went before the king, and the king was overcome by his handsomeness: “Oh my goodness, what a glorious country China must be to produce such a son.” The king immediately took this gorgeous masterpiece to his daughter, and the princess was also awestruck. He was so lovely!

Off they went into matrimony, and he found himself the husband of this beautiful princess. But he had a dilemma because one thing he could not do was go to sleep with the mask on. The problem with marriage is that your wife is sleeping right next to you. He realized that he had to somehow expose what he was all about, become honest, and tell her the real story. But he felt so overcome by fear that if she really saw how ugly he was, she would behead him on the spot for being so deceitful.

So he devised a plan. He said, “My dear lovely wife, I realize that I have been so blessed to be even considered and given this opportunity to live the rest of my life as your husband, but I don’t feel I’m good enough to play this role in the court. Is it possible for me to do some outreach mission in the different villages so I can really take care of our people and serve them? Then maybe when I come back, I will deserve you.”

The princess agreed, so off he went for a couple of months. It’s like the First Generation witnessing and fund-raising. Off he went with nothing, maybe just a little bag of goodies that would help him on his journey. So he went from town to town, wearing his glorious mask and serving the village people. If people were sick, he went out of his way to nurse them. When people were hungry, he went out of his way to gather food from the village and create a wonderful communal soup that everybody could partake in. Everywhere he went, he tried his best because he realized he was really unworthy of the kind of love that the king and the princess had shown him.

But the day neared when he promised his princess that he would come back, and he realized that he had to confront his demons, to face his fear and tell his beloved wife who and what he is. So he came to the palace and sat before his wife. She was so happy because she had heard glorious reports from the villages about what a good job he’d been doing uplifting the people and encouraging them to be great sons and daughters. She was so happy to see him.

But his face turned grave and solemn when he said to her, “My dear wife, I have to tell you a secret. I have to tell you that I am actually a hideous person, an ugly, ugly person. I visited the shaman when I heard the king was opening the palace to consider eligible bachelors for your hand in marriage. From him I received this magic mask that makes me who I am. It’s this mask that you fell in love with, princess, but I need to show you my true form.”

The princess wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but he slowly took off the mask, and the princess just stood gazing at his face. At that moment this ugly man was thinking, “My time has come to be beheaded.” But the princess looked at him and said, “But, sweetheart, why do you say you are hideous? You are just as handsome as the mask you’re wearing.” At that moment he thought, “Did my princess have too much to drink? Did my princess lose her eyesight while I was gone?” He said, “No, no! Look at how hideous I am. Look at the scars, the pockmarks, my deformed nose.” The princess said, “I am looking at your face. It’s absolutely beautiful. You are beautiful.” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, so he grabbed the mirror and saw that he had become the same beautiful person that matched the mask.

The moral of the story is that this happened because he served the people by thinking more of them than of himself. By forgetting about himself, he allowed his true beauty, the inner beauty, to come out. His inner beauty was more beautiful than what he could ever be on the outside. Through his good works, through his altruism, living for the sake of others, he became a substantiation of what is truly beautiful, meaning the beauty of something within manifesting itself as something beautiful without. Someone who was originally typecast as an ugly Chinese man became the total opposite. The princess did not petrify him into a corner, declaring that he was ugly and would always be ugly.

When we talk about being judgmental, we will find ourselves also being critical of many things. When we think about the word critical and about what kind of person is a critical person, it means that when we’re critical of somebody in our family or our community, we are always looking for a fault or blame. Instead of thinking that something might be right about this person, the immediate response becomes, “What’s negative about this person? What’s wrong with this person?” (We’re not talking about constructive criticism here, which is very important when you’re studying literature because it can help you to become a better writer.)

Many times we feel very much self-entitled in thinking that we have chosen to live our lives for the sake of others, but in the process we realize it’s a life of suffering, a life of great difficulty. Instead of overcoming our difficulties and understanding them as opportunities to grow, we may become stuck in a quagmire of feeling really, really sorry for ourselves. Then we become hypercritical of everybody around us.

Frequently it’s very tempting to be critical of our spouse, not constructively trying to help but simply saying, “Why are you like this?” Or you have made my life so miserable.” Then we can never get out of a victim mentality. Being a victim, we feel we have the right to criticize everything else because we are so miserable.

Everyone thinks that being a member of the True Family is a glorious thing. But it’s a lot of work, and it’s a great deal of responsibility. Living a public life when you have no choice, when you’re born into it, is very difficult. I’m raising my children to the best of my ability, but sooner or later they have to choose for themselves whether they want to be part of the public life or not. I think it’s no different for all of my brothers and sisters in the True Family.

So often the environment that we grew up in was less than ideal. If we really allow ourselves to be negative, there’s a whole list we can go through. My brothers and sisters and I joke with each other that we should never start on that list because it would be never ending. When we start to think a little bit more about ourselves than living for the sake of others or being concerned about other people, it’s very easy to feel, “I did not choose this. I feel like a victim. This thing has been done to me. Don’t I have the right to be negative and critical and blame everybody?” It’s so easy to get into that rut.

When we were teenagers and testing out exactly what kind of a person we wanted to be or how much we wanted to be engaged or disengaged from your community, then we were testing out the different areas of what we thought we wanted to be. But when we’re concentrating on ourselves, it’s really difficult to be grateful. It’s difficult to be loving when you’re thinking about all the things that have been done to you.

When I look at my mother’s lifestyle as a wife of an extreme workaholic husband like my father, who thinks only about God and about world peace 24/7, I say to myself, it must be so difficult being my mom. Many things she must feel, “What did I ever do to deserve this?” Here she is supposed to be the true mother of humankind, and yet she’s married to a husband who can never really be there for her because he’s always taking care of the world. If anybody has a right to be critical or blaming, I think it is my mother.

But the incredible thing about my mother is that she understands how to use language as a vehicle of emotion and empowerment. Instead of being critical and throwing daggers at her spouse or family, or like a teenager in a rebellious mode and so unfairly critical of others, my mother, understanding the importance of language as a vehicle of emotion, decided to be not critical but to be empowering and to praise the people around her, including her husband. Instead of saying, “Why don’t you spend time with me?” she would say things like, “What a wonderful father you are, always working so hard for the sake of your children.”

We make decisions each day; we can decide to judge or not judge. My mother would feel judgment, but in her true love process she would return judgment with love. Whatever critical feelings she had, she would return those critical feelings with empowerment and praise. In that way she urged her family on to achieve many great things in our lives. My mother is truly an incredible woman. Thinking about her takes me to the third point, the third fruit of pride: the love of gossip.

To a non-English-speaking person learning the language here, the way I did when I first came, the word gossip looks like go sip. When I see people who love to gossip, who revel in the misfortunes of others, I visualize them as something out of Cirque du Soleil. It’s one of my favorite circus shows; all the characters are surreal and mystical. In my mind, I envision an incredibly funny-looking creature holding a straw, going to different people while they’re trying to have their soup or coffee or tea or water, and just sucking away the soup from this person, sucking away the water, sucking away the nutrition, something that the other person wanted to enjoy.

When you’re gossiping about something, you’re taking away something that belongs to someone else, turning it into something that you want, and sharing it with others, but not in the best way. Imagine a little creature going around our community with a big straw, sucking on everyone’s misfortune and wanting to talk about it. It’s not conducive to creating the one unified family that we want so badly.

My mother is a Korean woman, and she knows Koreans have incredible pride in who they are. But one of the things my father has stressed to the Korean people time and again is, “You must think of yourself as more than just a Korean person. You must think of yourself as a son or daughter of God.” As wonderful as it is to have nationalistic pride, sometimes it can be an incredible armor, a hindrance or an obstacle to greater unity when we’re talking about a community like this.

In our movement, because the founder and his wife are both Korean, there is a natural tendency, if we Koreans do not become vigilant about our understanding of ourselves, to so easily degenerate into thinking that we are the chosen people, that we are somehow better than other races, that somehow we are better than other nationalities.

I love to quote Dr. Young Oon Kim when I spend time with members. She clearly stated that if you are going to think of yourself as a chosen person, a chosen nation, or a chosen leader, the understanding of chosen means that you are chosen to serve. If you are a leader, you are chosen to serve your country. If you are Korean and you think that it’s so wonderful and the country of Korea has been blessed to have our True Parents, then the country of Korea should have an understanding of serving the other nations so that the other nations can be empowered to become better than the Koreans. By making the other nations better, then naturally Korea becomes the center and becomes a chosen country because it has done its job well by serving the other communities.

The American understanding is that a family that eats together stays together. There is a strong emphasis placed on to coming together for an evening meal. I think of Sunday worship and any church holiday worship as sharing a family dinner. If we cannot come together as one family and sit at one table, how can we say we’re a family? If the Koreans want to be just Korean and maintain their own identities in a separate location, never becoming part of the greater fabric that we call our American movement, we will never be as powerful a community as we truly can be. Lovin’ Life Ministry is a ministry for all of us. It’s for all our families. It’s not just for the Japanese, the Europeans, the Chinese, the Russians, and so on. It’s for the Korean people, too.

If the Koreans are in such an elder position to have been blessed with the honor of having the True Parents come as a son and daughter of their country, then we have to be the prime example of service. We have to be the first to shed our superficial armor and to reveal the genuine self that we are, which is the sons and daughters of God. Instead of delighting in our own conceit, we need to delight in the fact that we’ve been given an opportunity to love.

Just recently we had a wonderful Sports Fest, with different districts represented and competing in Second Generation games. We had the headquarters team, made up of an amalgamation of STF-ers and the KEA. For the first time the KEA, instead of being its own team, was advised to play together with STF. This was not Korea competing against Japan. We’re talking all the families in a particular district. Instead of creating a separate identity, how wonderful would it be if the Koreans could be part of the headquarters team?

We had a wonderful event, and there were some great games. Every district wore a unique T-shirt. I heard that there was a bit of a kerfuffle because though the Koreans came on the first day wearing their headquarters T-shirt, on the second day they no longer wanted to be part of the headquarters team; they wanted to be the Koreans. So off came the headquarters T-shirt and on went the Korean T-shirt. When that T-shirt went on, they did not behave in the best team spirit, as one would expect of an older brother or sister. One starts becoming too prideful, starts strutting, starts pushing the muscles here and there. At the end of the day, it results in not such a good feeling, a feeling of disunity, of un-cooperation.

When I’m asking our congregation to really think of ourselves as one family under God, it means that we have to rise above our individual egoistic pride and our own nationalistic pride, which might be hindrances or obstacles to our community really coming together in enjoyment and celebration.

For the Koreans to have a separate service would be like Italians at the Vatican having their own service. How can the Koreans continue to have their own service in the context of our community? Are we not one family? And shouldn’t our children be allowed to worship in an international family environment so that they can be better than mere Korean Second Generation blessed children? They can start practicing what it’s like to think of themselves as something more than what their race or nationality tells them they are. And how wonderful it would be for every child in our community to come out of our embrace as a confident and proud son or daughter of God, with proud meaning having the proper self-esteem.

I’ve heard a lot of feedback about the Sports Fest. Some of the kids from KEA actually said, “I never knew I had so many international brothers and sisters.” Why should we keep our children away from their international family members? We really need to encourage ourselves in this time when we’re practicing through the next 21 weeks this important thing called unity. The only obstacle that I see on the road to achieving just that is a thing called pride. It has the three fruits of what I call being judgmental, being critical, and gossiping about each other. You guys, we are all great people. So what I would like to see going forward is changing what I call the I problem of the word pride into something that we can consider the love emblem of our movement, which is people, sons and daughters, wanting to practice true love in their daily life by not concentrating on I, but on we.

We are wonderful. We are incredible. And our children should be given an opportunity to enjoy the full glory of this incredible, international community that we have in America. This is not a community where we’re going to be bickering about who’s better or about who’s more beautiful, about who’s more powerful, about who’s richer, or about who’s not as good in terms of their marital relationships. I always tell couples, “If you have a wonderful relationship, you should revel in the fact that you are really blessed. At least think of yourself as being blessed, to have been given a spouse who is willing to work with you and willing to grow with you. If you see some less fortunate members of our community who are struggling in their marital life or who have gone the difficult course of separating and finding somebody else, take pity instead of being judgmental. Maybe they didn’t have a spouse as wonderful as yours. Maybe their spouse didn’t want to be working on the relationship as seriously as your spouse did.”

Many times when we judge, we can be totally wrong. We need to love. Instead of being super-critical, we need to empower and we need to love. And instead of resorting to gossip, if you want to exercise the muscles of the tongue, God gave us this wonderful thing called prayer. It’s a great way to exercise the muscles of the tongue instead of selling somebody out or literally skinning someone alive with your criticism, petrifying a person into a category or slot and saying, “You will never grow.” Being critical is like skinning a live person. Can you imagine how painful that is? And when we gossip, it’s like taking somebody out into the marketplace for everyone to tear apart.

Instead of exercising our tongue in that way, why not exercise our tongue in a glorious way, by saying a prayer for the very person we want to gossip about? Why not say a prayer for the less fortunate? In that way we can create a feeling of belonging to a place that feels like home. A home is something worth fighting for.

When we pledge ourselves to our Heavenly Parent that we want to live a good life and we want to live for the sake of others, what we are doing is making a commitment to God and telling him, “I’ll be there for you, no matter what; I will never leave you. I am and will always be your son or daughter.” When we give ourselves to God, it’s like signing a document, putting it into an envelope, and sending it off. Instead of harassing the postman to bring your mail back to you, why not just send it and commit and live your life as a good person? Not because you want the glories of heaven, but because -- just because -- you want to be a good person.

On this glorious Sunday morning, please think about the different obstacles that stand in the way of us coming together into one family under God. We are so lucky in America to have so much variety and diversity represented here. It will be our strength, not our detriment. Before we think about our own glory, let’s take a moment to think about how wonderful everybody else around us is. Let’s spend our energy and time to raise everybody up so that everybody in the community can be greater than we are. Then we will realize that when we take care of others, we’re becoming wonderful people in the process.

Have a wonderful Sunday, and God bless you.

Romans, chapter 12

1: I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

2: Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

3: For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.

4: For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function,

5: so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

6: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;

7: if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching;

8: he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.  

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