by Nancy Alcorn
Over the years, I have listened to the experiences of thousands of broken young women. Many of them sought help from local churches before they ever walked through the doors at Mercy. Some of them had responded to altar calls and received Christ as their Savior and yet still did not feel accepted by the congregations. They felt a sense of rejection. They had messed-up backgrounds and their minds had not yet been renewed by God’s Word. They were not disciple, and they struggled to accept themselves. They felt judged and rejected, so they left their churches without ever getting connected.
That breaks my heart. Jesus was disgusted with hypocritical rule keepers who were quick to judge others. He said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me,” (Matthew 15:8, NKJV). Throughout the New Testament, Jesus was constantly challenging the scribes and Pharisees about their self-righteousness and their unwillingness to show love and mercy. In turn they criticized Him for hanging out with sinners and rule breakers. His response was that “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12–13 NIV). And James 2:13 reminds us that “mercy triumphs over judgment.”We all need to take these scriptures to heart. We must have compassion for people we don’t understand. We have not walked the paths they have walked. When people who look different from us come to church, we shouldn’t judge them. And it is not just a matter of smiling and being careful with our words. Sometimes we may even give ourselves brownie points for not being like them. This pretentiousness is what the Pharisees were so good at.
We must remember that when judgment is present, compassion is absent. Sadly, visitors who do not make our “cut” are labeled outsiders, and leave with even more baggage than they had when they arrived. Instead of offering fresh hope, we load them down with greater hopelessness. I’m reminded of a young girl who came to Mercy in the late ‘80s with an unplanned pregnancy. Her church kicked her out for being pregnant and would not allow her to come back. The very place where she should have received unconditional love and support was the place that turned her away. This makes no sense. It is the same thing as a hospital turning away someone in need of medical care. One of the main purposes of the church is to care for the wounded—at least the church as God intended.
What are we thinking? No wonder Jesus warned us against judging others.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1–5, NKJV).
The real issue in this passage involves dealing with the sin in our own lives. In order for us to see clearly from God’s perspective, we must first remove the “plank” of self-righteousness from our lives.
Judgment clouds our vision and keeps us from helping others the way they need to be helped.
Our judgment blocks our view of the situation. Other people are not our standard. The standard is God’s Word and Jesus Christ. Really, this whole book is about taking the planks (obstructions) out of our own eyes so that we can see clearly the why behind the what and bring healing to the brokenhearted.
God wants us to get involved, but first we have to deal with ourselves. If we are going to love others, we have to see them through God’s eyes. If we ask Him, He will give us eyes to see the way He sees people and a heart to love them the way He loves them.
Nancy Alcorn spent eight years working with juvenile delinquent girls and investigating child abuse cases, giving her direct encounters with children and teens that the system had all but given up on. What she learned is that there is always a reason why people are the way they are. God showed her that when we see and love young women the way He sees and loves them—without judgment—we can have lasting impact in their lives. Called to put this compassion into action, she established Mercy Ministries, a program where thousands of lives have been transformed.Mercy Ministries is a free-of-charge residential counseling program for girls, ages 13-28, who are struggling with tough issues such as physical and sexual abuse, eating disorders, cutting, addictions, unplanned pregnancy, sex trafficking and more. For decades Mercy Ministries has served as an important resource to pastors and churches throughout the world. Pastors often recommend Mercy to hurting young women in their congregations. Program applications for girls who need help can be downloaded at www.MercyMinistries.com.
Additionally, Mercy Ministries offers its Mercy For book series free as a resource for church leaders to use in addressing some of the issues girls who come to Mercy struggle with. To obtain these helpful resources, please contact Adrienne Lindsey at [email protected]
Nancy Alcorn’s new book to be released in 2015, Ditch the Baggage: Change Your Life, will encapsulate the seven key components of the successful Mercy Ministries counseling curriculum, which combines biblical principles of healing and unconditional love with best-practice clinical interventions and has been developed over nearly three decades of experience. This will serve as a powerful resource for church leaders who seek to help young girls find healing and freedom.
For more information on Mercy Ministries and its resources or to read the countless success stories of girls who have found lasting freedom, please visit www.MercyMinistries.com.
Nancy Alcorn is the Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, an organization dedicated to helping young women find freedom from life-controlling issues. Nancy founded Mercy Ministries in 1983, and several years and many changed lives later Mercy Ministries has locations across the United States and around the world. The following is an excerpt.
“Judgment clouds our vision and keeps us from helping others the way they need to be helped.”