When you pray, what do you ask for?

I ask God to make me more like Jesus tomorrow than I am today. This is my one consistent prayer I ask of God each time I pray. I pray this when I pray on my own and when I pray with my kids. That probably sounds cliche, but that is my heart's desire and that is what I want for my kids. I don't want to be rich. I don't want a fancy home — earthly things just seem to keep me as their possession not the other way around. I just want to love with a love that comes from Christ.

I want to love those who others either don't see or those who, for whatever reason, are not easy to love. I want to love people as they are, no strings attached. I want to see them through the eyes of Christ for what they can become — for what they can overcome if they will just follow the path God has for them. A friend helps a lot in those circumstances. I want to be that friend.

Christ's unconditional love brought me from drug and alcohol abuse. It was never someone telling me I shouldn't be participating in all the mess that had me trapped. The people who helped me along the way were kind, loving, and authentic with their own struggles. The spirit of condemnation that many display in their speech and attitudes repulse and put walls up between them and others who need the love of Jesus.

Recently, I heard someone speak very hurtful words about a certain type of people who struggle with a certain type of sin. These hurtful words probably would have turned someone with this struggle away from Christ if they had been present when spoken. These words would have confirmed the bias that most of the non-churched culture has toward Christians.

Isn't it time that God's people start talking like God's people, acting like God's people, loving like God's people? Isn't it time we quit choosing what sins we can accept in those around us and in us, then bash the rest of sinners as if we were so much better than they are?

A great man of faith who I am blessed to know, M.C. Cranfill, is now well past his 80th birthday. He is a sweet and godly man, giving his life to caring for his wife in her declining health. M.C. used to make a business card up to carry with him. He might still have some in his wallet. He put the name of our church, then underneath, Hospital for Sinners.

That is what I want our church to be — a hospital for sinners. Yet, I wonder if there are certain kinds of sinners who we don't welcome with open arms into our church because of our biases? I know we will answer to the Lord for how much we love those who are lost. I also know that we will answer to the Lord for the pain we cause others who are searching for Christ, but who we drive away because of our careless and hurtful words and attitudes.

Do our words or actions cause some to just leave and give up? Is there really no hope for them, even in Christ and in the fellowship of his people? Have we, as His followers, made that hopelessness very clear by our careless and hateful words?

Jesus and His brother James remind us that our love for the lost includes the way we talk about them and their sin. Our words matter just like our search for purity and our care for the needy. What's more, these words reveal what is in each of our hearts! Jesus said it this way:

"For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you" (Matthew 12:34-37 NLT).

James wrote followers of Jesus:

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like.

But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continue in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless (James 1:21-26 TNIV).

Let's make sure we reflect the heart of Jesus!
Let's make sure our words, and our attitudes, reflect the heart of Jesus! "O God, please make me more like Jesus!"

More of Tammy's work can be found on her blog, In the Grip of Grace or her Marcelain Photography Blog.

Tammy is part of The Coffee Group, a varied group of women who express their love, faith, and praise for God with ladies they love. They do ladies' retreats and special speaking on God's work in their lives, as well as the importance of sharing your faith story.

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