I was at college, talking to my professor about my end-of-the-semester project; an in-depth study of one chapter of the Bible. I was so excited about it. The chapter I chose was Isaiah 58, where God talks about true fasting.
“My roommates and I are doing a fast right now,” I said, in my flurried speech, “so I am really excited about digging into this topic.”
My professor, who was listening intently, suddenly frowned. I noticed the change of expression, but just assumed I was taking up too much of his time and excused myself.
The next day in class, he took quite some time talking in-depth about the passage in Matthew 6, where Jesus is teaching about fasting in secret. He looked pointedly at me and said, “I feel that anyone who announces they are fasting, has then nullified the fast.”
I was horrified.
And I felt condemnation to the tips of my toes.
Although I had been so excited about the project, I know the paper I turned in was less than mediocre, despite my ability to write. It was laced with embarrassment and dry as dirt.
Afterwards, I couldn’t remember that situation without my face flushing; until the year I decided to start memorizing Romans 8.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
One day I was in the middle of reciting the passage when I felt God still my heart. I remembered the situation and I felt God clearly say, “You’ve been carrying this weight of condemnation for years– feeling embarrassment for publicly sharing about your fast, but you’ve never asked me what I think about it.”
His words shocked me, but they were so true! I hadn’t asked Him. Instead, I just shrugged the weight of condemnation someone offered me right onto my shoulders and carried it away– for years. After all, they were using Scripture to pour the weight onto me– therefore, they must be right… right?
But, of course, when I asked God the question, His answer was very different. It was Romans 8:1. There is now no condemnation.
Turns out, God sees far more than man can see. He sees and judges our hearts. And where there is sin, we’re responsible to repent and be cleansed. And where there is youthful exuberance and innocence– He gets it. Because we’re not judged by the letter of the law anymore– but rather by our hearts.
In this case, my heart was innocent– wrapped up in the excitement about studying a subject I was living-out– not concerned at all with what other people thought of my fast.
I still remember the way that weight lifted right off me. Yes, it was a silly little thing– but sometimes the silliest, littlest things keep us wrapped right up in fear-of-man, to the point where we forget that our job is to fear God alone.
And of course, God’s final words on the subject were so like Him, filled with a bit of irony, “There are so many things you do need to repent of, Tasha, there is no need to carry about the weight of things that are not yours.”
But the glorious thing about the sins I do need forgiveness for? Even then, He condemns not.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”