I have seen her cry before, but only for being in jail or when she found out she wasn’t going home after going to court. But this time was different; she sat across from me with tears falling from her eyes because she went to another girl in the cell, that she stole coffee from, while she wasn’t looking. She knew the girl was going home but before she left the cell, there was something inside her telling her to tell the girl she was sorry. She wiped the tears from her face as she told me that nobody would have known it was her that took the coffee, but she needed to ask her for her forgiveness. Tears started rolling down my eyes now; because I have listened to this girl a lot of times before and she has never admitted to stealing not to mention feeling bad enough about it to make it right.
Another surprise I got from this girl was that she said she was reading her Bible. Now that wasn’t the surprise, because she has read it before, but it was a self effort “the thing to do” reading of the Bible. She told me now she was pausing at the commas and stopping at the periods. She was listening to the Holy Spirit before moving on. Jesus is changing her heart from a religious spirit to a real receiver depending on the Spirit of God. She did talk about her children, but it was the way that she left it up to Jesus to show them the realness in her. They are mostly grown, and she has lied to and stolen from them their whole lives. Her marriage has been one that stems from fear and domination. She is no longer blaming her behavior on him, her childhood or her excuses about religion. These are real tears I witnessed, real remorse for her past, but awareness that only Jesus can vindicate her and time will tell the truth. She said the truth (Jesus) will set her free and she is free indeed.
There has been a lot of talk lately about the religious spirit, which means people trying in their own strength to please God by their behavior. I think there is a time we all experience this because the flesh is weak and is easily deceived. After trying and failing, we come to the place we seek a relationship with the one and only who can please God, which is Jesus Christ our Savior. We read the Bible because we want to hear from God, we pray because we seek a heart answer from Him. We do things for others because we love Jesus then it becomes something that we can’t, not do. I know for me it happened gradually. I started seeing people through the eyes of Jesus, I started to love them for no other reason, but because they are available to love. I can’t explain it, really, I just love people. Some it takes a little mustering, but hey, those are the ones God uses the most in our lives. My point is that it becomes a relationship with Jesus Christ and not a performance issue. It’s not by works that we are saved, but by grace are we saved, that is the free gift of God. He is the one who saves us and He is the one who keeps us.
I had the opportunity to talk about Romans 6:21 to the ladies tonight and how we are a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness, but we are always a slave. If you have been born again, then you are dead to sin. Sin no longer has dominion, or mastery, over you. I asked them to fill in the blank, “every time I do _____, (this) _____ happens. One girl spoke up and said, “every time I do drugs, I come to jail.” Another girl raised her hand and said, “every time I give my life to Jesus, things go easier.” In verse 21 it says “therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.” In other words, why do we keep doing the things that bring us shame, pain and death? Verse 22 has the answer, it says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification and the outcome, eternal life.”
It is better to depend on Jesus and seek a relationship with Him and let Him live His life through your personality and that is exactly what I saw in this lady for the first time. She has been in and out of jail for a lot of her adult life. This time, though, I saw tears of joy because of the freedom she is experiencing by giving up and letting Jesus be who He is inside her. It’s a beautiful thing when you can cry tears of joy because of what Jesus is doing in your life and the life of others.