I thought I had it all figured out. I was right, they were wrong and that’s all anyone needed to know.
Have you ever felt like this? Be honest, now. No one is looking at your answer…tell the truth. Have you ever looked at someone, their lifestyle, their language, their weight, their habits, their behavior and decided….well, we in the South would say, “bless their heart”, and just go about our business. We may even shake our heads sadly. “Bless ’em.”
I have. Many times. But..The Lord is teaching me a lot of lessons and HOW to judge others is one of those. May I share with you?
You see, I must not have understood the principle that **everyone** is worthy of His love, grace and mercy until recent years. I suppose I was complacent in my obedience of the Law, the Legalism. I “went to church” when I was told to–“every time the doors are opened”; I was baptized and took Communion; I didn’t sin “too badly”; I dressed, ate, drank, spoke, and basically lived like a good little Christian should. In fact, all this can be said for Mr. Patient, as well. He and I are traveling this road of grace together, hand-in-hand, walking, stumbling, dusting off one another as we….grow.
Somehow along the Legalistic Way we didn’t catch on that Love truly IS what makes the world go ’round. Perhaps this reminder is timely….
“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here. But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception. Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”
1 John 4:1-21 (emphasis mine)
Have you judged folks because they were overweight, used foul language, didn’t “go to church”, lost their children to the foster care system, drank any type of alcohol, began AA or substance abuse program, lived an ‘alternative’ lifestyle, wore immodest clothing, wore modest clothing, stank, had missing teeth, had big houses, had little houses, had 12 children, had no children, wore large diamonds, drove fancy cars, etc……..?? Yeah, us too.
The Lesson Taught by the Exterminator
I judged a man unfairly. And I am sorry.
With our recent purchase of this home apparently came a complementary flea infestation. The littles and I waited at the home for the exterminator to show up.
When he knocked on the door, I met this unfriendly, mopey fellow who, from all indications, really hated his job. So, my immediate thought, “This guy is pathetic and I have a feeling we’ll end up keeping our fleas after he is gone. He obviously will do a lazy job and why did I even call this company. Good grief! (Insert feelings of anxiety) He’s going to be a waste of money”….yadda yadda yadda
Well, I drove the kids to get a smoothie so we wouldn’t have to be around his chemicals. Upon my return he was finished with what I was sure was a pathetic job. As he was writing the ticket, I decided to ask him his methods because I was sure he had just sat on his fanny while we drank smoothies.
He explained the process and even showed the equipment “to this ole bitty” – I am sure he was thinking. I then made mention of my son, Owen, who would occupy the house.
All of a sudden it came….
He said, “My oldest son is ten today and I need to take the kids out to supper (almost murmuring now…) I have kids ages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.”….
Me: “Wow! Really?”
Bug Dude: “Yeah, I do it all myself….”
Me: (gulp) “Ummm, you are a single dad?”
Him: “Yes, ma’am”
Me: **Oh, Lord, I am SO sorry! What an idiot!! I knew better than to judge Bug Dude by his demeanor. The poor guy is worn out and has to go home and be a party-dad all night for his kids!! Ugh!!**….. “Wow, Sir, good for you…(stumbling for words)…I mean….uh….blessings to you. Good job and happy birthday to your son.”
Here’s the key to judging others….
Listen to their stories. If they will allow us to do so, we can listen to their hearts. What have they been through that makes them act the way they do? Why are they shy, addicted, quiet, frightened, hesitant, rude, stinky, suspicious, homeless, deceitful, eager, sad? They have stories, reasons, walks of life which cause certain behavior and misunderstandings. So do we.
We should listen and learn as much as we are allowed. And where the stories stop, grace begins. Subsequently, if they won’t allow us to know their stories, we should remember that this hesitancy doesn’t negate the fact that grace should be extended into the unknown.
If Bug Dude shows up at your door, just remember Mrs. Katie’s unrighteous judgement.
And, you might have a suggestion handy for a 10-year-old’s birthday party.