How much time did you invest in showing kindness to others this week? What about gentleness? Self-control? Love? If the answer is “very little,” then perhaps you should consider adding at least one of them to your To Do List each day. Instead of adding things to our lives, many people are giving up things this time of year. Smoking is a big one. Many smokers decide to try kicking the habit for 40 days — only to succumb to the urge shortly after making the vow. Others start dieting during the Lenten season — only to give up on this temporary fix once the temptation becomes too great. Still others give up their social media addictions in an effort to spend more time face-to-face with friends and family. Working to become a better version of who you were yesterday is a great goal.
As we attempt to do better, we often times run into roadblocks that prevent us from acquiring requisite skills, or we encounter other obstacles that slow us down. It’s important to remember that we can do all things through Christ, for he strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
Wherever you may go and whatever you may do, someone is always watching, assuming, and judING. There is only one true judge, and at some point we must all give an account of our lives before His judgement seat (Romans 14) — not anyone else’s. So why do we invest so much time judgING each other when we haven’t been appointed to do so?
If a man is overweight, we assume that he eats too much and needs to go to the gym. If a woman is thin, we assume she is anorexic and needs to eat a burger. If a person is homeless, we assume that he is lazy and needs to get a job. If someone we know doesn’t attend church each week, we assume that they don’t believe in God. If someone we know never has anything positive to say, we assume that she just enjoys being miserable. Truth is, we don’t know their stories.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” ~Wendy Mass, The Candy Makers
The overweight man may suffer from depression or have a thyroid condition. JudgING him does nothing for his self-esteem or his weight woes. Consider what you can do to encourage him, support him, or serve him so that he doesn’t have to fight this battle alone — for two are better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
The thin woman may just be naturally thin. Take a look at her siblings and parents. That can sometimes dispel your assumptions. Perhaps she does have an eating disorder — a mental illness that causes her to see herself as overweight. Consider what you can do to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. People who suffer should never do so alone. If you can’t support them, perhaps you know someone who can. JudgING is not the solution.
The homeless man you see each week probably gets judged the most. We assume he’s trying to scam us because we saw it on Inside Edition or 20/20. Maybe he really will work for food. Perhaps he’s a Vietnam Veteran whose mind never left the battlefield, and he lost everything he held dear because his demons consumed him and his country forgot about him. Consider what you might do to welcome him back into the fold or connect him with resources he so desperately needs. JudgING him won’t get him out of his tent city and into a home.
The person you know who never goes to church may suffer from anxiety, and the fear associated with being in a crowd completely consumes her. Perhaps she watches Joel Osteen every Sunday and listens to Dr. Tony Evans’ radio show each week. On the other hand, she may not believe in God because she lost her only child to a terrible, undetected illness 10 years ago. She prayed for a miracle, but her beloved child still succumbed to that disease. Consider what you can do to help her live again. How can you teach her the truth about God and his amazing grace. JudgING her won’t drive her to Jesus.
What about Negative Nancy who never has anything positive to say at work. She might not really enjoy being miserable.Perhaps she never learned to count her blessings or doesn’t realize that she can turn her situation around if she’s determined to do so. What she doesn’t realize is that she is making everyone around her miserable. Maybe the only time she gets to voice her opinion is at work. Consider what you can do for her. Being her friend means that you must sometimes have courageous conversations. A friend loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17), and at times, it comes in the form of tough love. JudgING her won’t solve her problems.
I don’t claim to have all of the answers or any of them for that matter. What I do have, however, is an open mind and heart. I see myself in each of these scenarios — not because I have walked those paths, but because I have been judged. Sadly, I have also judged others. We all have. We’re all guilty of that crime. Thankfully, there’s time to right this wrong. If you’re reading this post, you have just been challenged to find one person that you have judged. Approach him with an open mind, an open heart, and a sincere desire to view him through a lens of compassion. Get to know his story.Build a bridge to help him get over whatever has him mired in his troubles. You can be the instrument of God’s love that brings him back from the brink of death and into the land of the living. If you think that this challenge is for someone else, think again. Consider the price our Savior paid on Calvary to illustrate that we are all worth saving.