“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.”– Matthew 7:1
How do you feel when you know you’re being judged? How do you react when you walk into a room and feel stares of others, sizing you up for how you look or what you’re doing?
Usually, I get out of there as soon as possible, all the while passing a little judgement on them for being so snooty. But once in a while, someone’s stares cause me to look at what I’m wearing or what I’m doing and realize how crazy I must seem to them.
Like the time, a few summer’s ago, when I stopped at the gas station on my way home from getting duplicate keys made at the hardware store. Now, you should know that my family treats the gas station like a NASCAR pit stop. As soon as I put it in park and shut off the engine, the kids and I rifle through the car, collect all the trash, then throw it into the trashcan near the pump. My teenage daughter had been driving the car lately, so that day was quite a haul.
When we got home, I realized that the duplicate keys were missing. I immediately thought about the gas station. Since the keys were in a small paper bag, I bet we threw them out thinking they were trash. I quickly jumped back in the car and retraced our steps.
Standing casually next to the gas station trashcan, I peered inside. Thankfully it hadn’t been emptied. I could still see our snack wrappers on top. I looked around. Since everyone seemed busy filling up their cars, I decided to go for it. I stuck my hand in and quickly sorted through the trash on top. No luck. I’d have to dig deeper.
Since my arms were too short to reach the bottom of the canister, I pulled off its plastic covering and heaved the trash bag out onto the ground. Throwing stealth to the wind, and gagging a little at the foul smell, I squatted down, ripped open the trash bag, and started sorting through soda cans, chewed bubble gum, half-filled coffee cups, and I don’t even want to know what that slimy thing was.
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t find the lost keys. As I stood up to put the trash bag back into its container, I felt the glare of eyes upon me. I looked over at a couple sitting in a big Ford truck on the other side of the pump…staring at me. Their windows were up, but I knew they were talking about me.
When our eyes met, I knew I had to explain myself. So I walked over to the driver’s side and motioned for the man to roll down his window. He looked a little embarrassed himself. Before the window was half way down he blurted out, “We were talking about how we might help you.”
I burst out laughing and replied, “I know what it must look like, but it’s not what you’re thinking.” I explained the mystery of the missing keys and we all three laughed together. They were relieved I wasn’t destitute and dumpster diving, and I was thankful for the laughter that replaced judgment and stress.
Driving away from the gas station, I was reminded of how quick I am to judge others. I judge the mother on her phone at the playground. Shouldn’t she be playing with her toddler? I judge the homeless man holding up a sign outside of McDonald’s. I bet he could get a job there.
What if instead of being quick to judge, we step into other people’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective? We might be surprised to learn that the mother at the playground just received divorce papers from her husband. She was talking to her mother about the devastation. Or the homeless man… He was just released from prison and every one of his job applications had been rejected.
When Jesus walked this earth, He made a point of teaching people around Him not to judge others (Matthew 7:1). Since He was fully man, He certainly knew we’d be prone to judge. Since He was fully God, He knew we’d need reminders why judgement hurts, tears down, and divides us.
So who have you judged lately? Could their circumstances be different than what you see? What if you pause and instead of jumping to conclusions, you step into their shoes?
When we choose compassion and kindness over criticism and judgement, we might be surprised what we discover, like the missing keys that had been in my purse the whole time.
3 O’Clock Circle - Two or more together sharing real life and relevant faith.
Read this week’s blog or listen to our podcast. Then discuss these 3 questions in your circle.
When have you felt judged? What other emotions seem to quickly follow judgement?
In what circumstances are you most likely to judge others? Would a conversation be possible or helpful?
Why do you think Jesus taught those around Him not to judge? What might He know that we often forget?
If you have any questions about our 3 O’Clock Circles, please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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