Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stop Judging

                Yesterday afternoon, I met a friend at the local brewery for a beer.  We don’t do this as much as we used to and I miss it.  We have also been very bad at staying in touch.  In the last couple of weeks, I have been worried about her and her family.  Her husband has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and the doctor’s are trying to figure out if it has spread to other areas.  The future does not look good.  She and I just went through the loss of a dear friend.  For her, our friend was more of a sister, so the loss was doubly hard for her and now she is facing it again with her husband.  True to form, this strong woman is doing well.  She is facing this challenge head on and strategizing her future. 
                During the conversation, I was bothered by a comment or two.  For the last nineteen hours, I have been mulling it over in my head how people can make a bad situation worse by their judgments.  One person has made the comment that she is lacking emotion in the situation.  In the same contest, people at work watch her for emotional outbursts thinking she is cold if she doesn’t have them.  This has never been her personality nor will it ever be her personality.  They shouldn’t expect it or judge it. 
She went on to talk about how she won’t handle all of this like our friend’s husband or the way I would with my husband.  She is different than me and our relationships with our husbands are different.  It only stands to reason that our going through a crisis will be handled differently.  This is completely logical and I will stand by her with the decisions she makes in the future.  We may discuss things and I may offer up what I might do, but ultimately, I stand by what she needs to do for the betterment of her needs, not mine.  Yet others will criticize, condemn, point fingers, and judge.
In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus states, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.  For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”  The explanation in my Bible’s notes sheds more light.  “This is not a prohibition against recognizing the faults of others but against passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of one’s own faults.”  In Luke 6:37, he also states these words of Jesus in a different way.  “Stop judging and you will not be judged, Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.  Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
I will always admit that I recognize the faults in others and myself.  I am horrible and judge people who judge me when I should be more loving.  With others who don’t judge me but instead accept my faults, I dismiss their faults.  I think it is human nature to defend ourselves against those who judge us to judge back.  Yet, do we really need to say it to their face especially during trying times?
Years ago, I chose not to attend a meeting.  The stress in my life would have only grown if I were to go to this meeting.  Several people condemned me for not attending.  A friend and I discussed my fault in not going.  She didn’t agree with me, but she also didn’t condemn me.  Instead she lovingly accepted my choice and grabbed all the information from the meeting and gave it to me so I could read up on the issues.  I will always remember this kindness and act of Christian charity.  I also use her example and try to emulate her love.
I pray that God buffers my friend from those who think they need to express hurtful notions of how she should handle her life.  And I pray I can always be there for her without judgment and a strong ear to listen.  And I sure hope we go out for more beer!
Blessings to you all.

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