Who am I to Judge?

I have to admit that I am one of the most judgmental people in the world.  I tend to keep my judgments to myself, but they are there.  They seep into my thought life before I even have a chance to realize they are there.  I hate it and when I realize what has happened, I try to make it right, but the judgment is endless it seems. 

I also have to admit that I’m a slow learner.  I cannot count how many times I have had the following thoughts and subsequent conversation with God.

Me- Hands raised high, eyes closed, singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty”  Eyes open, look around, feeling a bit self conscious.  “Did anybody hear my singing?”  “Was I on key?”  “Do my armpits smell?”  “Maybe I should keep my hands down today.”  “Should I sign?”  “I know the signs for this song.”  “Oh my gosh.  Look at the way that person is raising their hands during worship (or dancing or clapping or anything else that isn’t exactly what I think they should be doing).”  “I wonder if they do that just for an audience or if that is really how they think they should worship.”

God- How dare you!  That person is intimately involved with me right now and you could be too, but you’re too busy judging their relationship with me.

Me- Head hung low.  You’re right.  I’m sorry.  I want to worship with reckless abandon.  I’m so sorry.

These kinds of conversations are a direct result of my judgmental attitude and happen frequently.  They don’t just occur within the walls of the church for me, either.  I distinctly remember a dinner with my youth pastor at Home Town Buffet (it was the best Yuma had to offer at the time) and in the middle of our conversation, he asked me, “Why do you judge every girl that walks by?  Does it make you feel better?”  I was shocked.  I was even slightly defensive because I was truly unaware that I was doing anything.  Jeff pointed out that every time a female walked past our table, I looked her up and down several times.  After he mentioned it, I realized that what I was doing was judging each and every one of them.  I was looking them up and down, looking for faults.  Without even realizing it, I was trying to find fault in every person around me, based on nothing but how they looked/dressed.
I was on the other end of that judgment this weekend.  I LOVE my church.  I love the people and the leaders and just the way it has become home so quickly in my heart.  I tell everyone I can about my church and want everyone to experience it at least once in their lives.  It’s funny though, because if I were to write everything down on paper of what I thought I was looking for in a church, my church would have very few of those items.  Typically, I feel safe and at home in larger churches with very rehearsed and planned out worship and preaching.  I like mega churches and I like churches that have full time worship pastors who wear skinny jeans and believe that the lighting in the room is just as important as the acoustics.  I like churches that have fancy posters for the sermon series and who have a pastor on staff for everything from preaching to cleaning the toilets.  You get the point. The church I just described is not my church.  My church is modest in size, sometimes we don’t have a drummer, 90% of the songs we sing are from the 90’s or earlier, there isn’t ANYONE on staff who wears skinny jeans and the lighting is the same as in my home, overhead lights that only turn on or off.  BUT, my church is my home.  The people there are amazing.  They make you feel welcome and safe and every week, I leave feeling challenged and encouraged in my walk with God.  I wouldn’t trade my church for anything and I’m proud to call it home!

There was a young couple (my age, I suppose) who came into service a bit late on Sunday.  They came in and quickly found their seats and as I watched the young woman, I felt such conviction.  She looked around at everyone in the room, listened to the music and everything else with a little smirk on her face.  You could tell this was not her cup of tea (I’m trying not to sound judgmental).  I was hurt, though.  I want every person who comes through the doors to love Warrenton Christian as much as I do.  I was frustrated and had to work hard not to be offended by her blatant judgment.  It was while I was working through those emotions that I realized I had been her in so many churches and I had probably offended people along the way.

Judgment is a nasty little pill.  I have wrongly judged people and had to bite my tongue later.  I have wrongly judged situations and suffered because of it.  In judgment is not how we have been called to live.  We have been called to live in love and how can we love if judgment has blurred our vision?  Through my judgment do people see Jesus or do they see another Christian who claims to love but is really just another judgmental hypocrite?  When I judge whether out loud or internally (which I am painfully aware of the fact that I do not hide well), do people want to know Jesus?  Do they respond to His unending love or do they respond to what they see as intolerance and ignorance?  Check out this really good research articles on how the unchurched view Christianity.  Is this mainly because of judgment?

I want my life to reflect Christ into the lives of other people I meet.  I want to be transparent enough and honest enough that there is not any doubt that Jesus is love.  I want others to know that it is only because of His grace that I am who I am and I want that to be viewed as a positive thing.  My quick and endless judgements can easily leave a bad taste in others’ mouths and when I talk about Jesus, all those judgments do is misrepresent His love and His grace.  His love, His true and perfect love, is about sacrifice and I want people to know that when they meet me.

I have to admit something here.  I began writing this blog this morning  and then took a break when Micah woke up from his nap.  We Skyped with my mom, ate lunch and then went to run errands and our last stop was the park.  When we got there, there were a couple of middle school aged kids and Micah and I, but about five minutes into our play time, a truck pulled up and out jumped a little boy who could not have been older than four years old.  His mother stayed in the truck and was doing something on her phone.  No big deal, until the kid started going down the slide while Micah was still on it, jumping in front of the camera as I was trying to take pictures of Micah and demanding that I push him in the swing.  Judgment flooded my mind.  I was so frustrated with that mother who was sitting in the truck and allowing her child to ruin MY time with Micah at the park.  As I was leaving (because the other little boy had knocked Micah down one too many times), my heart began to soften.  I realized how judgmental I had been and laughed at the fact that I was just writing about this issue a couple of hours earlier.  As a Christian, my response to this woman should have been compassion.  Who knows what is going on in her life.  Maybe someone is in the hospital and allowing her son to play at the park while she received updates on her phone in the car was the best option for her and her family today.  Or maybe she was just lazy and was on facebook and just didn’t feel like mothering her son today.  Either way, she did NOT deserve my judgment, but rather deserved my love and compassion.  I should have asked her how I could serve her today.

So, here is my challenge today (for me, first and foremost).  Stop judging.  Make yourself aware of just how many times each day you judge other people and begin to fight against it.  Fight against it with love and compassion.  Stop yourself and ask how you can better represent Christ to that person… how you can serve them and love them sacrificially.

The Proof of Your Love- For King and Country

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breathe with every song
I bring, an empty voice
A hollow noise

If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste
With every word I say

Chorus
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You
And what You’re made of
How you lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love

If I give to a needy soul
But don’t have love then who is poor
It seems all the poverty
Is found in me

Chorus

Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
When it’s all said and done
Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
When we sing our final song

Only love remains
Only love remains

Chorus

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