Hey, don't judge me
When I got out of the house and went to college, I was so judgmental. It’s embarrassing to think about. Arrogant young men can be so, well, arrogant. I remember going with my girlfriend at the time to visit her older brother, who was like 10 or 15 years older, and he and his girlfriend were both teachers and had summers off. They had been living together for years. It turns out they didn’t believe in marriage, and they didn’t believe in having kids, and they lived in a trailer on the lake during the summers, and I remember that weekend my girlfriend and I got into some stupid arguments. To add to that, I brought up the fact that ‘somehow I don’t think your brother and his girlfriend like me,’ so she says – ‘it’s because you’re so judgmental.’ I was incensed, and I got defensive which only made things worse. But, it was because I was in fact extremely judgmental. (How does a judgmental person react when you call them judgmental? Just like a passive-aggressive person reacts when you tell them they are being passive-aggressive...) I look back now and think, I was living this lifestyle following right after them – and I was looking down on them. Even if I didn’t say it in words, it was still obvious.
Humans are so judgmental. We judge people by what they wear – or don’t wear, by what they say – or don’t say, by when they show up or choose not to, by how they act or didn’t act to meet our preference.
I regularly meet people who say they want to come to church, but they’re afraid they will be judged. That's because, they would be judged. People are desperate to encounter the lover of their souls but have to get past the rest of us hypocrites who are thinking about everything that’s wrong with them or just look at them suspiciously because they are different. People come looking for freedom and forgiveness, but sometimes the only voices they hear or the ones full of vitriol and vindictiveness, spite and stereotype.
“Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” James 4:11 NIV
Where am I judging and condemning people, based on whatever: age, gender, relationships, where they were born, their language, their looks, their past or even their present – and where can I give and forgive, so that they can walk in the freedom God wants to grant?
Took a few years after I started following Jesus, but I started hanging out with a different group – guys where we could laugh together, people who gave our leaders the same grace we gave each other, people who still felt the challenges, but responded completely differently – as in, 'maybe those people need Jesus even more than we do right now…' We prayed more, stepped in where we saw people hurting, cried together when they suffered losses, and rejoiced when prayers were answered. And we pointed them and each other to the One who had forgiven us, embracing truth AND grace, judgment AND forgiveness, knowing we deserve only judgment AND Jesus came and rescued wretches like us.
When judgment comes up in your mind, you can let Jesus come out of your mouth.