On beng a Judge

Have you ever noticed how many shows are about competition? Competition everywhere! Young, old, pretty, not so pretty, losing weight, gaining weight, making a dress that doesn’t look like a costume, cupcakes, wedding cakes, any kind of cakes! There is always a panel of judges, or a judge’s table. You walk into a room, and you can the eyes of the judges are on you. Then you ask yourself, are you walking straight enough? Is your slip (who wears those anymore?) showing? You know that last ice cream cone you ate is showing on your hips, you feel it, and there are some particularly rude judges who don’t mind blasting your ego completely, until it is nonexistent.

On the occasion of someone close to me getting a divorce, I had heard the “judges” all around talking about the ins and outs of it and knowing it from the inside, decided to confront it head on. We were having a celebration for this person’s birthday, it was my turn to speak, and I stood there and looked, really looked, at the crowd in silence. When I opened my mouth I asked a question addressed to everyone in the room: “How many of you in this room have ever been divorced, raise your hand, no better, stand up!” I saw people looking around and then they started to rise. “I have another question for you”; this was after they had taken their seats, “how many of you have been divorced more than once?” Again, more than half of the original number stood to their feet. I turned and looked at the point of their gossip and said, “I rest my case.” There was a moment of silence and then spontaneously the room burst into applause and everyone was on their feet, to the relief of the person to whom I handed the microphone. I wasn’t trying to be mean, I myself have been divorced and I know how painful it is, I just wanted to prove the point:

Matthew 7:1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, and criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. Then Jesus adds, vs. 12, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

Have I been guilty of judging others? Of course I have, but having been on the receiving end of it more often than on the giving and knowing how it feels, I am ashamed forever having been a judge.

Romans 14:13-14 Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

I have noticed in a lot of cases that when a person has lost weight, or quit smoking, they, sometimes, become self-righteous, forgetting they, in their judgment, are opening a door for failure! Remember, don’t be a judge, love others and please God.

I rest my case.

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