Monday, March 11, 2013

Judgmentalism

I'm a judgmental person. I confess this to my great shame. I have brought it before the Lord on many occasions and, by His grace, I've seen growth - but it is a struggle I've had for as long as I can remember and I expect to have it for a long time to come.

This blog entry is therefore written primarily to myself, though it may also benefit others who struggle similarly.

I have judged just about everyone I know for one reason or another, including my wife and my dearest friends. It should thus come as no surprise that I judge my donors as well.

I have judged donors for not being faithful to give as they've said, for not getting back to me as they'd promised and for not calling their friends as they'd committed to. I have judged them for talking too much and for talking too little. I have judged their marriages and their other relationships. I have judged them for how their children have behaved and I have judged  them for how their pets have behaved. I have judged them for what their homes have looked like and how organized their kitchens have been. I have judged donors for their reactions to my presentations, my stories, my financial "ask" and (wretched man that I am!) I have even judged them for how much they have given.

It scares me that, upon reading that last paragraph, I can think of much more to add. If anyone ever asks me why I continue to cling to the cross of Christ daily, perhaps I can simply show them this blog entry.

Why am I writing all this out? Two reasons:
  1. That I can be reminded of my desperate need of God's grace.
  2. That I can be reminded of the basic truth below that I so easily forget.
The truth: I ought never judge someone until I've walked a mile in their shoes.

Here are practical examples I've seen over the years of that truth in action:
  • One couple who didn't give monthly as they'd committed to had failed to pay their electric bill more times than they'd failed to support me.
  • One couple who didn't call their friends as they'd committed to told me that the wife had just been diagnosed with cancer. They still called for me the following week.
  • One couple whose marriage was falling apart had no solid, Bible-teaching church nearby. (I have a solid, Bible-teaching church five minutes away and I STILL fail to love my wife as I ought.)
  • One older donor who talked too much has a husband (also her pastor) that doesn't listen to her. I did.
  • One donor who talked too little grew up with parents who rarely said a kind thing to him, so he learned to keep his mouth shut. The fact he spoke at all to me was a huge step of faith for him.
  • There are too many examples to list regarding kids. You simply can not know about someone's child-rearing situation - even if you had a dozen kids of your own. Every child and every situation is unique.
  • A donor whose house is messy spends two nights a week serving at the local food pantry.
  • A donor whose kitchen was unorganized regularly invites homeless people for meals.
  • And what can I say about people giving...?
And [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." (Mark 12:41-44 ESV)
The point is that I've wrongly judged people for all manner of reasons - having never walked a mile in their shoes. The fact is, though, that I could never walk a mile, let alone a step, in someone else's shoes. But Jesus did:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)
And right there is my hope: despite my wickedness - my ongoing wickedness - I can draw near to the throne of grace with confidence, and there I will find sweet mercy and rich grace.

If you've read this far, would you check in with me from time to time? I need others to ask me about the judgmentalism in my heart - and I also need others to remind me of the mercy and grace that awaits me when I repent (1 John 1:9)

If you're looking for help in this area too, stick around. My hope is that the lessons I learn will flow out into this blog as well.

Let's grow to love mercy together.