Friday, July 19, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Judge

The other day I stopped at a bookstore and there was a gentleman sitting at a table on the patio.  I gave him a cheerful greeting and a smile.  He glanced at me quickly and didn’t say a word.  My first thought was to call him a very unspiritual name (yes, even I have my moments). As usual, Spirit gave me the spiritual smack on the back of the head and gently said, “Karen, you don’t know what’s going on in his life.  He may be severely depressed and just barely able to function, he may have gone through something traumatic, lost someone, or he could have been so taken back that someone would acknowledge his existence that he didn’t know what to say.  Remember, there’s always a bigger picture.  Be careful with those quick judgments.”  Yeah, I know, but sometimes those judgmental thoughts just sneak right on in there before I can stop them.  There’s a saying: “You may not be able to stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can stop it from building a nest.”

We all have those judgments that just pop right on in there.  It’s what we do with them after they do their popping.  Do we expound on them, or do we allow Spirit to gently guide us back into alignment with the consciousness of love?

Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2)  Jesus makes it very clear that we are not to judge others, and yet how many of us do?  So many think it’s our job to cast judgment on others and to tell others what God thinks about them.  We all do it to some degree.  Even me, though I know that spiritual smack will follow! 

We judge people because they may not believe as we do, they may look, dress, or live in ways we don’t approve, or they may come from a different religion, culture, political viewpoint, or whatever.  Many believe it’s up to us to set them straight; to live up to the way we think they should be.  That is not what Jesus or any of the other great spiritual teachers throughout time have taught!

It seems that so many people who call themselves Christians have taken Jesus’ teachings out of Christianity.  I want to make it clear that I’m not making a broad sweep statement.  There are many wonderful Christians who do follow the teachings of Jesus and who walk the talk.  It’s the ones who are speaking such hate towards others that are doing more harm than good.  I don’t know how many people I have spoken with who say they want nothing more to do with God or religion because of the hypocrisy they see in those who say they are speaking for God yet spew forth such negativity. 

When people judge, gossip, or bad mouth other people, whether on the airwaves or in print, it is more of a reflection of them than it is of those they are speaking about.  The barometer that I use is that I ask if they are speaking words of love, peace, kindness, and compassion.  If not, then they’re not speaking for the God whose foundation is love who is everyone’s God.

I love the diversity in this world and I thrive on it.  I have friends from all across the world who represent this wonderful diversity and I love every one of them.  My friends are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, white, black, brown, red, gay, straight, Democrat, Republican, and many more representing all areas of this beautiful diversity in human beings.  They are the most decent, kindhearted, loving people I know.  I’m certainly not going to judge them because of our differences.  In fact, I embrace it and focus on what we have in common!  Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” 

There was a great YouTube video of Dustin Hoffman talking about how all his life he judged women by their appearances.  He even got teary-eyed when he mentioned his regret of all the great women he could have known if he would have seen past their looks.  I thought this was so inspiring!  How many of us miss out on the chance to meet some really wonderful people because we are sitting in judgment of our differences? 

It’s my sole responsibility to love all people unconditionally.  I may not be perfect at it, but I choose to follow Jesus’ teachings when he commanded us to love one another.  It’s all about the love, my friends.  All about the love.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen July 19, 2013.

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2 comments:

Rev. Joy Scudder said...

Rev. Karen, excellent article. It amazes me that so many Christians seem to forget the instructions of Jesus. Luke 6:37, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven..." and John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." KJV
Blessings and keep up the great posts!

Sharon Brooks said...

Forgiveness, widely talked, yet not widely walked, is nothing short of nourishment for an overburdened heart. Releasing me, as well as you from a place neither of us wants to be. In a word... freedom.
Within a compassionate heart, I notice you matter in every situation. This in itself is salvation, releasing me from something that would otherwise eat me up from the inside out.
By putting myself above no one alleviates digestive distress, therefore enables me to process this very large meal I've just been served, in a way I won't later regret.
Through the mirror of self recognition, I'm unable to think what you do is worse than what I do. That my hurt, hurts more than yours. And its through this thoughtful heart, I secure a safe path for both of us through the foibles of life, keeping us equally yoked... equally blessed.