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Posts Tagged ‘being judgemental’

There I was, about to enter the local supermarket when I noticed some mangoes on display nearby. I reached for a roll of plastic bags, tore one off and opened it, ready to put my mango in. Just then, a little lady much older than I am (!) asked me if I would mind passing her a bag, so I quickly handed her my own. A few moments later, this same little lady came up and handed me a tiny, square piece of cardboard, with something green pressed onto it and covered in clear plastic.

IMG_20180206_120843375‘It’s a real, four-leaf clover!’ she explained. ‘I want you to have it because you were so kind to me. I gave one to my granddaughter when she was doing an exam and she got 97%!’

Not wanting to disappoint her, I joked that I might have to sit for another exam. But later, I wished I could have thought of something a little more helpful to say.

The next day, I was back in that same supermarket. My husband had enjoyed his mango so much, I decided to buy a couple more. This time, the checkout person had trouble scanning some of my purchases and had to repeat the process. I paid my bill and headed off, but something made me look closely at my docket. Sure enough, I had not been charged for my two mangoes.

What a moral dilemma! At first, I thought, ‘It was her mistake—she was rushing too much. Probably I’ve been overcharged on other occasions anyway!’ But then my conscience got the better of me. I went back, showed her the docket and pointed out the problem.

‘Oh, thank you so much,’ she said. ‘That’s very nice of you—you’ll have good karma all day now!’

I blinked a few times, paid my money and turned away, wishing yet again I could have thought of something suitable to say in the moment.

As I reflected more on these two interesting events, I experienced various emotions. I was touched by these ladies’ responses. Both of them could have just thanked me (or not!) and said or done nothing more. I was annoyed at myself for not knowing what to say in return. But I also felt sad that these women seemed to set such store by four-leaf clovers and good karma. And probably they would represent a large percentage of the general population too, as far as such beliefs are concerned.

I don’t want to act or say anything in a graceless, judgemental way, but I’m sure there’s more that affects my life and the outcomes of my words and deeds than four-leaf clovers and good karma. I believe the Lord knows us intimately and watches over us, loving and caring for us, through all the good and bad times in our lives.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. … You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. (Psalm 139:1, 4)

So I’ve decided it’s much better to opt for that loving, gracious hand of God on me each day, rather than trusting in good karma or four-leaf clovers. How about you?

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pexels-photo-461252There we were on Christmas day, waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. I had put some cherries out for us to enjoy and offered one to our three-year-old granddaughter.

‘These are lovely, Maxine. Would you like one?’ I said.

She gazed at them for a moment, then came out with this profound statement.

‘I don’t like cherries because I’ve never had them before!’

Now that obviously made complete sense to her. After all, surely if her parents hadn’t given them to her before this, then those funny red things with stems must be yucky! I remembered too the response of one of our own children, when faced with eating something they hadn’t tasted previously. ‘I won’t like it!’ they would say, obviously fearful of what lay ahead.

Sadly, I suspect I can be like Maxine at times, or that child of ours.  Often I can be very picky—but more so with books than food.  I may find myself turned off by a cover I dislike or the quality of the paper or the size of the print. I don’t mind small print, but I do object when a large font is used and those lines are spread so far apart and the margins are so wide, making that book too insubstantial for me and not worth the money I paid for it! Yet some smaller books I own have turned out to be absolute gems, such as Henri Nouwen’s Out of Solitude or Eugene Petersen’s The Wisdom of Each Other.

Much sadder than pre-judging books, however, are the times I have pre-judged people because of their appearance or something different about them. The biggest lesson I learnt in this regard occurred around twenty-five years ago when I met a young woman at a prayer training course. At first, after discovering she was blind, I avoided her. I felt I would not know how to relate to someone who could not see. And, to my shame, I was reluctant to put myself out to help her. Yet God drew us together—and that young woman taught me so much about myself, about courage, about perseverance, about relating to those who suffer from any degree of vision impairment.

A few years later, I found myself at another course where most participants were from a different part of the Body of Christ. ‘They won’t be able to teach me anything much,’ I decided in complete arrogance. Yet their kind acceptance, attentiveness and intelligent conversation turned out to be a wonderful, healing gift from God for me.

Now I’m hoping there aren’t too many others of you out there like me who are practised pre-judgers.  I hope you taste those cherries or look carefully at those smaller books before making up your mind. I hope you listen to and accept others, however different they are. And I hope I do too more and more. But above all, if Jesus Christ is someone unfamiliar to you, I hope and pray that, in the coming year, you may not pre-judge or write him off too quickly but instead take time to get to know him, to experience his amazing love and to taste his absolute goodness for yourself.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

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Jo 17‘They look so joyful!’ I commented rather cynically, while watching some people singing a hymn on TV about, of all things, the joy of the Lord, all the while with decidedly doleful expressions. Yet, even as I opened my mouth, I felt judgemental. Perhaps they were tired. Perhaps this was the tenth time they had sung this same hymn. Perhaps they had to get it perfect for this particular TV program. And perhaps they did mean what they were singing, but simply didn’t convey that in their faces.

‘They look so joyful!’ I commented again, as I watched various well-known singers, actors and TV personalities perform Christmas carols at the Sydney Carols in the Domain on TV.  And yes, most did indeed look joyful, smiling and with eyes glowing, as they sang with great gusto.

‘But do they really believe it?’ a certain even more sceptical member of our family asked.

‘Well … they might,’ I replied, remembering how some of the performers at least had publicly declared their faith in God in past times. ‘We don’t really know, do we? As for those people in the audience, they must love singing carols, if they’ve bothered to turn up—and they might truly love God too.’

‘If you go by the statistics though,’ was the response, ‘chances are only a small portion do have any real faith in God.’

I had to admit that probably was the truth. Yet, whether all those people believed what they were singing or not, I reflected, at least these carols that honour the coming of Jesus were being sung in our city and broadcast far and wide.

The next day, when I sat down to read my Bible, I found I was up to 1 Samuel 16, the account of how Samuel seeks to decide which of Jesse’s sons the Lord wants as the next king of Israel. As soon as Samuel sees Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab, he thinks he must surely be the one God had chosen. Yet in verse 7, we read:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Hmm. Don’t judge by appearances. What a timely reminder! Yes, our cynical comments might have been true—but then again, they might not have!

We can often see how people are feeling by looking at their faces. We may notice, for example, whether someone is happy or frustrated or angry or sad or discouraged or embarrassed. And it’s important to be observant of others and try to discern where they are at. But sometimes we can jump to the wrong conclusion. Sometimes we can assume so much, merely by those outward appearances. Sometimes we can judge so easily—without knowing all the facts.

It’s true only God can know what is really going in someone’s life and heart. The Lord looks way beyond the outer surface, to the very core of a person. But I’d like to think I could become more like him in this regard in 2017 and look beyond those outward appearances more often. Perhaps then, the world would be a more grace-filled place, don’t you think?

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