‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.’ (Mt. 7:1)
I saw three energetic boys—aged about 6, 8, and 10—as I was walking down the aisle in the airplane. I hoped that I wouldn’t be seated in front of them, but I was.
As soon as we were in the air those boys started kicking my seat. I put my head through the seats and quietly asked them to stop. When that proved ineffective, I stood up, turned around, and gently asked them to stop. They would be still for five minutes and then the commotion would start again.
Were there any parents around? Good question. Their dad was sitting right across from them. What was he doing? He ordered first one and then another Bourbon and Coke. Then he took a nap.
Throughout the flight I was playing the Judgment Game. Judged the man. Judged his lack of parenting. Judged his drinking and napping. Judged where those boys were going to end up.
About two hours into the flight, someone tapped my shoulder. It was the dad. He said, “Can I talk with you?” I nodded. He said, “I’m really sorry about my boys. I know they’ve been outrageous. I know I’ve been out of it. We’re going through a tough time. Yesterday was their mother’s funeral.”
At that moment I felt so small, so foolish, so unkind, so unfaithful. I felt ashamed not because I got irritated, but because I had been judging that man and his boys.
There is too much judging going on around us and within us. Others don’t need judgment from us, and we don’t need judgment from them. None of us ever knows the burdens, anxieties, and worries others carry around. Contrary to how it may seem, most people are trying to do the best they can most of the time.
Jesus said, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.” I encourage us to listen to Jesus by refraining from playing the Judgment Game. If any judgment needs to happen, trust Jesus to take care of it.
- When have you unfairly judged someone else? Have you ever felt “small” like I did when that dad told me what his family had just gone through?
- When have you been unfairly judged? How did it feel? How did you respond? Having been unfairly judged, did that give you any more compassion for others?
- Do you judge yourself fairly and kindly, or without mercy and harshly? How do you think Jesus would like you to judge yourself?