Folly of Judging Others
Only God Knows
Topic : Judging
The Cookie Thief
A woman was waiting at an airport one night.
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book, but happened to see,
That the man beside her, as bold as could be,
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between,
Which she tried to ignore, to avoid a scene.
She read, munched cookies, and watched the clock,
As the gutsy cookie thief! diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, If I wasnt so nice, Id blacken his eye!
With each cookie she took, he took one, too.
When only one was left, she wondered what hed do.
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought, Oh brother,
This guy has some nerve, and hes also rude,
Why, he didnt even show any gratitude!
She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate,
Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
Then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise.
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes!
If mine are here, she moaned with despair,
Then the others were his and he tried to share!
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!
Folly of Judging Others
For some reason, it is easier to jump to negative conclusions about people than it is to assume the best abou them. When we do this, we ascribe to them bad intentions and evil purposes that may not be true. We also reveal something about ourselves, for the faults we see in others are actually are reflection of our own.
In his little book Illustrations of Bible Truth, H. A. Ironside pointed out the folly of judging others. He related an incident in the life of a man called Bishop Potter.
He was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, he came up to the pursers desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ships safe. He explained that ordinarily he never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from his appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person.
The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, Its all right, bishop, Ill be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason!
It was F. B. Meyer, I believe, who once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances.
At a recent gathering of seminary professors, one teacher reported that at his school the most damaging charge one student can lodge against another is that the person is being judgmental. He found this pattern very upsetting. You cant get a good argument going in class anymore, he said. As soon as somebody takes a stand on any important issue, someone else says that the person is being judgmental. And thats it. End of discussion. Everyone is intimidated!
Many of the other professors nodded knowingly. There seemed to be a consensus that the fear of being judgmental has taken on epidemic proportions.
Is the call for civility just another way of spreading this epidemic? If so, then Im against civility. But I really dont think that this is what being civil is all about. Christian civility does not commit us to a relativistic perspective. Being civil doesnt mean that we cannot criticize what goes on around us. Civility doesnt require us to approve of what other people believe and do. It is one thing to insist that other people have the right to express their basic convictions; it is another thing to say that they are right in doing so. Civility requires us to live by the first of these principles. But it does not commit us to the second formula. To say that all beliefs and values deserve to be treated as if they were on a par is to endorse relativisma perspective that is incompatible with Christian faith and practice. Christian civility does not mean refusing to make judgments about what is good and true. For one thing, it really isnt possible to be completely nonjudgmental. Even telling someone else that she is being judgmental is a rather judgmental thing to do!
Before we are too harsh in judging those scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day, lets stop and look at ourselves. All too many Christians today go to church to find fault, to gossip, and to criticize. Warren Wiersbe, in his book Angry People, wrote,
An incident in the life of Joseph Parker, the great British preacher, illustrates this tragic truth. He was preaching at the City Temple in London. After the service one of the listeners came up to him and said, Dr. Parker, you made a grammatical error in your sermon. He then proceeded to point out the error to the pastor. Joseph Parker looked at the man and said, And what else did you get out of the message? What a fitting rebuke!
Only God Knows
We sometimes criticize others unfairly. We dont know all their circumstances, nor their motives. Only God, who is aware of all the facts, is able to judge people righteously.
John Wesley told of a man he had little respect for because he considered him to be miserly and covetous. One day when this person contributed only a small gift to a worthy charity, Wesley openly criticized him. After the incident, the man went to Wesley privately and told him he had been living on parsnips and water for several weeks. He explained that before his conversion, he had run up many bills. Now, by skimping on everything and buying nothing for himself he was paying off his creditors one by one. Christ has made me an honest man, he said, and so with all these debts to pay, I can give only a few offerings above my tithe. I must settle up with my worldly neighbors and show them what the grace of God can do in the heart of a man who was once dishonest.
Wesley then apologized to the man and asked his forgiveness.
The following story appeared in the newsletter Our America:
Dodie Gadient, a schoolteacher for thirteen years, decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught about. Traveling alone in a truck with camper in tow, she launched out. One afternoon rounding a curve on I-5 near Sacramento in rush-hour traffic, a water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping.
Leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, Please God, send me an angel preferably one with mechanical experience. Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and, without even glancing at Dodie, went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy, and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump.
The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she read the paralyzing words on the back of his leather jacket: Hells AngelsCalifornia. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, Thanks so much, and carry on a brief conversation. Noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, Dont judge a book by its cover. You may not know who youre talking to. With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck, and straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared.
Given half a chance, people often crawl out of the boxes into which weve relegated them.
At a pastors conference in Spokane, Chuck Swindoll told of being at a California Christian camp. The first day there a man approached him and said how greatly he had looked forward to hearing Dr. Swindoll speak and his delight at now finally being able to realize that desire.
That evening Swindoll noticed the man sitting near the front. But only a few minutes into the message the man was sound asleep. Swindoll thought to himself that perhaps he was tired after a long days drive and couldnt help himself. But the same thing happened the next few nights, and Dr. Swindoll found his exasperation with the man growing.
On the last night the mans wife came up and apologized for her husbands inattention to the messages. She then explained that he had recently been diagnosed as having terminal cancer and the medication he was taking to ease the pain made him extremely sleepy. But it had been one of his life-long ambitions to hear Dr. Swindoll speak before he died, and now he had fulfilled that goal.