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“Thou Shalt Not Judge” is a lesson I tend to learn over and over again.
The following experience happened to our family last year and still weighs on my mind:
“Here’s my money, Mom,” my daughter said, smiling as she handed me two large bills, “I want to give it all.”
“All of it?” I questioned, wondering if she wasn’t being too generous.
It was a lot of money to give a homeless person on the street corner, but who was I to say how she could or could not spend her allowance money.
My three kids and I were in a frenzy as our truck rolled to a stop at a red light, for there standing on the corner was a young man holding a “homeless” sign.
“Hurry!” I said, frantically reaching for the cold water bottle and money. “We may not have much time to hand it to him.”
With water bottle and two large bills in hand, I rolled down the window. As the window inched downward, I noticed the man was holding a cigarette in one hand.
“Oh, he smokes.”
“I don’t want to support his smoking habit.”
As these thoughts flashed through my mind, I made a conscious decision to withhold one of the bills and just hand him one bill with the water.
He was very gracious and kind, and I was left to wonder how I was going to explain my rash decision to my children.
We were quiet as we drove to the store, but my mind was racing.
“What just happened there?” I asked myself over and over again, trying to make sense of it all.
By the time we reached the store, I was beginning to regret my decision.
My regret became more intense as I glanced over my shopping list and saw the first item on the list: maple syrup. Maple syrup is my addiction. I use it to make cakes and cookies, candy and ice cream. I tend to turn to those treats to get me through stressful times. Yes, I NEED maple sugar.
“Just as he NEEDS his cigarette”, my conscience whispered.
My conscience was right. We each have addictions to overcome. Who am I to judge?
My mind was still racing as I tossed food into the cart. I had a plan in the making and knew I would have to hurry to carry it out.
On the way to the check out line I grabbed a card, one with jewel-toned houses and an array of boats, all confidently pointed in the same direction.
After making our purchase, I hastily wrote a message in the card as my kids bombarded me with questions:
“Why are we standing here?”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m hungry! Can we go now?”
“How much longer?”
“Are you done yet?”
I scribbled the last couple lines, stuffed the card in the envelope, and headed to the truck, taking my groceries and inquisitive kids with me.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, I explained my plan. I told them what I had written in the card, and that it was my intention to immediately return to the street corner to give the man the card, another water bottle, and the remaining money that had been withheld earlier.
“What if he’s not there?” someone asked.
“Then I’ll cry,” I immediately responded.
My heart raced as I hurried to the street corner.
My eyes searched the area.
He was gone.
He was gone, along with my chances of telling him that I was sorry.
He would never see the card I bought for him and the sincere message that was written inside:
“Hello again! We saw you earlier this morning…”
The card that was meant for him will now forever be a reminder to me of the lessons I learned that morning, lessons that I have been taught all my life, but am still trying to APPLY to my life:
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:1–5.)
“See that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually.” (Alma 41:14)
“Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7.)
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40.)
The light turned green. I accelerated the truck and, with a heavy heart, drove slowly home—the words “Judge not, that ye be not judged” echoing in my mind, and a renewed desire to give Him my all filling my heart.
Day 25 Challenge: The next time you feel tempted to judge someone, intentionally stop yourself and refrain from doing so. Rather, attempt to see things from their perspective.
This is Day 25 of my Write 31 Days series for 2017: 31 Days to an Authentic Life.
For an index of all the posts in the series, please click HERE.