I had just finished putting my groceries in the back of the car. I turned to return my cart when I saw a woman walking toward the grocery store entrance. She was carrying a bunch of news paper flyers under her arm.
She dropped one.
Without missing a step she looked down at the paper she had just dropped and kept walking.
There it was.
An entire Walgreens circular laying for all to see in the parking lot and she wasn’t going to do a thing about it! She just looked and kept on walking.
I was disgusted!
I don’t understand people like her! My internal mouth began spewing. How hard is it to pick up something you dropped and throw it in the trash? People like her don’t care about anybody but themselves! Who does she think is going to pick that up?
I was on a roll.
People like her need to change their reckless behavior to make this world a better place.
And then I got hit.
It wasn’t by a car or a shopping cart. Words hit me upside the head.
People like you need to change your judgmental attitude to make this world a better place.
What? I didn’t see that coming. The problem was not with the lady. It was with me. I had critiqued her of her lack of concern and then went on to say harsh things in my head about her. I had lumped who she was with what she had done and called it not good.
I had judged her.
I had convicted her of a crime in my mind and sentenced her to be tossed into the pit of “those other people who do wrong things”. The reality is that I’m in that pit.
Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you.” (Luke 6:37 NLT)
Judging is a tricky thing. It seeps into our thoughts in such a sneaky way. Truth be told we don’t always know how not to judge. I mean it’s almost impossible to ignore blatant wrong doing. But where we take a misguided turn is when we haul the alleged “wrong-doer” into our internal court system and appoint ourselves judge over them.
It’s not their behavior that Jesus tells me to focus on, it’s my behavior and my thoughts.
It is possible to observe behavior that in fact is wrong and at the same time not judge the person(s) who do it. But it isn’t a natural thing to do. It takes redirecting our thoughts and reminding ourselves that we are not the judge of other human beings. Only God is. Our society has made provision for judging behavior that is detrimental to society but to judge another’s soul is something only God can do.
That’s the thing about life with Jesus. He teaches us that God is…well…God and we’re not. And then He gets us to reflect on our inside world, our heart and our thoughts and mind. The birth place of transformation and the resting place of His Spirit. He didn’t tell me to get everyone else to live right. He told me to live right and that when I did it would have a trickle down effect on the lives around me.
I was convicted in that parking lot that what was in my thoughts was the real trash that day.
So I walked over to the paper the woman had dropped and I picked it up and threw it away. But I wasn’t throwing away her trash. I was throwing away mine.