“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:12
Let me tell another train story this week.
This story tells about a conductor on a train in Zurich. He started to check all the tickets on the train. As he checked the tickets of the various people on the train he felt more and more disturbed. Finally, he turned on the public address system and said, “Attention! Everybody get off at the next stop. You’re all on the wrong train!” On further investigation it was found that it was the conductor who boarded the wrong train.
Isn’t that the way life is sometimes? We hold opinions about others and form judgments. You’ve all heard of court cases that are labeled as follows: Stevenson versus The People, or Jones against Texas. Let’s be honest here: How many times in our own lives has it been as if WE were against something, where WE know how to run or build it better than the professionals? We have opinions about every bill in Congress, thinking YOU, are the only one who’s right, or YOU, against the company, or YOU against your family. Sounds realistic? You bet!
Whenever we are in a situation in which it’s all of them, out there, and only US standing here in the right, we need to examine the situation. Sometimes we may be wrong, and maybe the majority is right. Let’s always ask in prayer that we have the vision of the whole picture.
There is an ancient fable of a man who was condemned because he was so hurtful to society due to the fact that he judged so many people. He was brought before a judge and was condemned to seeing all other men and women only as skeletons.
If you think about that, it would keep you from judging forever because all of us would appear alike. There would hardly be any differences. We couldn’t hold our opinions, our prejudices, or our misguided ways if we saw everyone alike. But at the same time, it would take away the absolute joy of living and of seeing the variety of all of life. And it would take away the absolute joy of getting to the point where we realize that not all people have to be like us, or see things exactly like us. Maybe there are two ways to view a situation, and maybe there is another way to have an opinion on something.
There is a story about Sir Walter Raleigh when he was imprisoned. He was imprisoned for many, many years in the Tower of London. He decided that he would whittle away the hundreds of hours by writing the history of the world. He had about 200 pages written with his opinions of the history of the world when there was a commotion outside his cell window. He looked down in the courtyard and saw two prison inmates fighting. He looked at one and then the other and determined, in that moment, that he couldn’t decide who was right with what was happening under his own nose. How he could he possibly make decisions, opinions, or judgments about all of history? So he tore up the 200 pages.
We, too, have a history. We, too, have volumes that have been written about us in our own minds. You remember what Uncle Ed did to you when you were thirteen years old? You hold that thought in you. What you thought about that company you used to work for, that “awful” company, is held inside.
that “awful” relationship; it, too, is held inside. We hold these judgments written down in our personal history, regardless of how long ago it was.
In prayer we must ask, “Is this true?” Sometimes the answer from God will be quite different than the strong opinion held in our human mind.
There comes a time when we need to step back from our window, rip it up, and say, “I might not have seen the TOTAL picture. There might be more to this.” When we hold those judgments tightly, we take away our own peace. We rob ourselves. We lock ourselves up forever in the situation. We try to put other people in boxes, but what we do is put ourselves into a box. We shut the jail door, and on the other side of that door, is peace surrounding the jail. But we are locked into our own area of imprisonment.
I want to share some things with you that I found during my research about judgments from the smartest people of their day.
First of all, I’m going to take you to Chicago, Illinois in 1865. It is the day after the Gettysburg Address has been delivered by Abraham Lincoln. This appeared in “The Chicago Times.” They evaluated the Gettysburg Address and said, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, dishwatery utterances of a man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.”
In 1885 in Concord, Massachusetts, the home of Thoreau, they banned the book Huckleberry Finn as trash. They thought it was unsuitable for reading.
In 1929 the whole country of Russia blacklisted Sherlock Holmes material as disgraceful.
In 1931 China banned Alice In Wonderland because they thought it was sacrilegious to have animals talking as humans.
Many times the jail we are in is because of somebody else’s judgment of us. A part of us has accepted that judgment as true.
A six-year-old boy came home from school with a note from his teacher. The note said he could not return to school because he was too stupid to learn. That young man’s name was Thomas Alva Edison.
Another wonderful story about judgment was about Alfred Tennyson’s grandfather. Alfred Tennyson’s grandfather asked the young boy to write a piece of poetry for his grandmother’s funeral. The grandfather said, “I will give you ten shillings for writing this piece of poetry that will be included in the eulogy.” Tennyson wrote the piece as requested. His grandfather (in anger) handed him the ten shillings and said, “That’s the first thing you’ll ever get for your writing, and I can guarantee you it will be the very last.”
Look back on our own lives and see some of the silly judgments of others, accepted as true, and how we have allowed that one short situation in our life to rob us of our peace. Spiritually we cannot do this anymore.
The very best we can have from judgment in our human mind is this:
That we judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, for this is the way that God judges us. God judges us by our potential and what we can become.
It is true that others judge us by what we have done.
But you know the truth about you. You have not even begun yet. That’s why you’re still alive; that’s why you are in this body that is regenerating and becoming new. We have not even started yet.
There’s a new body and a new life we’re building. Yes, this past life has had great good and joys, and some mistakes and sorrow too—but it has only made us better. And we have not even begun yet. We are on our way; and are starting today. Every step we take, we walk with God. We will continue to make it a fabulous life journey. We’re not going to imprison ourselves any more by yesterday’s judgments.
A Russian proverb says: “When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes. When you leave, you judge him by his heart.”
Here is what Jesus Christ says about judgment: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24
John 8:1-11 is a great teaching of Jesus by example. It’s about the woman caught in adultery.
“Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded to us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
“They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
What does that mean that He wrote on the ground? We don’t know for sure; but perhaps, He was reflecting. Have you ever pondered over a point while playing with something? Let’s say you were at the beach or a sandy area. You think for a minute, and then you bend down, take your finger and just doodle in the sand. Maybe, this is what He did; or maybe He jotted their sins. We do not know.
“When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’”
Our judgment – It says more about us, than it does about the accused.
Longfellow said, “If we could only read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
There’s a Japanese proverb that says the same thing Jesus said. It says, “Search seven times before you suspect anyone.” Jesus said to “forgive seven times, indeed seventy times seven.”
Forgiveness, in today’s language – means release. It means unlocking the prison door, letting them out but also letting yourself out and accepting the waves of peace that come over you, and the love of God that will infill you in every way.
One of the best prayers that has ever been said is “Peace! Be still!”
When we get ourselves agitated, judgmental, and upset, say “Peace! Be still!” One of the main ways we become peaceful is through our judgments throughout the day (that we must let go by sending them to God who is the ultimate Judge). Give yourself the permission that says,
“My peace does not depend on others; it just depends on me.”
Say to yourself “Peace! Be still!”