“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 7:2 NIV)
Teaching our 15-year-old son to drive has been a learning experience – for him and me! In typical God-fashion, the lessons haven’t always been about driving. Only God could take an average street corner and turn it into a life-lesson seared into my soul. Here’s what happened on a not-so-average afternoon.
After taking short trips on side roads, I decided my son Josh was ready for the “big time.” So we headed to Costco after school on a main thoroughfare. Since I don’t normally drive at that time of the day, I was unprepared for the amount of traffic. Josh was doing well until the light turned red just as he was pulling up to make a right turn. Since traffic was heavy, he was already going slowly, but instead of stopping, I could tell Josh intended to keep going.
“Stop, Josh,” I said quietly as the car kept rolling.
“Stop, Josh” I said a little louder. The car kept rolling, although it did slow. In a split-second, I could tell Josh was going to turn right on a red and I could see oncoming traffic starting to move. Why wasn’t Josh stopping? I started to panic.
“Josh STOP!!” I yelled, and he slammed on the brakes.
“Josh, you’re freaking ME out!” I answered as we both sat there in shock. Josh explained that he thought I meant for him to slow down when I said “stop.” I didn’t have time to sort out his thought process on that one, because just then the light turned green and Josh turned right … legally and safely.
I told Josh I was sorry for yelling at him, he said he was sorry he didn’t listen to me and we were back on good ground. At least I thought so until seconds later a young guy who had been behind us at the light, pulled up on our left and motioned for us to roll down the window. Thinking there was something wrong with a tire, we did and he said, “Hey, if you are going to act like that, take your sticker off your car.” Then he sped off. Josh was shaken and I was just plain mad. I knew he was talking about our church window decal and I alternated between anger at his judgmental attitude and shame that someone might think badly about God because of a driving incident. But anger was the predominate emotion. I couldn’t stand that someone would judge me or my son without knowing anything about us.
I stewed over that the whole day, until God started speaking to my spirit about a judgmental attitude I’d had earlier that week. Something had happened at church that I let bother me. It wasn’t a sin issue, merely an oversight on someone’s part. But it concerned me. In fact, I had worked it up in my mind their lack of attention was wrong and I was going to tell someone about it. For days, I thought about how to say it and to whom. Then this happened.
I’m confident God allowed me to experience the bitter side of judgment so that I would see how hurtful it is. My judgmental attitude at church was clouding my love and compassion for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are serving God in wonderful ways and impacting many lives. I was convicted of my attitude, asked God’s forgiveness, and thanked Him for teaching me a lesson before I spoke any potentially hurtful words.
Jesus spoke these words to His followers, “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 7:1-2 NIV). I definitely experienced being judged, and it wasn’t pleasant. Nor was my judgment on others pleasant.
As I’ve thought about and prayed over this issue more, I’ve come to realize that I can still share my thoughts with those in charge at church (or anywhere else), so long as my heart and my attitude don’t contain a hint of judgment. But then again, I might not. I’ll definitely do an attitude check before letting any thought take root, or any potentially judgmental word come out of my mouth.
Dear Lord, I praise You for Your perfect, loving nature. I desperately long to be more like You and to see others with Your eyes of love and compassion. Help me to submit my thoughts to You. Please forgive my judgmental thoughts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
6 Habits of Highly Successful Christians by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues
Identify a time when you were wrongly judged by someone else.
How can you tell if your thoughts are judgmental or helpful?
What are some ways to guard our hearts and minds from being judgmental?
Read Matthew 7:3-5 below. How does taking the “plank” out of our eyes help us see clearly?
Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 08 June 2007.