Negating the art of judging

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” — John 8:11
The woman who was brought to Jesus had been “caught in the act” of adultery, and everyone knew she was guilty. They probably also knew that the religious leaders didn’t care about her but were just trying to trick Jesus. So how did Jesus respond? Notice how he did NOT respond. He did not further shame the woman publicly. Nor did he debate the religious laws of the day. He didn’t even ask, “Where’s the man who was with her?”

Jesus took his time. He bent down and wrote on the ground, even as they kept ques­tioning. When the time was right, Jesus stood up and shifted the focus from the woman to her accusers: “If you are without sin, go ahead and start throwing stones.”

The woman’s accusers drifted away, one by one. And ­finally, when only the woman remained standing there, Jesus did not shame her further by lecturing her. He simply said to her, kindly and clearly, “Go and live a changed life!”

Neighbors can do bad things. A coworker can embezzle thousands of dollars from his business. A teenager can get drunk, wreck the family car, and need to get bailed out of jail. A young dad can cheat on his children’s mother.

How do we respond? If you are without sin, go ahead and feel superior, shun them, put them down! But if we too are sinners, let’s do as Jesus did.

Prayer: “Jesus, Son of God, you have seen it all. Forgive us our misbehavior and judgmentalism. May we love and encourage each other as you love and encourage us.” (Al Mulder and Bonny Mulder)
[Disclaimer – I do not know the people who wrote this brief devotion, but it came to my box from someone I trust as a Christian. My son, who is also my pastor, reminds us often not to quote people or take advice from folks we don’t know. Truth be told, most devotions are copies of someone else’s effort that went before us. There is nothing new under the sun.]

The reason this struck me is that I had been writing a column on mean spirited, judgmental people and wondered how many had studied this passage carefully. Did you notice that Jesus didn’t respond right away? He just bent down and started writing in the sand. Good lesson here. Don’t respond in fresh anger. You’ll often regret it.

There are those want to lead, be thought well of, looked up to, and even revered, that have no idea what true leadership is. It is certainly not based in fruitless judgment. “You are in. You are out. You cannot be a part of our group. You and your friends are not a part of the ‘in crowd.’ Only those that accept my gifts can be in my group. Do you remember what I have done for you?” Folks, you don’t buy leadership roles. You earn respect, experience, and how to work with people as you become a leader.

It is helpful if you are qualified, know the subject matter, or be willing to learn, and are following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Judgmental attitudes are so sad, and yet, it happens every day as we live. And, sadly, it often happens in church families and in school staff offices. Would Jesus be happy about this standard and the many issues of human judgment based on personal needs and wishes? No, He would not.

A dear lady came to me this week in tears because she did not get asked to serve, or appointed to a committee, about which some of her friends were excited in her church.

She had been judged and found inadequate. The actions of this supposed leader hurt her and she was being buffeted by Satan over the matter. She, in reality, was a far better worker and more faithful than many of those that had been asked to participate.

Quick word of advice – After more than 60 years in fruitful ministry – Just serve. You don’t have to be chosen or appointed by the powers that be. Just serve. Witness to your next door neighbor. Help someone you meet at the grocery or cleaners. Offer to work a shift in the nursery. Bus workers and teachers are always needed. Study. Enroll in a class to learn to write the king’s English where people can read it. Bake goodies to share. Love on folks that need that love. If you are busy in true, heartfelt service, you’ll soon forget what committee you are not on and it won’t matter nearly as much.

God knows and He cares. Lessons are being taught – Both good and bad. Learn not to judge others and especially when the outcome always paints you as the hero and the other guy as the villain.

Everyone should get an opportunity at winning from time to time.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at 409 781 8788, or
brendacannonhenley@yahoo com


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