“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-3 (CEB)
It all started with the coupons. You know the ones–spend fifty dollars and get twenty-five dollars off. It sounds like a good deal. I mean, who doesn’t like a bargain? I had two of these coupons. And, lo and behold, it was the last day to use them. My boys had outgrown all of their fall and winter clothes from last year, and their sizes are such that passing down pants from one to the other is no longer an option. They needed some new duds, and I had the coupons.
Thirty minutes later at the Gap Factory Store, I was standing in line with a pile of clothes that would make a Black Friday maven blush. A sinking feeling began to grow in my gut. My boys bolted from the store–fearful that their notoriously cheap mother was going to implode when the “total” button was hit. I took a deep breath, clutched my coupons to my chest, and smiled at the cashier.
Two hundred dollars later, I sat in the van as waves of guilt washed over me. What had I done? How could I be so irresponsible? Think of all the children in the world who are under-clothed! Think of the food that money could buy for a family in need! My kids don’t wear name-brand clothes. Why didn’t I go to Old Navy instead?
The guilt lasted awhile. My husband was very nice about the ridiculous expenditure, but I couldn’t let it go. What was wrong with me?
I decided to ask God the answer to this question. I think he laughed and said, “Where do I start?”
The truth of the matter is, I’m not adverse to spending money. In fact, my husband and I just returned from a week in London where I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a cashmere red and tartan cloak.
The real issue, God reminded me, was not the money (although I should probably work on being more intentional with that). Had I walked into an off-brand store and spent the same amount of money on the same amount of clothes, I wouldn’t have felt bad at all. It was the Gap that was the issue, and my complete and total disdain for what I perceive to be capitalistic elitism.
In short, God told me I’m a snob. And, he’s right. I do look down my nose at name-brand wearing, nice car driving, professionally coiffed people. I somehow think that my bargain-brand t-shirts and ugly cheap shorts make me a better person. In essence, I judge people on their outward expenditures rather than understanding their hearts.
I condescend to call others condescending. And that, my friends, is irony.
It is no coincidence that I find myself reading these words written by the apostle Paul today:
This saying is reliable and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I’m the biggest sinner of all.” 1 Timothy 1:15
The truth is, we’re all guilty of something. I’m guilty of judging others. I’m also guilty of neglecting the needy, being self-centered, pride and laziness. The list most likely could go on and on. However, in spite of all of my failures as a person, God continually shows me mercy and offers up his grace.
He does the same for you. You just need to accept it.
Tomorrow morning, when my youngest zips up his Gap sweater jacket, I will remember my judgmental nature. I will give a wry smile and nod my head in acceptance of the lesson God is teaching me. And then, I will accept his grace that allows me to go forth and proclaim his Word despite my overwhelming human nature.
Blessings and Peace,