There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:12 NIV
I saw her from across the room and I had her stereotyped and labeled by the time she came over to greet our family. Her "type" was easy to label. She had short spiky hair and wore large earrings. Without a trace of makeup and wearing a fairly masculine outfit, I was pretty sure I knew what kind of person she was. As she smiled and stuck out her hand to give us all a firm hand shake and a big welcoming smile she said something that pulled the rug out from under my prideful, judgmental spirit; "My husband is the pastor here and we are so glad you're visiting with us today."
Oh. Uh oh.
So, she was not only NOT involved in a same-sex lifestyle, she was, indeed, the pastor's wife.
I had done it again. I had judged and this time I had judged a sister in the Lord! The shame I felt for days (and even as I write this) is just so awful that it breaks my heart. I'm brutally aware of the way I look at people from the outside and how I quickly put them in boxes, give them labels and judge them. This is not always a bad thing in that it's certainly fine to identify someone by what they do ("Sally, teaches 1st grade at the school on Main street.") or where they are from ("Gordon just moved here from Boston, but he was born and raised in Bolivia.") But, when those labels cause us to treat someone differently (and in many cases, badly) that's when we know we are being judgmental.
The Lord calls us to be like Him. In being like Him it's helpful to remember the verse in 1 Samuel, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." (NIV) It's hard when you just see someone from the outside, but trying to get to know their heart without focusing on their outward appearance is the tricky part.
If we really want to overcome being judgmental, the Lord will honor that. Let's ask Him for eyes that see people the way He does, and hearts that reach out and love the way He wants.
It takes time to become judgmental so it may take time to become non-judgmental. I'm working on this issue in my own life so I don't have any fix it fast tips. What I do know is that the Lord honors our desire to walk with Him, be like Him and live according to His Word. He knows how hard it is to not be judgmental, but if we ask him to help us change in a spirit of willingness with a teachable spirit, he will be faithful. Let's ask him to help our judgmental hearts become hearts that can see people they way He sees them.
Father God, I know it must grieve Your heart when I judge people by how they look, dress, act or speak. By doing that I am essentially doing Your job in trying to know someone's heart. Please help me overcome this sinful habit. Please, Lord, give me a discerning heart that can see people the way You do. Amen.