Back in the day I used to know this girl named- well lets just say Stephanie. Stephanie lived in my neighborhood. There was a group of us that would always hang out and Stephanie wasn’t one of them. She was different. She wore really short shorts and cropped tops usually showing most of her bra. Her long blond hair was always hanging down the middle of her back and her face was hidden somewhere beneath all of the makeup. I remember my friends and I would talk about her a lot. Things usually like- “I can’t believe she is wearing that. Who does she think she is? I can’t believe she smokes…. that’s so wrong. She’s really bad and we shouldn’t be associated with her. So glad we’re not like her.” Words like these were exchanged for a whole year between me and my friends. But one day we stopped seeing her around. We didn’t think much of it until we met another girl who used to be friends with her who told us what happened to her. Stephanie had moved away because she was a foster kid. Apparently she would stay with a family until they got sick of her and then she would be shipped off to live with someone else. Most of her life she felt unwanted. When I heard this I remember feeling sick to my stomach. Here I was judging her without knowing anything about her. Without knowing her at all.
“Judging others is a blindfold. Judging others is a blindfold that blinds us to our own grime and blinds us to the GRACE which others are as eligible and entitled to as we are.” – Voskamp
Everyone has traveled their own road. Everyone has a story to tell, pain they have had to suffer, and life experiences that has shaped them one way or another.
Matthew 7:1-5- ” 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. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your (sister’s) eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your (sister) 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 (sister’s) eye.”
Phew! Girls! Where is your heart? Is there someone that you may be presuming assumptions upon because of the way they look, because of their attitude towards you, because of the choices they have made and all of the outward things your eyes may see?? Ask yourself do you know their story? Do you know them at all? Or are you just sizing them up to be the very thing you want them to be in order to make yourself feel better about yourself? Have you looked at your own heart lately?
“Do you hold other people to a standard of perfection instead of letting them all be held in the arms of grace?”- Voskamp
Oh sweet grace. We can rejoice because we are covered by GRACE!! We can rejoice because they too are covered by GRACE!! I am dancing and singing with my arms outstretched because of who I am in Christ! The more I believe in His love for me the more I am able to love everyone else regardless of who they are or who they seem to be. We are called to love and we are ALL entitled to grace.
And then there are those of you who find yourself on the other side of it. You feel alone and isolated because you have been accused of being a certain way. Or other girls have their opinion about you because they are only looking at your outward appearance and not taking the time to really get to know your heart. Maybe you’re the one who has had to travel a dirty road leading you to a pain so deep that the only thing you know to do is to inflict pain onto others. Maybe you’re hurting others because you yourself are hurting.
There is hope for you dear friend. “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”- 1 Samuel 16:7
The Lord sees your whole story and sees the very depths of your heart. He is lifting up your head, staring into your eyes and carrying through the weight of each day. You are not what everyone else says of you… you belong to Jesus and He says that you are His child! You are His friend. – John 15:15 You are justified and redeemed. Rom. 3:24 You are a fellow heir with Christ. Rom 8:17 You are a temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 9:19 You are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him. 1 Cor. 6:17 You are a new creation 2 Cor. 5:17 The list goes on and on. Who cares what others say about you… who does Jesus say you are? The one who knows everything about you actually calls you one with Himself! Hold on to this truth and be careful to not find yourself judging those who judge you.
In whichever situation you find yourself in, go to Jesus. May he open our hearts to our own sin and dig out the filth that has been piling up needing to be plucked out. I pray that pride will fall and shame will be thrown to the ground. I pray our eyes be taken off of ourselves all together and placed on the cross. I pray we live each day with kindness on our lips uplifting one another, encouraging one another and loving each other because we have been given kindness and love when we do not deserve it ourselves. May we not find ourselves assuming the worst in someone but may we find ourselves always seeking to understand. “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord: keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil….” Psalm 141:3-4
I wish I could go back to that little neighborhood where all my time was wrapped around my friends like my feathered bangs wrapped around my head, and Stephanie sitting on her front porch with a cigarette between her fingers. I would do things a little differently. My hope is that I would walk up to her and say hi. I would tell her my name. I would sit down next to her and maybe ask her questions about herself. I would try to get to know her. I may even risk being associated with her. After all- Jesus was associated with sinners. The tax collectors, the drunks, the prostitutes……hmmmmm….. even me.
I was no better than Stephanie. I am no better than you. We are all just children in need of Jesus.
“When this life ends we will all see each other for what we really are. There will be surprises. One of those surprises will surely be how ill-willed our judgements were. Another will be how much suffering we caused others through wrongly judging them. Yet another will be how often we were guilty of the very thing we judged another for”. – Anonymous