“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
Two thoughts have struck a continuous drumbeat through my heart this week. One comes from reading about judgement in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship and the other brought on through a message heard at church about the destruction caused by inner circles.
If I deliberately exclude people from my life in dedication to my inner circle of friends, two things happen — I miss out on the work that God wants to do in me through others and, equally important, in my selfishness I cannot contribute to another’s life as purposed by God.
At times I have caught myself judging whether I had room in my life for more people. I’ve evaluated new relationships using selfish criteria. Do I have time for another friendship? Do we have anything in common? Will they fit with my other friends? Are they married or unmarried? Older or younger? Are they a christian or not? Do they live near me or not? The nitpicking list goes on.
A quote from Bonhoeffer’s book also stings, “When we judge other people we confront them in a spirit of detachment, observing and reflecting as it were from the outside. But love has neither time nor opportunity for this. If we love, we can never observe the other person with detachment.”
I realize that when I’ve been judgmental about people I’ve also been detached from them in my heart. I’m not remembering to love them as Jesus does. I’ve been completely disconnected from God’s original purpose for me.
Writing this, it all sounds horrible and I wish it weren’t so — but I am convicted because I HAVE been guilty of measuring relationships with a cruel judgement. Never thinking about how God might want someone in my life for a purpose. Never thinking that they might need a friend. Never remembering that God created me in his image, as his vessel through which he pours out his love.
“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” Ephesians 2:18-19
With Christ at our center we are no longer strangers and aliens. He is our level playing field — our great equalizer. I should be open to anyone who God brings to my life — at least willing to sit down and have coffee with them and see where it goes.
God has brought some truly wonderful people to my life. They aren’t like me but we have beautiful discussions about Jesus and his word and what he’s doing in our lives. I almost always walk away from our time together excited and thinking and learning about God. I gain new insights and understanding. Through our talks I see how differently they think than I do — but also see how much richer our time together is because of it.
Jesus, help me to always be open to new friendships. Help me to approach people with love and openness and acceptance. Help me not to judge them about where they fit into my life because I am a poor, self-focused judge. Help me to recognize when I do this and immediately stop and ask for your forgiveness. Help me to be an ambassador of your love, peace, wisdom, mercy and grace.