i’ve been spending more time with my friend Annette and her baby Chantal these days. We share a lot of things to each other about our family, our culture and our opinions and perception of things. As we come from such different backgrounds, there’s always something new to learn about each other.
this question just came to me again as i reflect on the things i’ve thought and shared out loud with her about cultures and people, most of the time talking about the differences in the Western with our Asian culture; they’re mostly my thoughts and not necessarily facts.
was i being too judgemental? why did i think like that?
this question came about the 1st time when ayl and i had a bad encounter with our neighbours on Christmas day itself. there was a car parked right behind us, blocking our exit and there was no other way out unless the driver moved his car. what else are we to do? there was no note or number to call so like what we usually do in Malaysia, we started to honk. it was really loud, and we waited for 5 – 10mins in the cold, but no one came. what next? as we continued our honking, we heard someone shouted really loudly from the apartment opposite. it was unintelligible coz it was in Slovak (so we didn’t know it was because of us); after another loud press on the horn, a man appeared at the balcony and shouted loudly at us in Slovak with his fist and disappeared quickly in. ayl and i were shocked!! and we felt sorry too to be causing so much racket in the middle of the day, but we couldn’t understand a word from the guy till a passerby interpretted for us – ‘baby sleeping’, what’s more, we’re stuck in this spot in the cold! as we considered for a few mins to either wait some more in silence or go back into the house, the driver finally came and removed his car. both ayl and i glared at him… 😛
needless to say, we were quite upset over what had happened. we felt really terrible for causing so much trouble on Christmas day; but at the same time, i felt intimidated as well. my blood started to boil all of a sudden and questions started going through my mind that night.
why did he have to shout? why can’t he be more civilized? how rude is that? why couldn’t he see we were in a spot? what else were we supposed to do? are Slovaks so bad tempered and ‘uneducated’?
this went on for a few days as i was quite upset over the incident. then come one day as i was pondering about this again and comparing mental notes with what facts that Annette has shared with me about Slovakia and its history during communism (Slovakia declared their Independence only in 1993), God showed me how i had judged too quickly, how i didn’t stop to understand first before i started to form negative opinions of these people. guiltily i confessed and repented. i would tell myself again and again now, to ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’.
a few days later, ‘Our Daily Bread’ devotional taught on Judging – how timely for me.
January 9, 2009
To Judge Or Not To Judge
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READ: Matthew 7:1-21
Judge not, that you be not judged. —Matthew 7:1
What better way to tell people to mind their own business than to quote Jesus? People who seldom read the Bible are quick to quote Matthew 7:1 when they want to silence someone whose opinion they don’t like. “Judge not, that you be not judged” seems like the perfect response.
In context, however, the passage indicates that we are indeed to judge; we’re just supposed to avoid faulty judgments. Furthermore, our judgments are to begin with self: “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye,” Jesus said (v.5). He then said, “Beware of false prophets” (v.15). This too requires judging—we need to be able to discern truth from falsehood.
Jesus used the metaphor of fruit to give us the proper criteria for judging. “By their fruits you will know them” (v.20). We are to judge people (including ourselves) by the quality of the fruit they produce. This fruit cannot be judged by earthly values such as how good we look (v.15). It must be judged by heavenly values—the fruit of the Spirit produced within us—love, joy, peace (Gal. 5:22).
Our tendency is to judge by appearance. But God judges by what we produce, and so should we. —Julie Ackerman Link
They truly lead who lead by love
And humbly serve the Lord;
Their lives will bear the Spirit’s fruit
And magnify His Word. —D. De Haan
Be slow to judge others and quick to judge yourself.