It upsets me to hear sly judgments in conversations.
“He would drive me crazy! I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with her husband.”
“I’d never be able to handle all those kids – that’s why we stopped after one.”
“I don’t know how you can spend so much time cleaning – I’m glad I have a housekeeper.”
“Your crazy family makes me feel relieved that mine lives in another state.”
We don’t even know we do it.
I try not to do this, but I know I’m guilty. When I hear someone talk about an aspect of her life that is different than mine, I imagine myself in her spot, and it seems so foreign, so against how I currently do things, that sometimes I can’t help but share how happy I am that I don’t have that experience.
I’m so glad I’m not you, because your life sounds awful/confusing/hard/weird, and I just couldn’t deal.
It’s what we’re thinking, if not what we’re saying. An alternative “I’m glad my life is different” isn’t much nicer.
Humans can’t help but compare. Most of us regard others with interest, and sometimes we just enjoy the company, but other times we judge. She’s a mess. My life is better. I’m better.
In God’s eyes, we are all the same. All created lovingly, all loved equally. We are made uniquely and given different lives. We all have our own hardships. What one experiences, another passes on that experience. None of us is oblivious to hardship or difficulty, and each of us has our own perspective on what makes life hard or easy.
For some, hardship may look like having five children. Or a large house to clean. Or an insensitive husband. Or difficult family members. For others, these things are simply what rounds out their life experience. Not something that needs to be judged by others, or looked upon harshly. It’s just what life looks like. God is working in each of our lives through our experiences to make us who he intends us to be.
We also all have the potential for joy and fulfillment. We are all sinners, and face demons that threaten us each day. We are all offered the chance for salvation. For some, that chance may be hard-won. For others, we may be born into it. And others may have had it and threw it away.
Compared to God, we all fall short. We are not superior to each other. We are each unique, but uniquely human and fallible. All the same, all in need of the Holy Spirit to guide us and the blood of Jesus to save us.
We might be glad not to suffer the hardships of another. Turning that gladness into concern, prayer, humility – the things God wants us to cultivate in our character – is a better option. A nicer option. A godly option.
In the end, we are nothing without God. Focusing on him and his strength to help us navigate this life is always better than judging others.
Dear Lord, Stop me when I judge. Help me to see others through your eyes. Thank you, Amen.
The Story of the Tax Man and the Pharisee
He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”