Friday, March 1, 2013

Judge Much?

By Julie Gernand
“…but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.” 
-Isaiah 11:4
I’ll be the first to admit it. I am often swift to judge others.          

How often do you fall into the “guilty” category when it comes to making hasty decisions about those around you? Do you decide before you’ve gotten to know someone - or even before you’ve talked to someone - if that person’s clothes, style of speech, or personality make them “good” or “bad” in your eyes?

I heard an amazing story yesterday on the KLOVE radio station. (94.3 FM in Chicagoland area. Tune in. It’s pretty fabulous). The entire article can be viewed here.

I’ll give you the “cliff notes” version below:

A man named Art was driving in his car with his wife. It was a terribly snowy day, and Art saw 18-year-old Jhaqueil hiking down the side of the road. The couple stopped and asked the teen where he was headed. He told them he was on his way to a job interview. When Jhaqueil told Art and his wife his destination – a thrift store about at least 6 or 7 miles away – the kind couple decided to give him a lift. Impressed with the boy’s determination and spirit, Art gave Jhaqueil his phone number and told him to give him a call if this opportunity didn’t work out.

Turns out that the store had already hired someone else.

Art gladly gave Jhaqueil a job at the Cajun restaurant he owned in Indianapolis.

After Art posted this story on Facebook, 20,000 people have “liked” this story, and 5,000 have shared it. Many have sent money to Jhaqueil and his struggling family. The boy has lived in and out of homelessness and poverty with his two siblings for the past several months.

I don’t know about you, but something stirred inside of me when I heard the story of Art and Jhaqueil. I just don’t know if I would have done what Art did. I pray that I would, but I also know of my sinful tendency to ignore those around me who appear less-fortunate.

Would you have taken the time to get to know Jhaqueil and his story? Or would you have passed him by in your warm, cozy car, wondering why someone would appear so “foolish” as to march along in the cold?

This story reminds me of a great parable Jesus once recited.

Luke 10:25-37
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Wow. Go and do likewise. This is how Jesus leaves the story with these folks who claimed to be experts of the law! Through loving the Lord with our whole being and thusly loving our neighbors as ourselves, we shall live in the true glory of the Lord forever. What an amazing promise!

I think that the joy that Art’s actions brought to Jhaqueil and his family brought a little bit more of the everlasting joy of the Lord’s kingdom to our lowly, ragged Earth.

And I think that a little bit of Heavenly joy reaches us each time any one of us actively loves upon someone else.

Want to truly grow to be like Christ each day? Then try to see the world through his eyes, for he does not judge unfairly:

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. 
– Isaiah 11:3-4

This prophecy from the book of Isaiah shows us that unlike human kind, our Messiah is not deceived nor does he judge by outward appearances.

We are not and never will be perfect people, but we should strive to live like the One who lived perfectly, Jesus Christ. Like the Samaritan, He picks up the frail, broken sinners that we are and heals us of our failings. Like the Samaritan, Jesus pays for our healing and salvation - but not with earthly coins, with the shedding of His very blood. Like the Samaritan, Jesus looks past outward appearances and desperately loves all people – looking past social status, worldly wealth, and personal foibles.

And I want to live like Him.

Lord Jesus,
We are so sinful. So often we judge others before we know them, and we fail to help those in need. Remind us of your command to love our neighbor, for each person we will ever encounter is indeed our neighbor. We pray that our love for you would spill over and bubble up so much that it would spread to everyone we meet. Help us to live in your love and promises daily, striving to like Christ.

Amen.

How does the parable of the Good Samaritan strike you today? How can you live out the just character and love of God today?


[Authored by Julie Gernand]

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