Tag Archives: judging others

How Dare You Judge Us!

Story of the Day for Wednesday August 22, 2012 

How Dare You Judge Us!

 

                    He was despised and forsaken by the people. A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. 

                                             Isaiah 53:3

 

On the great Judgment Day, when all stand before God, some in the teeming crowd began to raise their voices. They weren’t weeping with cries of shame or remorse. They were angry.

One of them shouted to those around him, “How can God judge us?”

“Yeah,” shouted a woman, “what does God know about the kind of life and suffering we had to go through?” The woman lifted her arm to reveal the brand of a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp.

“Our persecution was unimaginable. We endured beatings, torture, and death!”

A black man stepped forward. “What about this?” He lowered his collar to show an ugly rope burn around his neck.

“Lynched!  For the crime of having dark skin.” He spoke bitterly of the injustice he and his people had suffered: betrayed by Head Hunters, forced into slave ships, separated from family, and forced to live without recourse to justice.

 

Soon everyone had their story to tell. They spoke of the shame of being born an illegitimate child. Lepers painfully recounted what it was like to be an “untouchable” and to live isolated and lonely.  A businessman told his story of financial success – only to be betrayed and defrauded by his friend and business partner, and to die broke.

A movie star edged closer to the center of the complaints. The crowd sneered at her as one who didn’t know what it was like to suffer misfortune at the hands of God.

But the movie star won them over. Through tears, she recounted her life of celebrity. Everybody wanted to know her, but she could trust no one. Wherever she went, she was hounded by crowds pleading for autographs, paparazzi chasing her every move and selling every unflattering photo to the scandal magazines, who created false or misleading headlines of her personal life.

“How would you like it,” she asked, “if, whenever you try to sneak away for a short vacation, you are swarmed by those who could care less about invading your privacy?”

The crowd murmured their approval, and included her in the group.

 

The indignant crowd chose leaders to approach God’s throne and present their grievances. They chose a Jew, a leper, a black, and an untouchable from India. On behalf of the others they presented their case before God.

“How dare you judge us! You sit here removed from the temptations and sufferings we endured on earth, and now you have the gall to judge us for our anger and failure and retaliation against those who hurt us?” Another added, “You don’t know what it’s like to endure what we have on earth.”

There was silence while the leaders awaited God’s response. Then someone stood up before the throne. He stretched before them his nail-pierced hands.

And, in that moment, they realized that God had already served his sentence.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Reclassify him as a Dim Bulb

Story of the Day for Saturday June 30, 2012

Reclassify him as a Dim Bulb

 

                             For in the way you judge others, you will be judged.

                                                                  Matthew 7:2

 

My friend Lee Ressler once told me a humorous story:

Last fall, Lee had ordered some fishing flies for himself and his friend, whom we’ll call Jim. When the order came in, Lee invited Jim over to pick them up.  Jim knocked on the door, but Lee was outside around the side of the house. He shouted to Jim to go in, while Lee went inside from a side door.

Jim stood in the entryway — accompanied by a large, shaggy dog. Lee offered Jim a chair, while he plopped down on his sofa. While he got out the flies, the dog laid on the floor at Jim’s feet.

Lee was a little peeved. Not only was the dog stinky, but he felt guests should at least ask permission before bringing their dogs inside someone else’s house.

As the men continued to talk about fishing flies, the dog jumped up on the sofa next to Lee and he could no longer control his annoyance. He commanded the dog to get off.

His friend never apologized nor reprimanded his dog for jumping on the furniture.

Lee was inwardly fuming and offered his friend some lemonade so he could stalk into the kitchen to regain his composure. The nerve!  But as he got up, the dog trotted into the kitchen with him. As soon as Lee opened the door, the dog poked his nose into the fridge.

That did it!

“This dog is hungry!” Lee hotly told his friend. “If you want to keep a pet, you’ve got to take care of ’em.”

Jim was puzzled. “My dog? I’ve never seen this dog before. I thought he belonged to you!”

 

After hearing the story of Lee and Jim’s silent criticism of each other, I knew this would be a perfect story about judging others falsely, and asked Lee if he could scribble down some notes on the incident for me.

A few days later he handed me his notes. I thanked him for his trouble, and as we sat down, I scanned his notes.

“This is great,” I told Lee, “but, in order to make the story more vivid, I could use a few details. What kind of dog was it?”

“I don’t know.”

Oh well. Probably a mutt.

“What color’s the sofa?”

“Don’t know.”

“How could anyone not know the color of his own sofa?” I thought to myself.

“Well, what’s your friend’s name?”

“I don’t know, but I think I could find out.”

Lee always seemed like such an intelligent guy, but I was just beginning to reclassify him as a dim bulb, when he clarified, “This incident didn’t happen to me; it happened to this guy I know who lives west of town.”

 

Now I know why Jesus came to earth to cover us in grace; we’re hopeless without it. But, before I tell you stories about not judging others, maybe I’ll work on it a little more myself.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

 

“If People Could Just Be…”

Story of the Day for Thursday April 12, 2012

“If People Could Just Be……”

                    In whatever way you judge someone else, you are condemning yourself, for you who pass judgment do the same things.
Romans 2:1

When I was a young pastor, the wife of a man I’ll call Mike Poganski phoned to say her husband was being transferred to a larger hospital in another town. Mike had already been in the local hospital with a serious condition, so this was not good news.

I jumped in the car and drove to the larger hospital. After getting Mike’s room number at the receptionist’s desk, I rushed off in search of his room.

I peeked into his room and noticed no one in the first bed. I knocked on the door and the man in the second bed behind the curtain invited me in.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I said. “It’s the Sunshine Committee coming to check up on you.”

When I saw Mike I did a double-take.  Mike is a big man with a beard. This man was tall and wore a beard, but he was much younger.

Suddenly it dawned on me. When Mrs. Poganski called to say Mike was in the hospital, she didn’t mean her husband, but her son, Mike Jr. I wish people would be more precise about these things because it would eliminate needless confusion.

Luckily, I am quick at piecing things together and know how to roll with the punches. I had never met Mike Jr., but if his mom wanted me to visit him that was fine with me.

“Just talked to your dad yesterday. Have you heard how he’s doing today?”

“No,” he said, “I haven’t talked to him for over a week.”

That grated me. Your dad’s in the hospital and you don’t visit or even give him a phone call? That’s just not right. But I tried not to show my annoyance.

“Well,” I said, “I hope he starts getting better soon.”

“Yeah.”

Mike Jr.’s unenthusiastic response immediately told me he either had a falling out with his dad or he was lacking in his social skills. But I try not to judge people, so I let it go.

“Sure hope your dad gets better soon. We need him for the dartball tournament. He’s one of the best throwers on our team.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. Two weeks ago, he got two doubles and a home run.”

“Oh.”

It’s not my place to criticize, but Mike Jr. was just not a very good conversationalist. I couldn’t get him to open up about anything. So, after asking him about his condition and how he was doing, I asked him if he would like me to have a prayer for him.

“Um . . . sure.”

I prayed, and as I was saying goodbye I noticed his plastic hospital bracelet didn’t say Mike Poganski Jr., but had someone else’s name printed on it.

I’m not the kind of guy who gets easily upset about trifles, but I think I need to write a cordial, but firm, letter to the hospital. When someone’s name ends in Jr., the receptionists should be trained to mention this. And nurses should always double-check the names on the bracelets so they don’t misidentify their patients. If people could just be a little more careful about these things it would eliminate costly or embarrassing mistakes.
                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Convicted By a Cell Phone

Story of the Day for Friday December 9, 2011

Convicted By a Cell Phone

                 For you will be judged by the standard of judgment you use to judge others.

                                                      Matthew 7:2

 Ed McLaughlin was the general manager at KGO radio in San Francisco, when, in 1972, he was transferred to New York City. His friends in San Francisco warned Ed about New Yorkers. He was always a laid-back, easygoing sort of guy, but now, they told him, he would have to be less trusting and more alert to potential dangers.

Within the first week of moving to New York, Ed was dining at the Pierre Hotel, with his attaché case on the floor under the table. He looked up and spotted a man walking toward the door with the attaché case.

Ed jumped up and ran to the thief, grabbed him by the lapels and warned him, “If you put that attaché case down right now I won’t break your nose.” The man immediately put the case down and disappeared.

Later, when Ed returned to his hotel room, he opened his attaché case . . . and discovered it was not his!  McLaughlin phoned his friends in San Francisco, “Y’all sure were right about New Yorkers. I’ve been a New Yorker for less than one week and I’ve already mugged a guy!”

 

I’m glad Mr. McLaughlin has a sense of humor and can own up to doing the very thing he suspected others would do to him.

Admitting we’re guilty of the things we criticize in others is extremely difficult. We notice it in other people easily enough. Who complains about another person’s big ego more than the one who is a little full of himself?  Have you ever noticed that dishonest people do the most complaining about other people’s dishonesty?

 

I was forced to admit my own inconsistency when I read a recent survey. Drivers were asked to list their top complaints of other drivers.

Know what the number one complaint was? It wasn’t tailgating, slow driving, or failing to use a turn signal. The number one complaint was drivers who talk on their cell phone while behind the wheel.

It certainly annoys me.

But, here is the interesting part.  Most of the people who listed “talking on the cell phone while driving” as their number one complaint, admitted that they, too, use the cell phone when they drive.

For some reason, I dislike it when drivers talk on their cell phone, but I do it too.

 

Jesus prefers to show us mercy over judgment. That’s why he urges us to do the same. It keeps us from passing judgment on ourselves.

A little girl was watching her mom do the dishes at the kitchen sink. As she gazed at her mother’s long, dark hair she noticed that there were several strands of white hair.

“Mommy,” she asked, “why are some of your hairs white?”

Her mother sighed, then explained, “Well, every time you do something naughty and make me sad, one of my hairs turns white.”

The little girl was quiet for a moment. Then she asked, “Mommy, how come ALL of grandma’s hairs are white?”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Wonderful People

Story of the Day for Saturday October 1, 2011

The Wonderful People

                    Don’t judge by how things appear. . . 

                                                                   John 7:24

 While waiting for her flight, a woman bought a book and a package of cookies and took a seat in the airport terminal.  As she was reading she noticed the man sitting next to her began fumbling with her cookies.  He opened the package and helped himself to one.  She couldn’t believe it!   Not knowing what to do, she reached over and grabbed one of her cookies and started to eat.  And then it happened again, he grabbed another cookie.  The woman was not about to let a stranger eat all her cookies so she grabbed another one.

With one cookie left, the stranger broke it in two, gave her half, and walked away.

Still fuming, she reached into her purse to get a tissue and . . . there was her unopened package of cookies.

 

As a matter of fact, I have developed a cool theory based solely on judging by outward appearances.  I think I can tell how liberal or fundamental a congregation is by the shape of the cross on their church.

If you see a church with a big, fat cross: they’re probably fundies.  They usually don’t paint their cross, but if they do, it’s black.

The loosey-goosey liberal churches have really skinny crosses.  They’re usually made of metal.

If the cross is real ornate, that means the church is probably real stodgy and ritualistic.

And so on.

I know I’m not supposed to judge churches simply because of the kind of cross they put on their church.  But I do.

 

Do you do that kind of thing?  Do you ever find yourself judging the character of someone based on the length of their hair or how they dress?

What do we do about that?  After just confessing my habit of judging the theology of congregations on the basis of their church crosses, you’re probably not looking to me as the ideal source for advice on this topic.

I’m not the ideal source, but here is what I do.  I haven’t learned to stop making judgments about people based on appearances.  Some day, I hope I will.  But until then, what I do is learn to recognize those areas where I tend to draw hasty conclusions, and then go out of my way to prove my initial judgment false.

 

Today I picked up a hitchhiker. Hitchhikers, as we all know, are bums who are either too lazy to work or losers who lost their driver’s licenses from too many DUIs.  (Are you getting the picture here?)  So, my goal is to prove how wrong my assumptions are.

Guess what?  I’m discovering that most hitchhikers are kind, or down on their luck, and are humbly grateful for the ride.  The guy I picked up today broke his back and is strengthening it by riding his bike.  But it hurt so bad that he had to leave it at a car dealership and hitch a ride the rest of the way to town.

You wouldn’t believe the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure to meet since I started treating people this way.

                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Panhandlers at Train Stations

Story of the Day for Thursday September 22, 2011

Panhandlers at Train Stations

 

                  Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case . . .

                                                               Psalm 43:1

One of San Diego’s regular transients was at the train station when John took his stepson, Adam, to catch his ride. Buddy is a panhandler and is well-known to many at the train station. He’s not very fragrant, but neither is he persistent, and never ever rude.

Buddy asked John if he had any change so he could buy a cup of coffee.

“Buddy, I’m sorry, I just don’t have any money on me.”

With John ruled out as a contributor, both Buddy and John looked to Adam. Slightly embarrassed, Adam said he didn’t have any money either.

The three exchanged small talk and then John and Adam walked on.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Adam told his stepdad, “He tried to pick my pocket.”

“Are you sure?”

“While you two were talking he came over and bumped into me and I‘m sure he tried to reach into my pocket.” Then Adam said, “This pocket, right here in my jacket.”

Adam reached into the pocket and . . . pulled out a crumpled dollar bill that hadn’t been there before.

 

In 1798, Fermin Didot, a French printer, created a process by which he could print books without using moveable type. He created a printing plate called a “stereotype.” The printing surface for a stereotype was called a “cliché.”

Walter Lippman used the printing term, stereotype, in 1922 as a metaphor to describe how we often view members of a group as duplicates – all having the same characteristics.

 

Following our train of thought, this is the perfect opportunity for me to become a scold and warn against stereotyping anyone. But experts say we can’t help stereotyping – we put everything into categories. When I tell my wife, “Hmm, this looks like a good place to look for huckleberries,” I have engaged in stereotyping.

But it’s not simply that I can’t help stereotyping people; sometimes I don’t want to avoid it. I have told others that the Japanese are very polite or that the Inuit are a hospitable people. Are their exceptions to my statements? Of course. I’m sure at least one Apache warrior was a coward, and there’s one Nebraskan farmer who isn’t friendly. All the same, I intend to cling to my stereotypes and praise the whole lot of them.

 

When, however, we label everyone in a group with a negative trait, stereotypes become sinister (and even the word “sinister” – which means “left-handed” is a stereotype.) What makes negative stereotypes so dangerous is that they are often motivated by a desire to feel we are above others. Other groups are denigrated, in other words, in order that we may feel superior to them.

If you have a better way to go about this, I’m open to suggestions. But, until I learn to view people without categorizing them, I intend to praise groups for positive traits I observe, and try my best not to assume anyone has a negative trait simply because they belong to a certain group.

Not even panhandlers at train stations.

                                                                   (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

“Pass the Bread, Fred”

Story of the Day for Wednesday September 14, 2011

“Pass the Bread, Fred”

                   Get rid of all . . . hypocrisy . . . 

                                                                 1 Peter 2:1

 Dr. Foerster’s patient was fully conscious as the German neurosurgeon performed brain surgery to remove a tumor. As Dr. Foerster touched one region of the brain, however, his patient erupted in compulsive pun making. The patient was unable to control his wild word associations.

Arthur Koestler, who mentioned this incident in his book, The Act of Creation, calls Foerster’s Syndrome the inability to refrain from making puns.

I mention this because my college roommate was a jovial guy, but it was obvious that he got dropped on his head when he was a child, because he had Foerster’s Syndrome in a big way. He didn’t learn and retell the puns of others; he was the sole originator and distributor of endless groaners.

Once, one of the college administrators told him bluntly that punning was the lowest form of humor, but this indirect plea for mercy didn’t dampen my roommate’s enthusiasm for punning in the slightest.

 

Paul, from Elkhart, Indiana, once wrote in to Reader’s Digest about a family dinner. His parents, Fred and Adah, invited Paul and his three siblings for a Sunday meal.

Everyone, except for Adah, was in a silly mood and began rhyming their requests.

“Please pass the meat, Pete.”

“May I have a potatah, Adah?”

“I’d give the moon for a spoon.”

After a while, Adah had heard enough. “Stop this nonsense right now!” she shouted. “It’s Sunday, and I would like to enjoy my dinner with some good conversation, not all this silly chatter.”

Then, in a huff, she snapped, “Pass the bread, Fred.”

 

The most annoying aspect of criticizing others is when I find myself dropping into the same kind of behavior. When I criticize people for being late for appointments, I will soon find that I’m late for an appointment.  Lately, I confided to my wife that I thought someone was a gossip. I took a minute before I realized that I was gossiping about someone else who gossips.

 

Now that I’ve recognized my unfortunate habit of acting like a hypocrite, it has, somewhat, tempered my judgmentalism toward others.

The next step Jesus wants me to learn is to be calmer about others – even if I’m never guilty of doing what they do. After all, others have some vices I don’t. For example, I relish the fact that I’ve mustard the strength to resist the impulse to ketchup to my old roommate in the punning department. I just don’t have the hot dog personality he has.

(I can hear my old roommate now, saying, “Marty, let me be frank with you – you’re not very punny!”)

                                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

He Might Be Talking To Me

Story of the Day for Friday September 9, 2011

He Might Be Talking To Me

                     It is time for judgment to begin with the house of God.

                                                                 1 Peter 4:17     

            I don’t repent when I listen to sermons on repentance. In fact, they usually put me in a sorrier spiritual state.

            When preachers rail against the wickedness in the world, it makes me wish everyone else would repent. After hearing all the lurid and revolting examples of evil, I feel as if I’m not so bad, by comparison.

            In other words, sermons on repentance tend to make me unbearably self-righteous – which is the worst sin of all.

 

            In his memoirs, An American Life, Ronald Reagan recalled a state dinner at the White House. French premiere, Francois Mitterrand and his wife were the guests of honor. After Reagan, Mitterrand, and their wives finished greeting the other guests in the East Room, they all went to the State Dining Room. The proper protocol was for everyone to stand until Nancy Reagan led Francois to her table and President Reagan led Mrs. Mitterrand to his.

            Nancy and Mr. Mitterrand headed for their table, but Mrs. Mitterrand stood still – even after the butler motioned for her to be seated. She whispered something to President Reagan in French, which he didn’t understand. The guests remained standing.             President Reagan quietly told her, “We’re supposed to go over there to the other side.” Mrs. Mitterrand whispered something back, but he didn’t understand what she was saying.

            An interpreter then approached Reagan and said, “She’s telling you that you’re standing on her gown.”

 

            I’m pretty good at spotting sin, and what I mean by that is I’m pretty good at spotting your sin. I’m not so good at realizing when I’m the one stepping on the gown.

 

            In 2003, in the small town of Forest, Ohio, travelling evangelist, Don Hardman held a revival service at the First Baptist Church, and, in Mr. Hardman’s words, “We had a right good crowd of folks.”

            He was preaching on repentance.

            Shortly after he stared preaching, a storm rolled in. As the thunder began to rumble, Hardman told the congregation that, in the Bible, God’s voice sometimes sounded like thunder, and that God was speaking to them tonight. Hardman looked heavenward and said, “That’s right, God! We hear you!”

            And then a bolt of lightning struck the church. Hardman, who was wearing a cordless mike, had sparks of electricity go from his belt buckle up to his microphone.  There was a blue aura in the building as the lights flickered on and off and the sound system exploded. Heavy clay tiles from the steeple feel off and damaged a car in the parking lot.  

            No one was hurt, and Mr. Hardman continued to preach on repentance until a church trustee came in and said the steeple was on fire.

 

            When God tells the world to repent, it’s so hard to realize he might be talking to me.

                                                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)