Meet Joe—35, married, with a trio of adorable kids. He’s a paramedic by trade, and in his spare time serves as a volunteer firefighter. Even when he’s not saving lives, Joe is still “saving lives”. The Bible study he leads draws such a large crowd you’d think it was a Hillsong conference.
As humans, all we see are snapshots of other people’s lives. We are incapable of seeing things—and people—in full.
Then there’s Jeff—36, single, with a pet parakeet. He works part-time at the local supermarket, and spends his evenings fighting evil in the world . . . of Warcraft. These late night campaigns means he sleeps in—a lot. If church began at 2pm on Sabbath he probably still wouldn’t make it.
There’s no denying it—Joe is a winner. Jeff on the other hand? Let’s just say if you were to look up “loser” in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of a pitiful excuse of a man, and even he would look down on Jeff.
It really is a shame. No, I’m not talking about the Jeffs of the world. What’s disappointing is you and me, and our willingness to brand people as winners and losers so swiftly.
Snap judgements based on snapshots of people’s lives. It’s what we do, isn’t it—assume so much from so little information? Take Joe for instance. Dig a little deeper and you will find a man struggling with a gambling addiction. He also spends just as much time in the bar as the Bible.
And Jeff? Well, he’s actually fought in some real-world battles. War has claimed both of his legs, the hearing in his left ear, and a lot of close friends. It has also scarred him mentally, and he can no longer venture out into open spaces (agoraphobia). What a loser, hey?
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:2 NKJV).
Imagine if God were to judge us based on nothing but a few short minutes of our lives. That’s a scary thought, especially if He chose to focus on our weakest moments—an angry tirade, a lustful night in front of the computer, or a senseless shopping spree. Thankfully, God isn’t prone to swift, selective judgments (2 Peter 3:9). We shouldn’t be either.
It’s something to keep in mind the next time you see that mid-30s couple who you think “should’ve had children already”. Did you ever consider that they might be incapable of having children? Then there’s that “loser” who recently lost his job. What if he was fired for standing up for a colleague who was being mistreated?
As humans, all we see are snapshots of other people’s lives. We are incapable of seeing things—and people—in full. There is only One who can do this—“one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?” (James 4:12 NIV).
Linden Chuang is assistant editor of Adventist Record—digital.