The Walls of Judgement and Criticism

A Picnic in Vermont By Paul Sample

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Church Supper

This is Vermont at a small town, country church picnic. The kids play ball in the background while lunch is still being served to the adults. They relax together with the familiarity of people that have known each other a long time. Now picnics are supposed to be fun and enjoyable. But most of these folks have very dauer faces and few are talking. What’s wrong with this picture?

A very fashionable, young lady has just arrived on the scene. She lifts her dress above her knees exposing a shapely leg as she steps into the church picnic arena. Her sleeveless dress, gloves, pocket purse and hat reveal a lady of fashion in contrast to the dowdy church matrons. The men all notice. Their heads turn and eyes roll. One man points. The women “sit tight” with scowls on their faces. They are not pleased that the attention of all their men is turned in her direction.

Is criticism and unspoken judgment behind these scowls? “Who does she think she is?” “What kind of a woman would wear those clothes to a church picnic?” “What is she doing here?” “Look how she’s distracting our men?”  Could all these questions be rolling in their minds without speaking them? They are so busy looking, thinking and internally criticizing that no one greets her or brings her into their circle. They have only a chilly reception for her.

And what about our visitor? She came to be noticed, not to “fellowship”. Perhaps her mind is rolling too. “Look at all these old fashioned women!” “They all look old, and dowdy. No wonder their men aren’t looking their way.” “I never want to look and act like these ladies!”

Judgment and criticism, especially what is unspoken only serves to build walls. You can’t see the walls in this picture but you feel them. How different this picture would be if the church ladies had greeted our friend, invited her to join them and took a genuine interest in her life. How different this scene would be if the young lady attracted no attention and began to enjoy and understand these hard working farm ladies.  How often have WE criticized an author without reading their book? Or perhaps we’ve passed judgment on a speaker without listening to what they have to say! How many invisible walls exist because of our internal judgments?

Jesus once gave this advice- “Judge not, lest you be judged.” WE cannot see the heart and mind of one another. Only God can do that. Open your mind and heart to accept others as they are and watch the walls come tumbling down. Then we’ll experience the richness of diverse relationships that God intends for us.

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