It must be that judging others comes naturally to us as humans, or perhaps is a habit easily acquired. Because it is no work to judge someone else, really. It is so simple and effortless, we can do it sitting down. We can even judge others without personally engaging with the subject matter or people involved. We can do it without research! It only takes a headline to brew our heated condemnation.
When I’ve judged others, I’ve felt like I’ve worked, though. I’ve felt good about the “balance” I’ve set aright with my views. I’ve felt justified in my dismissals. I’ve felt the emotional rush of my well-crafted opinions. Yes, there is satisfaction in judging others that would lead me to believe I have accomplished work. But I shouldn’t be deceived that there are rewards that extend beyond my own gratification. Truthfully, even those are fake rewards – a deception that breeds destruction.
The true rewards come when I open my heart to others, when I love first instead of judge, when I engage in a posture of grace. This is no easy habit, but it is worthy work.
I was reminded of this when I read an old Facebook status of mine posted 8 years ago, a quote from Deitrich Bonhoeffer. It struck me then and fresh again today.
Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others, we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as ourselves.
Lord, help us love.
It’s such a small word and, on the face of it, so simple.
In the gospels, Jesus tells his followers to ask. And he doesn’t say it just once.
Ask for provision. Ask for help. Ask and it will be given to you.
The promise of ASK is that you will RECEIVE.
You almost get the impression that Jesus wants to answer our prayers!
I have over the years, but more purposefully lately, put this small word – ask – to the test, to take up Jesus’ offer. I’m trusting him that this isn’t a mind game. He isn’t holding out the carrot just so I’ll pull the cart.
To ask is to trust. I want to trust the Lord. I will ask.
Though I’ve had increased eagerness to ask, I’ve also been surprised to find within me a resistance to asking – a desire to say instead, I’ve got this one, or this doesn’t require God’s attention, or I don’t want to…
I’ve needed help and instead of asking, I’ve chosen to worry, I’ve chosen to wallow. How strange.
I’m not sure what the barrier is to getting to the asking, but now I’ve got the word written big on my wall and in my heart: ASK.
I’ve been asking.
And I’ve discovered a few important things:
- The first is that the Lord cares about the minutiae. I have very specifically asked and the Lord has very specifically met my needs, ranging from a just affordable car repair and a surprise financial gift to cover the rest, a healed and healing friendship, plus inner peace, joy and increased faith, to name a select few. This is uniquely thrilling to consider that the Almighty God is so intimately aware of our needs and ready to meet them.
Let me clarify, this is no prosperity gospel. This is not a get rich scheme. The Lord gives us [more than] enough – a sustainability of life and faith.
- The second is that I have sensed more than ever the Lord’s closeness. To ask is to acknowledge that he’s within earshot. Even closer! He’s hears our heart-whisper. He interprets our groaning. He reads my journal! That’s OK, I’ve asked him to. Even the instant peace of placing our circumstances in his hand is a beautiful answer to prayer because it is to know he is close.
- Asking also means that you necessarily have to let go of pride. If you’re not asking then you must believe that you do not need to. This is the wandering we are prone to.
In the gospels, even the skeptics asked Jesus questions, though they had the wrong motives and evil intent. Jesus still answered. He still offered a worthy challenge, a beautiful nugget of truth even as he acknowledged their hardened hearts.
Eventually, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, those who should have known him best, being unable to trap him nor to receive the life-giving truth he offered, STOPPED ASKING. Matthew 22:45 is, to me, one of the most heart-breaking verses in the Bible, “…from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
- If you ask questions of the Lord, he will ask questions right back. Your faith with be tested by what he asks of you. Because this is not a one-sided relationship. The purpose of the exercise is not to “receive a sign” to make Jesus prove himself to you – as if he needs to #clapback – but to ask in faith believing in the Lord’s love for you and power to answer.
Do not be afraid to ask. Take Jesus at his word. Ask and you will receive. Don’t stop asking. Keep asking. Ask. Just ask.