But I heard this quote recently, “Prejudice is when you don’t see the human being anymore, you only see your concept of that human being,” and all the faces of all my judges flashed through my mind and I then wrote down in my sermon notes, “Make me not this, Lord!” Meaning, please make me the opposite of these prejudiced, judging people in my life who criticize me and disapprove of me.
And then it hit me.
If you have gotten a divorce anytime in the past twenty years for whatever reason, I am sorry for judging you for divorcing.
If you have left my former church anytime in the past nineteen years for whatever reason, I am sorry for judging you for leaving.
If you have sat on the sidelines at church and not served for whatever reason, I am sorry for judging you for not serving.
Because I have now done all of these things and so much more.
And, furthermore, if you have judged me or criticized me anytime for whatever reason, I am sorry for judging you for being prejudiced against me, for judging me. I am not your judge. And you are not mine.
Because, as it turns out, I realized that I feel sorrow for you. Because if you are judging me for being divorced, then that means that you have not accepted and understood that you are a great sinner as I am and that there is a forgiveness and grace that covers over all that both of us have done. You really must not get it yet. And you have a high wall around your heart that won’t let you truly see into the hearts of others. And you haven’t just hurt me, you are probably hurting others and you’re going to keep on hurting others (which saddens me so), but you are hurting yourself most of all.
So I have compassion for you, because you are jaded and you cannot see the words that Jesus has bent down in the dirt to write, and you must think you are better than me and better than others, and you will find out soon enough that you’re not better, that you’re just one of us.
But most of all, because when we judge, when I judge, when you judge, we are missing out on one of the sweetest experiences life has to offer…moving into a place of empathy with another human being when you catch a small glimpse of what it feels like to be someone else who has gone through something you’ve never gone through and allowing the beautiful grace of God to flow through you to them. As Leslie Vernick says, “If we lose our empathy & compassion for others, we are diminished as human beings & our darker selfish side will rule.” You are missing out on so much beauty and grace, and I feel sorry for you. So today I say that I am finished judging you back and I forgive you.