Judge Not…


download (1)I have noticed, in my brief stint on earth, how people love to judge you and form opinions about the type of person you are. For awhile, as an avid red wine enthusiast, I used to post pictures of myself on Facebook trying different Cabernets, Pino Noirs, Malbecs and Merlots to name a few. My hope was that other red wine drinkers would be inspired by my posts and share some of their favorites as well. It didn’t take long before being a red wine drinker became my entire identity to the point where my wife advised, “You need to stop with all the wine posts because that is all that people think you do!” How sad? How narrow? It seems social media has morphed into a breeding ground for judgment and criticism. Some folks are angry with you for appearing to enjoy your life and, God forbid, posting pictures of yourself having fun. Other folks want to pick a fight with you concerning your views. Don’t even mention politics! Even more strange, certain people feel quite indignant that a fellow human must be exaggerating their good times and should post a more shitty, realistic view about their present situation. Again, how narrow? How sad? What is it about people that has led them to this place of criticism and harsh judgments? Why won’t they choose to judge not? 

I think the only logical explanation for the overflow of judgments is that the world and its systems has worked over the masses to the point where people are judging themselves so negatively that they can’t help but judge everyone else as well. People have been trained to search for the wrong in themselves and following a natural course, see the wrong in others as well. People judge where you work; the type of work you do; where you live or don’t live; the type of car you drive; how you dress and on into infinity. Folks just love to find out your faults, your weaknesses, so that they might feel just a little bit better about themselves. Further, those judgments are fraught with generalizations that fail to take into account the human being behind the actions. And all the time, beneath the judgments is a person that does not feel good about themselves. You wouldn’t be so quick to judge if you didn’t feel so judged yourself. In its basic essence, you tend to give out what you are inside. Judgment of people is a harsh reality festering in the heart of the one doing all the judging. You and I cannot possibly know what is going on inside another person; their motives; their reasons; their why. All we can do at best is look on the surface and form a few opinions. In this, when we judge other people, we are wrong. Judging another person has never led to improvement in a person, but instead only serves to fracture and break up the relationship. Judgment brings out cruelty in people. It offers the ever false promise of maybe feeling better about ourselves. Yet, we will never feel better about ourselves by pushing others down, no matter how justified we may feel. The way you persuade that old heart of yours is by building others up. You feel better about yourself when you hand out a little empathy, a little compassion coming from a place that knows how easy it is to get screwed up in life and how many times you have been there yourself. Sometimes what people need most from you is a pass. A great man once said, “Love sees more but is willing to see less!” A close friend of mine once remarked, “Don’t look at people too closely!” In other words, what people need most is love and a lot of forgiveness, not judgment. 

It may surprise you to know that our great God is not a fan of judgment. The reason for the law of the Old Testament wasn’t to condemn and criticize people, but rather to establish a standard for what sin was in order to send a Redeemer from sin and its claims on mankind. Jesus Christ fulfilled that just standard by living the law perfectly so you and I wouldn’t have to! Remember, Jesus came not to condemn but rather to help; to offer a sin sick and sorrowful world a chance at life. He hung out with the publicans and sinners because those are the ones that needed his help. He didn’t choose to judge people but instead left the judgment with God, whose judgment is always just. And, incredulously, that same God made a way for His precious man to escape the confines of sin and live his life without judgment because of the accomplishments of another man; His son. God’s will is that we do not judge and He gave us a way to cleanse our own hearts to help us not judge other people. Who are we to say that our own mistakes and endless foibles are any less than an another man’s errors? When we finally get a good taste of what God did for us with His son on the cross, we can finally rid ourselves of the cruelty of judgment towards other people. God works in your heart to see and love like He does. The least I can do is offer you forgiveness remembering how many times God has forgiven me.

Obviously there are times when you acknowledge wrongs done to others and you don’t have to pretend to like it. But even then, it’s not our job to judge folks. Judgment hurts people and wounds their tender hearts. Even a child knows the sooner they acknowledge their wrong done and say they are sorry, the sooner they will feel good about themselves again. Similarly, people are going to make mistakes at times; sometimes epic blunders, but when that happens they don’t need your judgment to get better, they need your love. They need your willingness to never bring it up again! And, the world would be a better place because of it. I know how easy it is to get caught up in it at times especially when everyone else seems to be doing it as well. But, it is the wrong space from which to operate. It serves no other purpose than to glorify the insidious one behind it; the one working in the situations to bring about the pain and loss; the enemy of mankind behind every wrong that was ever done. It is much better therefore, to try and live your life without all the judgment, beginning with yourself. Give yourself a break and stop listening to the accuser. You are not the mistakes you have made, you are a person with a heart; a good heart. God looks on your heart! Forgive yourself for being a human and extend that heart to other people. That is what God wants you to do. 

At the end of the day, this life is challenging enough without judging people from here to breakfast. Folks have enough challenges to surmount without the added pressure of negative judgments. Someone might be behaving like a real stinker right now, but haven’t you been that stinker yourself at times? Not being judgmental does not require that you ignore all of the wrongs done in this life, but rather asks for compassion for your fellow man. You don’t know all that is involved, only God knows that. Let God do the judging and know that He desires for all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Who knows, maybe your acts of compassion and empathy might be all a person needs to finally turn their life around. Love people like your Momma loved you! Judge not! 

Just some good thoughts…

Be Good to Yourself…


shutterstock_1392252401Recently, while enjoying a glorious weekend away playing golf in Palm Springs during my first ever men’s trip, I had an astounding epiphany. On the inside, in the quiet place where nobody goes but you, you are having a relationship with yourself. I know it sounds weird, but your capacity to think and consider means the ability to draw conclusions about yourself, both good and bad. You weigh evidence, listen to people’s opinions, estimate your place in the world, evaluate your own behaviors and actions and finally arrive at some end point wherewith you consider your own worth and value. Maybe it is better described as your self-image. But, no matter how you get there, you are making decisions about how you should treat yourself, what you should say to yourself and what it is you deserve from yourself. Ultimately, you are choosing how you should interact with yourself. And in that vein, from personal experience and a multitude of interactions with other people, I’m guessing those interactions are not always good. In fact, if someone could actually hear your private thoughts, I think it is safe to say you are saying anything but good things to yourself. Oh my friends, you need to be good to yourself.

How could a man or a woman get to the place where they are treating their own selves poorly? Having only one precious life and one shot at this thing, how does a person become convinced to function as their own worst enemy? What must take place in our minds day after day, that leads us to the place where we are at odds with our own selves; where we need constant validation and affirmations; where we cannot trust own assertions and opinions about important things? How do we sink to the low places whereby every negative, outside opinion concerning ourselves sends us reeling into self-doubt and second guessing? It is not just how life is and everybody doesn’t do it to the same degree. As crazy as it seems, we are doing it to our own selves. We are actively opposing our own best interests. Every parent learns eventually that they have to love the negative behaviors out of their children rather than attempting to beat it out of them with threats and punishment. Yet, here we are as adults approaching ourselves with contempt and even disgust for who we are or for what we have done or maybe not done. Something has gone awry in our thought processes. Something or someone has worked us over. Something or someone has broken us down inside, in our own hearts and in our minds. We have listened to and considered influences outside of ourselves and have drawn conclusions that guarantee our perpetual defeat. We need to learn or relearn how to be good to ourselves.

It’s interesting to think that children do not naturally draw negative conclusions about themselves, that is until they learn to do so. In fact, children don’t give much thought concerning themselves at all. They just move along nicely, anxious to get past troubles and return to enjoying life. It is not until they get much older that they learn to chastise themselves and beat themselves up. If you think about it logically, what value is there in thinking poorly about yourself? When you chastise and berate yourself, who is the winner? Has any of your self loathing ever led you to a better place? Does constant criticism and fault finding lead anyone to a better place? Further, does mental self-abuse or self-torture change any of the mistakes you may have made or erase painful memories? Yet here we are mature adults continuing to play in a game we cannot win, doing things that only promise us defeat. These issues are indeed part of the human condition, but they are not inherent in human beings. We all have the ability to change our opinions of ourselves and we all have the right to stand up for ourselves. Our failure is not in failing to think positively, but instead failing to recognize what is really going on. We have become blinded to our own reality by habituation and repetition. Something isn’t right or true because you have done it a lot. Your opinion of yourself may have been forged over decades of time, but that doesn’t make it a reality unless you have concluded it so. Thus your job, my job is to gain some clarity about what is going on and make the necessary changes. You have to learn to be good to yourself in the same way you know to be good to someone else whose struggles you are trying to alleviate.

Being good to yourself means being willing to give yourself a break. If you listen to the devil long enough, you will end up thinking you are more evil than he is. He will drive your mistakes, your shortcomings down your throat until you arrive at the place he chooses. Then, your days will be spent judging yourself and confirming his negativity until you die. Well, why sit we here until we die? For God’s sake, are you really that bad? Are you truly the personification of evil because you have a few areas where you fall short? Isn’t it even possible that you continue to fall short because of what it is you are thinking about yourself? Maybe, just maybe you are bringing the trouble on your own self because of how you have been “trained” to think. I can assure you that the things you do are what most people do and we aren’t all that dissimilar at all. We are human beings and at best limited in our scope and understanding. And to take it step further, maybe the things you think are wrong with you aren’t wrong with you at all. Maybe you are a human being with all of the myriad thoughts and feelings that accompany being a human. Maybe you are functioning just as God intended for you to function requiring some adjustments that make sense as you learn and as you grow. My friends, being a human being means you have to learn to forgive yourself. It means you have to learn how to love yourself and continue to love yourself. It means you have to get past this preoccupation with your self and your sins and just accept what God did for you in the life of His son. You will never overcome the weaknesses of your humanity on your own, so you may as well cut yourself some slack along the way. The devil is a liar. Learn to think properly concerning yourself. Make your mind your friend. Speak to yourself like you would speak to your friend whom you love. Be kind to yourself. Love your self. Offer yourself some compassion and some empathy. Lord knows it’s hard enough to be a human without adding brutal scourging towards your own self. And most importantly, stop judging yourself. Negative self-judgment is the entire basis on which all self deprecation; all internal defeat is built. And negative self-judgment is the one thing God did away with in Christ Jesus. (That’s how big it is!) Refusing to judge yourself is as simple as refusing to continue considering all that appears wrong with you and choosing instead to consider all that is right with you; whom God made you to be; what God did for you that you could never do for yourself! Self judgment comes from the accuser and as such must be discarded at every turn.

At the end of the day, you only have one life to figure some things out. If your days have been less than the best, chances are you are not thinking properly about yourself. Chances are you are entertaining evil conclusions about yourself that did not originate with yourself. Chances are you have been deceived. Well, not to worry. You always have the opportunity to turn things around and our great God will help you to do so. Get off your own back. Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself for being so negative and get back on the path of life. Decide today to be good to yourself and to be kind in your dealings with yourself. Be on your own side for a change and see how much sweeter your life will become. Let God do the hard stuff. Be good to yourself…

Just some good thoughts…

Be Patient…


We live today in the culture of hurry. We want our food fast, our internet fast, our weight loss programs fast, our test results fast. We tend to seek out the quick fix, the shortcut. We don’t want to invest the time, just get it done, the sooner the better. Microwave beats stove top and temporary repairs are preferred over lasting solutions. We just don’t have the time to invest in doing things properly or the right way because we have to get to the next thing. Can’t we just pay a guy or order it on Amazon and get it done already? And while technological advances have certainly made life easier, we seem to have lost our ability to exercise a little patience. The best things in life always seem to take a little time. Do we even know anymore what it means to be patient?

If you have ever watched a craftsman at work, it becomes apparent rather quickly that there is always an element of time involved. The craftsman isn’t just trying to get the job done, but instead is seeking to get the job done where the result is perfect and beautiful and pleasing. People are willing to pay more for that person because the quality of the work speaks for itself. And as much as our frenetic world says otherwise, quality always makes the lasting impression. It’s quality, not quantity that we are after. The lowest bidder’s work generally reflects a lower quality because of the time and effort they are willing to exert on the task. If you pay less, you generally get less. The cheap clothing doesn’t last and for every dollar you save in your purchase, you pay for in terms of its longevity. It is better that you spend more on the front end than count on the bargain to stand the test of time.

In life, the best things take time. Relationships take time. Raising children takes time. Perfecting a skill takes time. Success takes time. Learning to live life the best way takes time. There are no shortcuts. Shortcuts always promise a faster result but fail to deliver, though they appear to do so at first. Whatever is easy generally isn’t worth it. That’s not to say that everything good is hard, but rather that good things require an investment on your part. Expecting good things without investing your own personal time and energy into those good things cannot fail but to produce loss. You may be able to count on the conveniences of technology to make things happen faster, but the real things in life; the most important things, require time and with time, patience.

Patience is a lost virtue in the helter-skelter of life today. We have been seduced by technology into thinking that there is always a way to obtain a result more quickly. We carry that mindset into our important life activities and expect a similar result. We seek to get the degree quickly in order to advance, but leave off the learning. We pursue important changes in our lives by employing the method that seems to get us there the fastest. We are all hat and no cowboy. We look good not by patient training and self control, but by the cosmetic surgeon’s scalpel. We want the diet plan that offers to burn the calories via a pill that requires neither exercise nor portion control. We want to have our cake and eat it too. In terms of our mental health, we don’t want to invest the time in discovering where our thinking patterns have gone astray, but instead seek for a diagnosis with its subsequent promised medication fix. And while medication is a beautiful addition to life, the goal was always that we arrived at the good place naturally, even if it took a little time. Modern advances certainly succeed in making life easier, but sometimes the ease and the convenience are not what we really need. It’s the pricks and the obstacles and the difficulties of life that really put us on our toes and awaken us to life’s more important lessons, as Emerson masterfully noted. Give a man a serious challenge to contend with and note how quickly he engages himself fully until a solution is at last found.

The reason we do not exhibit patience in life is that we have bought into the illusion that we have no time. We fail to recognize how forcefully we are being pushed and pulled towards activities that have little impact in helping us to live our best lives. We feel as if we don’t have time to think things through, much less the time required to actually solve our problems and make strides towards a brighter future. We are loathe to engage in something uncomfortable or new even if that new thing might serve to completely revolutionize our lives. Instead we go to work expending our best efforts for someone else and leave ourselves and our happiness undone. When we try something new or endeavor to move in a different direction, we feel that we don’t have the time or the energy to make the necessary changes though we only gave it a minimal try at best. Living this way, we soon find ourselves at the end of this brief life, full of regrets regarding the man or woman we always knew we could be. And all along all we had need of was a little patience. All we needed to do was step off the hamster wheel and take ourselves to account. We only needed to slow down a little and give our lives a little more consideration.

It’s never too late to begin practicing patience. Patience isn’t as concerned in getting the job done as it is in getting the job done properly. Patience knows that all good things take time and allots its time accordingly. Patience is required to live a successful life and to allow yourself the love and the space to get it right! Be patient with yourself and extend that same patience to everyone and every thing that you love. Be patient.