How Jesus taught me “Do not judge”

Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 7:37

Jesus also said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” John 7:24

I think most of us are guilty of having judged others at one time or another and if you truly believe you have never judged then please pray for those of us who know we have.

Let me tell you my story…I used to see young people with hand made signs “Help! Need Money! Please give!”…And I have said (perhaps on more than one occasion) “Why don’t they get a job?”…Look at them, they are young; they are healthy; why are they begging?

Remember Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances”…So He took me on a little journey; He extended His invisible hand to me and brought me to a youth center where I could meet young people in desperate situations, some were living on the streets.   At first I wondered “what am I doing here?”…I felt a bit uncomfortable because I was at the time in my early 40’s and most of the staff were in their early 20’s.

The learning began with a young girl in her late teens. She was a brilliant artist, with no real training, her talent was a gift from God. She didn’t go to school; she had no job and she told me she had been raped, yet she was determined to create a better life for herself. Then I met a young man, in his late teens that wanted to know if I used drugs. I said “No I didn’t”…He told me that he had never met a “chick” who didn’t do drugs and that on the weekend he did drugs with his mother.  I was stunned by what he was telling me and I couldn’t believe a young man was calling me a “chick”; I felt like a mother hen who needed to protect all her little chicks.

The staff at the youth drop-in center began telling me of a young prostitute from another city that kept calling “to chat”…Having been through distress center training, I knew this young woman was in distress and that she was not just calling to chat, she was looking for a way out of a terrible situation. I felt overwhelmed!…and I wanted to just fix everything! But how? I asked God, “why are you showing me all of these problems when I don’t know how to resolve anything?”…but you know what He was doing…The wise teacher, Jesus, was teaching me “do not judge”!  Also, I had prayed a prayer to God that I felt He was now answering.  I had prayed “God show me Your pain.”  And guess what, He was answering my prayer.

One day a young man (early 20’s) came into the center with his young baby and his girlfriend. He was trying to warm up the baby’s food in the microwave oven. I could see he was trying his best to care for his baby so I began encouraging him and we started talking. He asked me if I had children and I told him I did. He said, “Your children are so lucky to have such a beautiful mother”…and my heart broke! I realized this young man needed a mother too…

So today, I invite you to pray with me for young people who are in desperate situations, some are already addicted to drugs, some are involved in prostitution, some are physically and mentally ill, most lack skills for employment, many lack emotional and financial support…but God is not blind to their pain and I am glad Jesus showed me that although many of these young people looked on the outside like healthy, capable people, they were really struggling with enormous challenges and they need our prayers, they need our social services, they need our compassion and love.

Holy Lord, please help these young people to build new lives. Take them under Your gracious wings and guide them to people and services that can protect them, guide them, heal them and help them to start lives that will honor You. Please give them faith, please keep them safe and please forgive me for having judged. I’m sorry!