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Listen while you read: "Take Up Thy Cross"1 (Lyrics)
It was a cold January morning — and one of those rare ones in the Pacific Northwest of the USA when we waken to a fresh blanket of snow covering the ground. It was also garbage pickup morning, which meant that I had to have the garbage bins at the curb by 8:00 a.m. I generally took the bins out the night before to be sure that they were already in place for pickup, but our neighbourhood had recently had a rash of uninvited guests who sometimes came down the street and rummaged through the trash before the garbage truck arrived. So, on this particular pickup day, I had intended to wait until morning before setting out the bins.
Bundling up and stepping out my front door, the first thing that I noticed was a fresh set of footprints in the snow leading from the street to the garbage bins, which were in their normal place by the fence. "Oh, no!" I thought. "Someone has already come and rummaged through the garbage anyway!" It was only when I got close that I saw that the bins were empty. To my chagrin, I realized that the footprints were those of the garbage truck driver who had already come and gone. He had gone beyond the call of duty by climbing out of his truck and coming over to empty my bins rather than simply driving by because they weren't at the curb as they should have been.
This was not the first time that I had jumped too quickly to the wrong conclusion, assuming the worst rather than the best of a situation. I have sometimes acted on a false impression, later learning that my interpretation of something was incorrect. Not only have I misjudged someone else's motives, but I have also felt smug in the process.
That makes two strikes against me — pride and judging someone else. Here's what Jesus said about this:
Matthew 7:1-4 – Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, "Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye," when you can't see past the log in your own eye? (NLT)
Let's be slow in passing judgment on other people. Let's be careful to gather true facts lest we jump too quickly to a wrong conclusion.
Prayer: Dear Lord, who are we to judge our neighbour? Give us grace to accept others for who they are rather than for who we think that they ought to be. Give us grace to relinquish judgment to You, knowing that You will hold each of us accountable for our own actions. Most of all, thank You for both offering and granting forgiveness when we confess our sin. Amen.
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A very meaningful message on these days of violence at home and abroad.
Thank you for sharing this encouraging and timely devotional with us. Blessings.
That’s a good one! So true, that we jump to conclusions quickly. Thanks for writing!
We’ll done, Gail. A simple everyday example of our tendency to have thinking patterns that cause us to easily jump to judge. Need to take every thought captive before the Lord.
Gail, isn’t it wonderful when a garbage man (or anyone) goes beyond! This message reminded me of an experience I used to have with my garbage man when I still lived in my house. We’d sometimes have little chats and I’d thank him for his service. Periodically, he’d bring my empty can up beside my house…not that I was unable, but he was just that kind of fellow! I thanked God this morning for him and for your message bringing that to my memory.
Thanks, Gail, for another of your special devotionals. It was good to read about your garbage pick-up fellow being very dedicated to his job. Yes, it sure is easy for us to quickly jump to a wrong conclusion of some happening and it is really important that we take time to think before acting. Our Lord sure deserves our thankfulness for His forgiveness of our wrong thoughts and actions. Blessings as you continue to do these mindful writings.
Good morning, Gail,
Well I had no idea that “footprints in the snow” would lead to a powerful message on judgment. We all need reminders because it comes so fast into our minds, and we must think quickly to avoid the problem.
It always is powerful when a writer uses an example from their own experience to make a point and then follow it with the answer from a Bible passage.
Your devotional tells us also to remember that the majority of people in this world are kind. I have had my wallet returned twice with all its money and credit cards in it. A friend’s son had someone mail his to him from the US when he lost it on a business trip. Examples of true kindness are always powerful to reinforce our trust in others.
Praying that you continue to be inspired to write and share with others. Blessings.
Thanks, Gail, for encouraging us. As the saying goes, been there, done that too many times.