It was a rare sunny spring season on the small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, and I was there serving at a refugee camp. Daily life for me consisted of handing out food, water, and other necessities, building tents, organizing housing for new arrivals, and taking a census of the camp for the supplies list. My days were strenuous.
During my time there, I was constantly screamed at, ridiculed, and met with angry glares by the refugees. I was hit by a man, a young boy attempted to set me on fire, and children threw rocks at me. I became angry and bitter. My thoughts became consumed with their cruelty. I cried out to God, “Why are they doing this to me when all I am trying to do is help them. I did nothing to deserve this.” God helped me to see that my prayer was self-centered.
A small riot started one day. As the riots increased, a young girl began to violently shake and wail. I called for help and for an ambulance. I thought the girl was dying. A more experienced volunteer came and told me there was no need for an ambulance, she was having a panic attack. After a few hours, she calmed down. I was told she panicked during elevated commotion because she had to witness the murder of her whole family.
I realized I had no idea what they’ve been through. I was so captivated by their hatred that I didn’t see my own ignorance. My judgment was coming from my pride. My heart wasn’t there to serve out of love or compassion, but out of pride and self-righteousness.
Judgment is like a mirror reflecting the sin that we have. It comes from believing that we are better than someone else. Paul tells us in Romans 2 that there is no excuse for judging another person’s sin as each one of us is a sinner.
In John 8, the Pharisees confront Jesus while He was teaching. With them, they brought a woman who was discovered committing adultery. During that time, the law stated that the punishment for what she did was to stone her. The Pharisees asked Jesus what to do with this woman in order to test Him to see if He’d go against the law, so they could charge Him. Jesus responded, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.”
As time went by, each one of the men left. Jesus then said to the woman, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” The woman then said, “No one, Lord.” Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Jesus forgave the woman. He showed her compassion and patience. He did not condone the sin, but He made the Pharisees realize that each and every one of them was a sinner.
We are all sinners. God, who is sinless is the only one who can judge, and yet, He shows kindness to mankind. Paul says in Romans 2:4 “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” His kindness should turn us away from sin. It should turn us towards Him and encourage us to show that same kindness to others.
Where in your life do you need to replace judgment with kindness? We have no right to judge and as well it is not kind. God sees people with love and patience. Even though He has every right to judge, He forgives. Is pride preventing you from seeing others the way Christ sees them?