Who am I to judge?
By Jessica Brodie
I have had moments I’m not proud of. One of the things I absolutely disdain is being judgmental. And yet I’ve found myself in the store silently lambasting the values of some poor woman just because of the clothes she had on, or giving some guy the snobby side-eye and assuming he’s a party animal because he reeked of smoke and stale beer.
For all I know that woman had reasons for being dressed that way. For all I know the man wasn’t a party animal at all and it was just his job to clean up at a bar. Maybe they were just doing the best they could.
Reading Genesis this morning, I realized perhaps I’ve judged some of the people in the Bible unfairly, as well. I always read the story of Isaac and Rebekah in what I now believe was a narrow light. You might remember the story: the couple had two sons, twins (Genesis 25). Isaac favored one (Esau) and Rebekah favored the other (Jacob)—so much so that she helped Jacob trick his own father into giving him the blessing that belonged to his brother (Genesis 28). This was not something that could be rectified, either. This blessing was fixed and firm, forever!
In the past, I was always aghast at what Rebekah did in favoring one son over the other, going so far as to completely manipulate and deceive her husband into giving over the blessing to her younger son, whom she favored. But rereading the story again this morning, it hit me that maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time in judging her.
When Rebekah was pregnant and felt the terrible pangs of sickness—the boys were described as fighting each other in her womb—she was troubled. Truly troubled. She didn’t decide on her own what to do or why this was happening. Instead, she went to the Lord for answers:
“The two children struggled with each other in her womb. So she went to ask the Lord about it. ‘Why is this happening to me?’ she asked. And the Lord told her, ‘The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son’” (Genesis 25:22-23 NLT).
This morning, a new thought struck: Maybe Rebekah’s actions weren’t the actions of a petty, evil, manipulative mother who wanted her favorite son to succeed at the expense of the other. Maybe I only know part of the story, not the full story. Maybe what she did was her way of being fully obedient to God and what he wanted of her.
Who am I to judge?
We don’t always know the whole story, and that’s OK. We don’t always see the full picture or know how everything will work out. We don’t always understand someone’s motives or background, and we don’t always get all the answers.
But God knows all, sees all, is all. God has the full story.
As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, “‘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?” (Matthew 7:1-4 NLT)