You see the homeless man on the street corner begging for money. You see the young, single mom with six children, all from different fathers, living in poverty. You see the Hispanic family trying to get food and clothing at the local crisis center. You see the drug addicted teen who is out on the streets and hasn’t had a shower in weeks.
And then these thoughts come.
Why doesn’t he spend his time looking for a job rather than wasting it begging on the corner?
She probably just keeps having more kids so that she can get more welfare money.
They probably illegally came into this country so they don’t deserve our help.
If they would just use their brain and stop doing drugs, they might actually make something out of themselves, rather than wasting their potential.
Each one of these thoughts, though sometimes (and I mean sometimes) they may be true, is filled with judgment. We judge their circumstances, we judge their decisions, and we judge who they are. Most of the time we do so without even knowing them at all. And though I am guilty of sometimes doing this myself, I have to wonder, is this the correct response we are to have as Christians?
The answer? Let’s take a look at Jesus. In Matthew 9:35 it says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Now I’m sure that the majority of the disease and sickness he was healing was literal, physical sickness. But how do we know that it was not also sickness of the soul? How do we know that He wasn’t also healing those in cycles of poverty and addiction? Because that type of healing is often what He does, I would be willing to bet it was included in the healing He was doing in Matthew 9:35. And then it is immediately followed by verse 36: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus didn’t see the crowds of people and begin with thoughts of judgment based on their circumstances and decisions. He saw them and immediately had compassion on them. He recognized that they were hurting. He recognized that they were struggling to make it in a hard world to make it in. He recognized that they were lost, like sheep without a shepherd. And you know what? His compassion changed their lives.
Judgment doesn’t create change. Judgment doesn’t move us to action. All judgment does is leave lost, hopeless, hurting, struggling people in their same hopeless struggle of a situation.
So our answer to the question, “Is judgment the correct response we are to have as Christians?” is no, it is not the correct response. But compassion is.
Challenge: How can you begin to show more compassion instead of judgment to the people in your community?