The Passion of the Christ is one of the hardest movies I’ve ever had to watch. Regardless of your religious background or beliefs, you cannot watch this movie and not be moved with compassion unless you have simply lost the ability to love or feel loved. The scene showing the woman caught in adultery hits too close to home.
I grew up in a religion of constant judgment. I remember as a teenager sneaking out to go to a party and then having to appear in front of a body of elders to publicly state my sin and willingness to repent. If I chose not to repent, I would be banished–a huge humiliation to both me and my family. My family and friends would not be allowed to talk to me until I turned from my ways. And all of this because I went to a party with young adults that were not part of my religion (and nothing terrible happened). Oh, and I chose to take my younger sister and cousin with me who made the mistake of telling another youth in our religion about the event. She told her dad, and he made sure to get in my face during the inquisition, wave his finger in my face, and repeatedly tell me to apologize to him and his daughter for sharing such vile information and setting a bad example. Did this make me a better person and help me turn from ways? Absolutely not.
To protect myself from judgment and the resultant shame, I judged others—harshly. Anyone who didn’t live up to “high standards” was someone less and undeserving. Throw a stone. People who don’t follow the rules, even the senseless ones, need to be punished. Throw a stone. People who don’t have a job are lazy and don’t want to work. Throw a stone. Homeless people are all drug addicts that choose to live on the streets. Throw a stone. Women who dress inappropriately and go to parties with alcohol determine their own fate. Throw a stone.
From woman on the ground being pummeled by stones, I emerged as the greatest of all hypocritical Pharisees trying to find the biggest rocks that would cripple the accused. As long as I was throwing stones along with everyone else in the crowd I wasn’t a target, right?
The interesting thing about judging others is that we send a strong message that we are above reproach. In other words, we are saying that we don’t make mistakes or that the mistakes of others are worse than ours. So when the Bible says that we will be judged according to the way we judge others, it means that anything we dole out to other people is coming right back to us. It may not happen overnight, but the time will come. Trust me, I know.
So how do we stop judging others?
Start by not judging yourself. We all make mistakes. For me personally, the judgment I was inflicting upon others was a result of my own personal shame and guilt for, not only the things I did, but the way I handled them. If we learn to go easy on ourselves, it will be much easier to go easy on other people.
Try seeing things another way. Though it’s difficult, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you struggle to do that, try having a conversation. In the past few years, when I traveled to major cities, where it was safe to do so, I would buy a homeless person a meal or hot beverage and then just talk to the person. You’d be amazed how quickly you can sympathize with someone when you hear their personal story.
Increase your awareness; be mindful. The average person has 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day! How many of those thoughts are positive? How many times is judgment a result of a negative thought? People who make it a practice to be mindful, to know what they are thinking, can change their thoughts. People who allow their mind to think whatever it wants which turns into action which leads to behavior are incapable of change.
Whether you find yourself relating more to the woman or to the ones throwing stones, there are simple steps you can take to change. It starts and ends with you.
“Judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who you are.” –Dr. Markway
©Room2GrowGarden.com, January 2, 2018