“Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the the mountains of Zion For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” Psalms 133: 1,3
Nine months before Covid-19 hit, my daughter advised me to consider ordering my groceries online. Her reasons were valid: it would free up my Saturdays and, at the time, our local grocery store was offering some financial incentives. After picking up my first order, I was hooked, loving the convenience of it. Later, a well-meaning relative remarked, “What does it mean when people can’t even take the time to shop for their own groceries?” I sheepishly acknowledged that I ordered groceries and tried to explain my reasoning, but to no avail.
My relative’s slightly judgmental remarks were no different than what I have done on a larger scale. As a single woman, I judged others on how they were wasting their time on frivolous activities. As a newlywed, I felt superior to other wives when they criticized their husbands. As a new mother, I looked down on how others parented. As a homeschooling mom, I judged others by how they educated their child. And as a Christian, I evaluated others on their Christian journey. I judged in a way that, from the outside, it might have remained undetected, but inside, it was an ugly, snarly attitude that crept out with phrases like “I would never”, “if only they would get some perspective”, or “they will regret their choices.” I justified my attitude because I had put principles above compassion. This attitude continued for years, until God revealed to me my sinfulness, and allowed situations to humble me, bringing me to repentance.
Besides being the judge, I, too, have been judged unfairly. I was judged as being a lazy, undisciplined person because of my obesity. As I lost weight, I was judged as being vain and self-involved. My motives have been questioned by other women, and my visible failures defined my value in some settings. These “judgmental” attitudes stole my joy, pushed my fear buttons, and hindered me from being the woman God intended me to be!
When I pondered what issues to write for Women’s History Month, hot button topics like self-image and gender discrimination came to mind. Despite the importance of these issues and the need for discussion, I kept going back to the issue of community and what prevents it. One of the conclusions I have drawn is that judgmental attitudes, whether we are the givers or receivers, hinders community. In addition, these judgmental attitudes are a prevailing problem among women. We judge other women and ourselves by impossible standards. These judgements can be cloaked in subtle phrases like the ones I used, posts on social media outlets, or, worse yet, how we include or exclude others from our lives. It strikes every place and platform where women exist, including ministry, motherhood, and marriage. It affects women of every social status, from royalty to the single mother. It tears down, destroys, and prevents us from being the women God has called us to be. Finally, it prevents us from being effective together as the body of Christ.
Throughout the Bible we see the festivals and celebrations that God set in place for Israel, the early church breaking bread from house to house, and Paul’s reminders that we are the body of Christ. By this, it is evident that God created us to live in community. At the same time, God also recognizes that we are flawed humans and often act in ways that hinder community. This, too, is evident in scriptures with the reminders to be unified, not to judge, and the proper way to handle conflicts with others.
Recently, a side effect of my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) disease, called a Baker’s cyst, has recurred. This cyst is a pocket of inflammation that develops behind my knee. It makes sitting with my legs elevated on an ottoman challenging and sleeping difficult. Overall, it is generally painful with the occasional sharp pain shooting up my thigh. Like all problems in our physical bodies, I must treat this condition tenderly. It would never occur to me to stab a knife into the pocket of inflammation to relieve the pain. I have no intention of cutting my leg off above my knee to sleep better. Only in life-threatening situations do we remove limbs or organs. My Baker’s cyst, although it is uncomfortable, does not require a drastic measure. Instead, it requires some care, rest, and diligence in managing the pain.
Humanity lives in the diseased state of sin. This disease is symptomatic in our lives. Even Christians, including myself, sometimes treat others unkindly, react in anger, or make poor choices that lead to additional problems. In response to this sin state, I must choose to treat others with as much gentleness and kindness as I do my Baker’s cyst. Paul, in Ephesians 4:1-3, urges believers “to walk worthy of the call…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I am called to love others, especially when they are struggling, and to help bear their burdens. This means that I should not judge their motives or attitudes, but instead love them with patience and understanding. Paul emphasizes the importance of this by telling us to be “eager”, or in some translations, to be “diligent” in maintaining unity. By loving other women well and not judging them, I can demonstrate God’s grace, mercy, and kindness.
On the flip side, when I judge others based on their diseased state, I can convey a message to that member of the body of Christ that they are not valuable. This can result in “spiritual amputation”, potentially separating that person from Christ. Furthermore, the Bible is clear that I will be judged by God with the same standard of judgment I have used for others. Conversely, if I want to be shown mercy, I need to demonstrate mercy towards others.
As a woman, I blossom and grow best when I am surrounded by other women who encourage me. When I feel judged or belittled, I struggle to find my identity in Christ. If I want that kind of environment for myself, I need to do my best to create that environment for other women as well. I love how David says it in Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant is it when “sisters” dwell in unity.” In the same Psalm, he later relates this to the dew on Mount Hermon. This snow-capped mountain provided much needed run-off for the Jordan River. This made the land especially fertile and full of potential! By choosing to encourage and uplift other women without judgment, I am choosing to create a fertile land where other women can grow and reach their potential in Christ!
Thank you, that unity message full of truth, was well said and I am grateful to simply and daily be reminded how to be more like Jesus. The mountain picture is much appreciated, because it will help me remember it’s Bible reference easier, thus the importance of community.
I enjoy and reflect
on your words. written to women makes no difference to me as i can apply your examples to my own life
thank you for sharing
I will share this as, a person with vision issues, it can be a struggle to see some of blog. your site is colorful and i do admire your hard work. again thanks for sharing
Danny, thanks for sharing that. I will try to address the vision concerns to make it accessible to all.