“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” – Matthew 7:1
One of the first people I met when I went off to college was a guy named Ralph who lived down the hall in the same dorm. Ralph grew up in Houston where he had graduated from a large well-funded high school. I, on the other hand, came from a small rural community in northwest Texas where resources were more limited. I liked Ralph at first, until we got into a squabble about the quality of education we had received from our respective high schools, his being superior he claimed since his school was surely better resourced. It was an insult, whether he meant it to be or not. Plus, I also knew that what our school lacked in resources was made up for in work ethic and determination.
Fast forward many, many years later, Tee and I were in Montana on a hiking and fishing excursion where we hired a fishing guide named Peter to take us fly-fishing. Peter told us that he had retired from teaching school and coaching basketball in a small community in Alaska that was accessible only by small aircraft, which is also how his team traveled to compete with other schools. In the course of the conversation I could not help but ask what became of those kids from such a remote place after they graduated high school, implying, much like Ralph, that they must have been disadvantaged by having such limited resources (without realizing it, putting the shoe on the other foot!).
To my amazement Peter began to tell stories about students he had taught who had been accepted to Ivy League schools, medical schools, law schools, West Point and Annapolis. Who would have imagined? It made me wish I had kept up with Ralph so I could tell him stories about the people I grew up with in Paducah, Texas who went on to become doctors and lawyers, successful business-people and leaders of organizations, nurses and teachers, fine citizens and community leaders and volunteers.
The problem with judging is the likelihood of misjudging, as we are seeing before our very eyes in the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine where Russian leadership has clearly misjudged the Ukrainian people in their resourcefulness and determination to defend themselves. Jesus warns, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Likewise, we should be careful not to misjudge, for neither do we want to be misjudged. I should know, having been both victim of one and guilty of the other.