I have been guilty of judging others. Of waggling my finger and wrinkling my forehead. I’ve passed judgment on teens who wear their pants too low. Or grandpas who wear their pants too high.

Unfortunately, we Christians aren’t always known for being gracious. But I’ve yet to hear a young guy say, “My life changed for the better when this grumpy old geezer told me to cut my hair and turn down my music.” Thank God I did have some gracious, far-sighted older people in my life who chose to look past my many faults and encourage my strengths.
After visiting a rough, inner-city church, a man approached the pastor with a frown. “Pastor, I saw some of your band members behind the building smoking cigarettes.” The pastor’s eyes grew wide. “Are you sure it was cigarettes?” he asked.
“Yes,” replied the visitor. “That’s great news,” said the pastor. “Last week they were smoking something worse.”

Now, I was a pack-a-day smoker when I was 10. Just for one day. I’m not in favour of smoking, but I am in favour of loving those who struggle with it. I have a friend who loves Jesus deeply and smokes like a forest fire. We laugh together when I tell him what my mom told me: “Smoking won’t send you to hell. It’ll just make you smell like you’ve been there.” But the last thing he needs is my judgment. In fact, he’s told me how much the care and encouragement of friends is helping him kick the habit.

Three years ago, a young girl we knew became pregnant. She wasn’t married and my first thought was one of judgment. When I told my wife, she went out and bought the cutest baby clothes and we gave them to this precious girl. Two weeks ago, the tears wouldn’t stop coming down my face as she told her story in church. When she became pregnant, she felt guilty and condemned. But thanks to the love and acceptance shown by Christian friends and a miraculous answer to prayer, she came to faith in Jesus. The father of the baby is now her husband. He has come to Jesus too.

Bruce Carroll sings about a woman who only knew the kind of love she buys and sells. “But her thirsty heart is searching for a love that will be true, the Saviour cries for her to see Himself in me and you, Who will be Jesus to her? Who’ll show the love that commanded in His Word? Will she see in us the mighty God we serve? Who will be Jesus to her?”
Is there someone in your life could use less judgment and more love today? Let’s put down the gavel and bring some joy into this hurting world.