You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. (Romans 2:1)
We've all heard that saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." I suppose that could be said of cars as well. Don't judge a car by its accoutrements, such as a bike rack on a minivan parked in a handicapped spot. I took a picture of it, and would have included it here, but I accidentally deleted it from my phone.
|How do I know the bike rack wasn't for a wheelchair?|
The other night, I saw this minivan with a bike rack parked in a handicapped spot, but it was parked crooked and took up a "non-handicapped" spot as well. I cluck-clucked and shook my head at the double no-no, like an old woman would do, then took a picture and posted it on Facebook, like a tech-saavy younger person would do. I said in my post, "I'm having a hard time believing that a person with a bike rack on the car is truly handicapped...unless the bike belongs to the passenger." I had one like before I deleted the post.
Well, guess what? When I came back from my shopping, I noticed a handicapped tag hanging off the rearview mirror and a cushion in the front passenger seat. Could it be possible that the person driving is not the handicapped one, but has a handicapped spouse, parent or child?
I was so ashamed of myself for jumping to that conclusion...right after I wrote and posted a blog about judging (See Unspoken Rules and Casting Stones)! And, I reminded myself, that blog is public...so everyone knows that you're a hypocrite! Well, I reminded myself, they ought to know that by now anyway!
While I and Me were arguing, Myself interrupted us and said, "Hey, look...that door is open and there is no one in or around the van." It looked as though someone had loaded several cases of water and other groceries in the van and then abandoned it.
I wondered if I was on some sort of reality "what would you do?" show...like, would I tattle (remember, I like to do that? See same referenced blog) on the person for parking in the handicap spot? (which would have backfired, since they actually had the tag) Would I find out why the door was open? Would I help someone in need or just keep going, minding my own business?
Of course I would have helped! If nothing else, the guilt I felt from making that judgment would have spurred me on. But there really was no one around to help. I assumed that they went off to shop and forgot to close the door, which presented another problem...should I close the door? Where was the camera? The host of the show? I kept walking. I figured that with the way things had gone so far, if I closed the door, the owner would come back and ask me what I was doing breaking into their car.
Are guilt and shame good or bad? I say they're both. It was good that I felt a little ashamed...because I made an incorrect and rash judgment. That's recognizing my sin. But if I did have the opportunity to help the owner, if the owner was indeed in need, would guilt be an appropriate reason to help? Probably not.
We know that our hearts are soft and pliable when we feel remorse for making a judgment. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) If our hearts are hard, we become defensive and argumentative. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts (Eph 4:18). We are always right, never wrong.
On the other hand, too much shame and guilt are signs of a deeper issue that needs to be dealt with. God does not want us to feel guilty and ashamed unnecessarily. And if we feel prolonged guilt and shame either long after we've repented or for something that isn't our issue, but we think it is, we need to get to the root of why.
A soft, pliable, repentant heart keeps us close to God. A hard, dark, closed heart separates us from God. One makes us free. The other keeps us in bondage. "I'm sorry," ought to be an easy thing for us to say, and ought to be used frequently. It keeps our heart soft, and God's grace flows into a soft heart.
Blessing Along the Path,
Song of the Day
If We Confess Our Sins Scripture Memory Song
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word (Elton John)