Being a pizza delivery guy can make you judgmental in a hurry.
I mean, you’re seeing everything. Being a delivery guy takes you into every nook and cranny you didn’t know existed in your own town, and sometimes what you find is ugly. Trailer courts, ghettos, drugs, serious financial problems. It’s easy to take from the surface of what you’re seeing and form a judgment.
(Personal pet peeve: the husband/boyfriend/whatever who sits on the couch watching TV while the woman answers the door trying to juggle a baby, a receipt, and the pizzas I’m handing her. Dude. Help out.)
Or here’s a classic: maybe if you weren’t ordering pizza four times a week, you’d be doing better. I could feed myself for a week on what this is costing you. Heck, McDonald’s is cheaper!
And sometimes I might be right.
But I’m not so sure that that’s the goal anymore.
I’ve been on the wrong end of so many judgments lately. Good friends whom I’ve been minorly annoyed with for one thing or another, only to find that they’re seeing the same thing I am and dealing with it, or that there’s more going on beneath the surface that I can’t see and I’m just dead wrong. I’m usually just barely smart enough to keep my mouth shut about most things, so I avoid showcasing my ignorance for all to see.
Last week was an exception. I made a comment and got put in my place.
And it was good.
So, so good.
Not to be put in my place, necessarily, but to be rescued.
For a rescue it was. Conviction and the exposure of our sins is a lifeline, a spiritual OnStar. It orients us. It brings us God’s grace, leaves us reliant on it.
In the Gospels, Jesus gives us a lot of reasons to avoid judging others. One is that we’re often doing the same stuff (the actual context of Matthew 7’s “Judge not, lest thou shalt be judged”). Another reason is that none of us are innocent; we are all reliant on God’s grace (the story of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18).
But another reason God steers us away from judgment is because we’re bad at it in the first place.
Only God sees the stories, the circumstances, the motives that drive other people to do what they’re doing. Only his power can help them out. My comments? Pretty much useless. Powerless. Although quite happy to leap from between my teeth at a moment’s notice, regardless. We all judge so easily. Most judgmental thoughts flicker through our minds in less time, and with less effort, than it would take to speak them out loud.
But maybe that boyfriend who isn’t helping with the baby is in fact a quadriplegic, and I just didn’t spot the wheelchair.
Unless God has for some reason anointed me to speak to that person in that particular situation, and I usually have to be pretty close to a person for that to be an option. God doesn’t need me for that. If he chooses to use me, I figure he’ll let me know. A stranger on 4th Street doesn’t qualify.
In the meantime, I’m asking God to take away my critical spirit and replace it with his own. One that produces the fruits of the Spirit, one that loves and offers grace.
Fresh ingredients for his kingdom.
A pleasing aroma to him.
Avoiding the yeast of the Pharisees.
Alright, that’s enough strained pizza metaphors for one day. Piece out. I mean, peace out! Argh.
This is part of a Pizza Lessons series I’m auto-posting while on mission in the Czech Republic. I won’t be responding to comments until I return, but please feel free to comment anyway. Please pray vigorously for our team!