There are two groups of people I have encountered in my life. Those that look at your through lenses of grace and those that look at you through lenses of judgment. It is possible that people will view you through both lenses at some point, but when it comes to how they truly view you it will reveal itself in times of stress or wilderness.
I think the best example I can offer is one from my past. In my mid-twenties, a situation arose which was long and devastating. At some point, the goal became reconciliation on my part and as it turned out simply a desire to move on from the other party. Those are two very different things. Reconciliation, in my experience, requires listening to the other party and attempting to hear their heart while the other simply involves walking away from a situation. I was informed that my fate had been sealed. That I would always be viewed through the lens of someone who had failed and would not measure up. It was an experience I continue to learn from.
Those who wear lenses of grace seek reconciliation. Those who wear lenses of judgment seek to move on.
Another example of these groups of people living at odds with each other can be observed in the ability to forgive. It’s inevitable that at some point in your life you will say something that hurts someone else’s feelings. If you are insistent that you won’t do this, then consider that you will hurt someone’s feelings by not saying something. Regardless, whether you let someone fail by refusing to stand by them or use your words as a weapon, it will happen. When you find yourself in the situation where you need to apologize for hurting someone’s feelings with your words observe the two camps they can fall into. One group will cover you with grace remembering the hundreds of great conversations, encouraging words and accept that you are human. This is the lens of grace. The other group of people will look at you with disdain. They will refuse to forgive you and will hold those words against you for the remainder of your interactions.
Those who wear lenses of grace accept the totality of your words. Those who wear lenses of judgment choose the negative words to characterize you refusing to accept the positive.
Consider the friends you are surrounded with who cheer on your growth in life. Those who understand you are a work in progress who will fumble are willing to carry you through the hard times and cheer you on in the good. There are others you might be unfortunate enough to surround yourselves with, they are the friends who have chosen a box for you to fit in and will sit on the lid if needed to keep you there. They ignore the claw marks and cries to see the wading pants that look closer to capris you’ve grown do much.
Those who wear lenses of grace understand that we are all a work in progress and partner in growing together. Those who wear lenses of judgment refuse to consider growth an option for you to experience.
It seems to me that we rarely get to choose the circles of people that surround us. Co-workers, neighbors, parents of our kid’s playmates, even ministry teammates at church can all be people who wear lenses of judgment. No one can completely avoid judgment, even those who stick to themselves with thick walls surrounding them still deal with the judgment they carry for themselves. Judgment cannot be eliminated from our lives, but it can be limited.
2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
In the book of Hosea God calls on the Prophet Hosea to live a hard life. God has Hosea marry a promiscuous woman who then leaves him going to live with another man who treats her poorly. In the continued heaping on of hard things, God calls Hosea to go and rescue Gomer, his wife from the terrible life she has chosen and redeemed her.
This story, in part, is an example of how we are to live our own lives when it comes to forgiveness.
Hosea 3:1-3 (NIV) The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”
It may not seem like these verses apply to you because you haven’t committed adultery or aren’t a prostitute. I assure you, the story of Hosea is for everyone. This is a beautiful reminder of how God’s love covers us in in the depths of our sin. He does not wear lenses of judgment. God’s lenses are always those of grace, and because of this ours also need to be lenses of grace at all times. Limiting the judgment we experience begins with clinging to the one who always wears lenses of grace and learning to wear them ourselves. The next step I’ve found most effective in limiting the judgment surrounding me is to distance myself from it. This is
The next step I’ve found most useful in limiting the judgment surrounding me is to distance myself from it. This is not to say once judged cut off. Simply, those that consistently box me in with my failures are not welcomed into my inner circle. Instead, I cling to those who’s lenses of grace I can grow with.