Thoughts on Being a Judgmental Fool

I am writing a book about my life. I have one chapter on the occasions when I found myself to be judgmental fool and the life lessons I learned when I realized what I’d done. I submitted the following to a writing contest and I won the category for best Bible Study writing.

“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes…” James 2:2
Two people passed through my younger life at different times, one in fine clothes and one in ragged clothes. Two times I was a fool for misjudging.
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I saw a woman beautifully dressed, not a hair out of place, and immaculate in every way. She could have been on a magazine cover—from the neck down. From the neck up, she was one of the ugliest women I have ever seen. I was almost repulsed by her looks and immediately didn’t like her. At the same time, I felt sorry for her. How hard it must be to go through life looking like that.
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I saw an old man in worn-out clothing, whose steps were uncertain and his speech slurred. He asked everyone around if we wanted to buy earrings from his homemade display. When he asked me, I lied to him when I said I had no money to buy them. I wanted him away from me. At the same time, I felt sorry for him. How hard it must be to go through life inebriated like that.
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“…and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool, have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”… James 2:3-4
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I saw the woman later when she rose to speak to our group. Her voice was very soothing and persuasive. She was well educated and passionate about her work in adult literacy. Her lecture was stimulating, with just the right amounts of seriousness and humor to inspire everyone. After the meeting was over, I was formally introduced to her and she was very refined, yet humble. Those who knew her bragged about her being an accomplished pianist and singer. I liked her and admired her for being such a gracious woman. I was ashamed and repented for what I thought before.
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I saw the old man later when he came toward me after dark in downtown Santa Fe. He sat on a bench beside my husband and me and rubbed his legs. He told us how his legs had never been the same since he’d been wounded in Viet Nam. He told us about coming home from the war, about wife, his sons, and grandchildren, about his life in one of the nearby pueblos, and about how he made a living selling jewelry. His speech slurred because English was not his first language. We listened intently, asking questions and remarking on his interesting life. He was a kind and fascinating man. I was ashamed and repented for what I thought before.
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“Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, that I may not be ashamed.” Psalm 119:80
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24
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I learned a lesson from the woman that I keep in my heart. Outwardly she may be rejected by others, but on the inside she was very cultured and graceful. She made everyone feel at ease around her and was the epitome of a woman with great class and dignity. I will never forget her.
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I learned a lesson from the old man that I keep in my heart. After about a half-hour of talking, he pulled out his display of earrings and insisted that I take a pair. He said we were very kind to listen to an old man’s ramblings and he didn’t want me to forget him. I didn’t need the earrings to remember him. His unseen gift to me was far greater than the earrings: to look at people’s hearts instead of their appearance. I will never forget him.
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“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.” John 7:24

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