Today’s story seed is First Prize.
Jesus said to his disciples…Stop Judging and you will not be judged.
Listen to this story seed. There was a 19-year-old woman who entered her pumpkin pie in the county fair pie contest. She won first prize. It was only her first attempt at competing. She was thrilled. Congratulations came pouring in. Everyone had something good to say about her and her delicious pie.
She won the next year as well, and the year after that. As the years continued, she didn’t always win. Some years she didn’t even place in the top three.
Although her pies were delicious, she became bitter and hyper-critical. She could no longer enjoy her own cooking. She found fault with every pie she made. In fact, no one could make a pie good enough for her. The crust was too hard, the filling too sweet, not enough cinnamon, slightly over cooked…the list of possible criticisms became seemingly endless.
It wasn’t just about pies. The salad didn’t have enough carrots. The meat wasn’t basted sufficiently. The soup was salty.
Like a virus it spread from the kitchen to the whole house—the lumpy couch, the fading paint—and onto everyone she came in contact with—her husband’s jokes, her colleagues lack of punctuality.
And finally, her harsh judgement turned upon herself. She noticed her teeth were yellowing. Her hair was graying. Her clothes never fit right.
Do you know someone like this? Do you recognize yourself in this story? Do you have some advice for this person?
Jesus offers advice for all of us. Stop judging. Scripture tells us no one is perfectly good but God. We all have faults. Let go of the judgements and you won’t be judged. Stop looking for perfection and just try to do well.
The lady in our story did just that. She heard the message in church one day. That night at supper when she realized the corn on the cob was not as sweet as she liked, she let go of her dislike and accepted the corn in her hand for what it was—pretty good, but not perfect. It was still fairly sweet, had a pleasing color, and had just the right crunch.
About a month later while looking in the mirror, she decided she liked her hair with gray in it. She was of that age when gray hair enters one’s life. There was nothing to be ashamed of. She even felt a sense of confidence as she looked at herself.
It was only a week later that she laughed at one of her husband’s bad jokes. She thanked God that she married a man with a sense of humor.
She never entered the pie contest again, but she loved to go to the fair and enjoy any piece of pie she could get to taste.
Stopping our judgements isn’t just about getting into heaven after our death. When we are able to stop judging, we are kinder to ourself and others. It makes life on earth as it is in heaven.
Give it a try this Lenten season. Give up judging. It’s not easy, and if you stumble while attempting it, be kind to yourself. God will give you another try. God will help guide you to improve, but remember, there is no perfection. Nobody permanently takes first prize, but everybody gets a slice to enjoy.
Now let’s take 30 seconds to water the seed…
What judgment have you made that is hurting your relationship with others or yourself?