Dirty Laundry

Recently a young couple had moved into a rural neighborhood. Living next door to this new couple was Bill and Mary. One morning while eating breakfast, Mary looked out the window and saw her new neighbor hanging her wash. “That laundry isn’t very clean!” Mary told bill. “Our young neighbor doesn’t know how to get her clothes clean!” Bill read the paper and didn’t say a word. Every time the new neighbor hung the laundry out to dry, Mary would make the same comments. Bill continued to say nothing.

A few weeks later, Mary was surprised to look out her window and see a nice, fresh and clean row of wash hung out to dry. In surprise, she said to her husband, “Look Bill, she finally knows how to clean her laundry.” “I wonder what she learned?” Mary asked. Bill replied, “Honey, I might have an answer for you.” “Really?” Mary Said. “Yes, I do.” Bill said. “I got up early this morning and washed our windows. I guess we finally learned to wash the windows.” (From a video at www.openthemeeting.com)

This story of Bill, Mary, and their neighbor is the filter through which our culture wants us to view the issue of judging others. If we notice that someone else has a problem, then that problem is really just our problem because we're judgmental. It's definitely not the other person's problem.

I concede that frequently the problem is our problem. We can’t just run around trying to correct everyone. Jesus instructed us to judge rightly (John 7:21-24). We need to make sure that we are seeing the whole issue before coming to a judgment. All sides of the issue. We have to make sure that the problem isn’t just us, our wrong attitude or our incomplete perspective.

But at other times, people actually have problems, and we are called to help them. We don’t have to be perfect to practice righteous judgment. If that were the case, we wouldn’t ever be qualified to help one another out because each one of us is a sinner in need of a savior. What we have to be is humble and loving. And if we have a problem with something, then we shouldn’t start pointing that out in others (Matthew 7:1-5). People might not know how to do their laundry. What would it benefit them if we didn’t go over there and show them how to do it? We could do this in a creative and loving way. We could invite them to do laundry with us. But the goal would be helping and not just criticizing them from the comfort of our dining room table.

People might not know right from wrong. They might not have been taught it since birth. They might be out of touch with God in an area and need some help. We all have a somewhat skewed upbringing. Our society instructs us from birth that we are to let people be who they are, but some times people need to be loved out of being who they are. They need someone to show them that they can be better than who they are, that they are not limited to being who they presently are. Nobody is confined to just be who they are. Each one of us needs to work toward being who God planned for us to be. Most people have been taught by their parents how to do their laundry, but for those who haven't, they do need someone to teach them.

This is an excerpt from a larger piece asking whether we Christians are to judge and how to do that. Judge Not or Judge Rightly