“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
When I picture God’s word being a lamp for my feet, my twenty-first century mind imagines a lamp shining a bright path at least ten feet in front of me. However, scripture was not written by a person with a twenty-first century mindset. This passage was written by a person with a first century mindset. Their lamps were very different from ours.
When I visited an ancient town in Israel, I was given a first century lamp as a souvenir. These lamps had the capacity to shed light one foot in front of the person carrying them. It was just enough light for the person to be able to stop themselves from an injury directly in front of them, but not nearly enough light to see further than the next step ahead.
This metaphor vividly portrays the concept of living by faith and not by sight. This concept emulates not worrying about tomorrow but trusting in God’s sovereignty and control. We may not know our future or be able to control the circumstances around us, but God’s word gives us enough light to walk through every moment under His protection. His word will guide and direct our steps. We just have to believe He will continue doing so for every consecutive step.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)
Luke chapter 19 tells the story of a tax collector named Zacchaeus. The Jews viewed all tax collectors as friends of the Roman Empire and therefore their enemies. They judged Zacchaeus to be a “sinner” and stayed out of his way. They may have been correct in their judgment, but Jesus did no such thing. Instead He took the time to have a meal with Zacchaeus and in doing so, He discovered the “gem” that was inside of him. Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus inspired him to give away half of his belongings to the poor and to pay back fourfold anyone he had cheated.
There may be times when our judgment of someone is correct. The wisdom of the world might say it’s best to stay away from certain people just like the Jews judged it best to stay away from tax collectors. But the wisdom of the world is not the wisdom of God. People are in desperate need to have an encounter with the living God. And with God’s Holy Spirit living inside you, you can bring people that encounter. Zacchaeus’ life was forever changed by his encounter with Jesus and it was all because Jesus chose to engage Zacchaeus instead of judge him. Let that be a lesson for all of us when we are tempted to judge.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)
When my mother-in-law recently came to visit, she brought with her about half a dozen old-looking, wrinkled oranges. They did not look pleasant. When she saw my reaction she laughed and told me she had had the exact same reaction when they were given to her. She warned me that the rind was thin, which made it tougher to peel, but if I made the effort to do so, an amazing burst of flavor awaited me. She was right. They were delicious! But one would have never guessed so from how they looked on the outside.
When I thought about this, it hit me that too often I make the same snap judgments about people. It might be because of the way they dress, their lack of hygienic care, the way I observe them interacting with others… there are numerous reasons I make surface-level judgments about others. But when I have taken the time to confess my judgment before the Lord, put it aside and instead chosen to interact with those I had just judged, I have often found a beautiful “gem” of a person inside.
I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to immediately convict you when you make a snap judgment about someone. And when you feel that conviction, let it be a reminder that maybe that is the person God is asking you to reach out to.