Max Lucado in his book, "Grace for the Moment" a daily devotional dated May 4, Max wrote the following.
"You will be judged in the same way that you judge others."Matthew 7:2
We condemn a man for stumbling this morning, but we didn't see the blows he took yesterday. We judge a woman for the limp in her walk, but we cannot see the tack in her shoe. We mock the fear in their eyes, but have no idea how many stones they have ducked or darts they have dodged.
Are they too loud? Perhaps they fear being neglected again. Are they too timid? Perhaps they fear failing again. Too slow? Perhaps they fell the last time they hurried. You don't know. Only one who has followed yesterday's steps can be their judge.
Not only are we ignorant about yesterday, we are ignorant about tomorrow. Dare we judge a book while chapters are yet unwritten? Should we pass a verdict on a painting while the artist still holds the brush? How can you dismiss a soul until God's work is complete? "God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again" (Philippians 1:6).
Max's words are a great reminder to me and should be to all of us. We need to be careful not to be quick to make an assumption about someone with out first getting to know them.
So many of the men that we walk along side at KB have struggled or are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. And many of these same men also struggle with depression and anxiety. As I visit with men in the application process I will often ask them why they used drugs or alcohol. Some say it was just too party or fit in. In some cases I think this is true. Other times I feel that this what they grew up around. It was always available and was the norm. Their parents used or drank, and they never knew anything different.
But very often, if they start to open up, I find that there is a deep-seated wound albeit sexual abuse, physical and/or verbal abuse, or a hole in their heart that is there from a parent, especially a dad, that they never knew. As a parent that has been a dad to foster kids, and having 4 adopted kits of our own, I am maybe a little more sensitive to the number of these men that grew up in the foster system with an absent parent or as an adopted child.
There are many good foster parents and parents that have adopted children. I am the first to say thank you, and good job. But even with good families, many of these children/adults still wonder why. This often leads to depression and anxiety, especially if not addressed correctly.
I can remember a time in my life, as a kid growing up, that my attitude towards those in prison was "lock them up and throw away the key. Shortly after I got married I was introduced to a neighbor of my wife's parents that talked to me about the M-2 program. This is a program that connects a man from outside prison with a man with similar interests that is incarcerated. I knew from growing up that this was highly recommended. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 25.
After visiting with the first couple guys it came apparent to me that they were very ordinary people that made a bad choice. One that I remember quite well was a young man 20 years old. This was 35 years ago and to be honest, I don't even remember his name. But what I do remember is that he was in prison for drug abuse. He was a nice clean cut kid and very polite. He started telling me that he grew up with his mom and a stepdad. When in high school, when he came home from school there would be drugs on the kitchen table. He never had been given a good example. Mom and stepdad used, so why would it be any different for him?
Max, in his devotional, made a very valid point. A point that I have come to understand firsthand. It is a great reminder to me and should be to all of us. We need to be careful not to be quick in making an assumption about someone without first getting to know them and their story.
Many of the men that I have come to know over the years never really had an opportunity to know anything but chaos and brokenness.
Who am I to judge?
Jeff Haverhals - Ministry Director