Yesterday as I waited at Wal-Mart's customer service desk, I realized how judgmental I can be. The Wal-Mart employee behind the counter was holding a check in her right hand and the phone in her left, and I couldn't help but overhear the conversation. "Did you give your grandaughter a check to cash?"
"She's only got a sippy cup, but I noticed the notation at the bottom of the check. It's for medicine, right?"
"She's gone to get more stuff, because she didn't have enough merchandise for me to cash the check."
"I'll see that she has some when she comes back."
A few minutes later, a woman with a little girl came back to the counter with a package of children's tylenol.
"This is all I could find," she said. "This will have to do."
Immediately, I mentally berated her for taking advantage of her grandmother's generosity. She just wants the money, I thought. She's not interested in getting medicine for her daughter. I bet she'll spend the rest of the money on whatever she wants. Who knows what she'll do with it? She should be ashamed of taking advantage of an old lady.
My thoughts continued on that path for the rest of the day, and I'm ashamed to admit that I had no problems looking down on that poor woman. It wasn't until much later that I suddenly realized how easily had I had snapped to judge her. I don't know her situation or her needs. I don't know why her grandmother wrote a check. Maybe she needed to pay a doctor's bill. Maybe she needed to buy groceries. Maybe the only medicine the little girl needed was Tylenol. Maybe she just needed some grace.
Far too often, I turn my nose up at the people who need help the most. It's easier for me to cast judgment than it is to actually reach out and help. If I think that I'm somehow better than them, then I won't feel responsible for helping them in their plight, but the truth is that I'm not better. I am who I am because of the grace of God, for no other reason. I lack nothing, but it's not because I deserve the life I live; it's because God has given it to me. It's my duty to take what God has given me and use it for the good of others, but most of the time, I just use it for the good of myself.
If we Christians are ever going to reach the people who need God the most, we have to get over ourselves. I'm not exempt from this challenge. It's time to extend a little bit of grace and open my eyes to the needs around me. Maybe I can do something to help.