Aug. 10, 2009
“Then they wept aloud again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye.”
Ruth 1: 14, Amplified Bible
“I learned early in life not to judge others.”
Is there a time in my life when I made a hasty judgment about someone else’s behavior only to find out later that I had completely misread the situation?
What can I do in my life to be less judgmental of those whom I do not understand?
How do I apply the words of Jesus, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others,” in my every day dealing with those I don’t agree with?
Text: Matthew 7: 1, Amplified Bible
“Heavens! Whatever possesses us, here below, that we mutually torment ourselves, sourly reproach our mutual faults, and mercilessly condemn all that is not cut according to our pattern?”
“Alas! We give our own coloring to the actions of others.”
I have my mother to thank for the great enjoyment and love I have for reading. One of the tremendous joys of preparing the daily devotionals here at Transformation Garden is that I need to read a great deal, especially as I dig for the diamonds penned by others.
Through my studying, I try to read a wide-variety of books – autobiographies, inspirational, historical and philosophical.
Recently, I picked up a small volume called, Sway, that really caught my attention because of the interesting subject matter. The entire title of the book is: “Sway – The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior.” This title alone grabbed me for I think it is quite common that at one time or another we have all watched someone make a decision or we have made a decision ourselves, only to say later, “Why in the world did they do (or did I do) something so stupid?”
Throughout this book, the authors, who are two brothers, look at specific irrational psychological forces that compel and even undermine rational decisions.
Now if you think that my next statement is going to look at our text for today and based on Orpah’s choice to go back home to Moab, I’m going to ask how she could have made such an irrational decision. You are wrong!!
Based on my current reading, I’d like to share a few lines from the book Sway, before we jump to conclusions about Orpah’s choice, as I have so often done in the past.
In my reading, I found there is a decision making process we all use which is defined by psychologist Franz Epting as “diagnosis bias,” through what is identified as the “personal construct theory.” Here’s how this principle is explained: “We make diagnostic errors when we narrow down our field of possibilities and zero in on a single interpretation of a situation or person. All of us have certain lenses…that we use to sift through the endless flow of information we encounter. For example, when we meet new people we may judge them on whether they dress well or poorly, whether their shoes are polished or not…whether they are religious or secular…forming initial opinions is one of the ways in which we try to make sense of the world given limited time or information. But we have to be careful not to rely too much on such pre-emptive judgments…they can narrow our perceptions and make us more apt to get swayed by a hasty diagnosis.”
As I read this statement I began to reflect over my own life and some of the rash opinions or snap judgments I’ve formed about others, without taking time to thoughtfully weigh and consider another perspective before I quickly jump to an errant conclusion. And I want to underscore, the same can be said about the way we study the Bible sometimes. We’ve already found this out as we’ve dug deeply in our study into the lives of individuals like Rahab or Dinah or Tamar or Jepthah’s daughter. We’ve found these women were often portrayed as one-dimensional characters, defined by history or ineffective Bible study by one word labels – harlot, rape, prostitute, or sacrificial lamb. In reality, these women were so much more, and their stories opened windows and doors for you and me as daughters of God as we’ve studied how they dealt with some of life’s harshest events.
The same can be said about Orpah. For years, I had a “diagnosis bias” that Orpah was the “wrong” one and Ruth was the “right” one. I thought Orpah made the wrong choice and Ruth the right choice. But what if, just for a moment, we re-think, re-read, and re-study the Biblical account and we find that Orpah’s choice, in the light of eternity may have been as appropriate as Ruth’s choice was. It’s just a thought we are going to explore more tomorrow. In the words of Jesus, “Judge not.” So let’s hold our judgment of Orpah until we study all the facts – for remember, God’s plan for Ruth’s life, her mission may not have been the same as it was for Orpah’s life and what we may find out, is that both of these women allowed themselves to be used by God, to fulfill His plan for ALL His children here on earth.
“Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think.”
“Take me, accept me, love me as I am;
Love me with my disordered wayward past;
Love me with all the lusts that hold me fast
in bonds of sensuality and shame.
Love me as flesh and blood,
not the ideal which vainly you imagine me to be;
Love me the mixed-up creature that you see;
Love not the man (or the woman) you dream of but the real.
And yet they err who say that love is blind.
Beneath my earthly, sordid self your love discerns
capacities which rise above the futile passions
of my carnal mind.
Love is creative. Your love brings to birth
God’s image in the earthiest of earth.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit: www.direct2church.com or email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.