“She and the girls went into the hills….”
N. I. V.
“The Yardstick By Which We Measure”
“Judge not thy friend until thou standest in (her) place.”
In what ways have I judged the lives of those around me?
Do I use the same yardstick to measure my life as I do others?
“If any have a stone to throw, it is not I, ever or now.”
“A man (or woman) generally judges of the disposition of others by his (her) own.” Regina Maria Roche
I love old movies. And several days ago, I saw a real tear-jerker with the beautiful Vivien Leigh and the handsome Robert Taylor called WaterlooBridge. This was the first movie Vivien Leigh made after the world famous film, Gone With The Wind. In the picture, Ms. Leigh was a beautiful young dancer who by chance met a wealthy and highly respected hero of World War II. Separated by war, and thinking her hero fiancé dead, Vivien Leigh found herself penniless and finally resorted to selling her physical beauty to pay for food to eat. Suddenly, one day, her handsome fiancé showed up. He wasn’t dead after all. Not knowing of his betrothed’s painful past, he proudly took her to meet the “finer class” with whom he was raised.
Forced to be under the microscope of scrutiny, Vivien couldn’t take living with a past she thought too sordid and in the end, she left her potential new life – a life she desperately longed to possess.
Thousands of years ago, the Roman philosopher, Seneca, observed, “We keep other people’s vices in our eyes, but our own, we keep on our back.” As I watched the sad portrait of a girl who could not live with a soiled reputation in the movie, I thought how often we, too, place on our backs the weight of other’s criticisms and judgments. For not only do we weep or lament for what we know might have been, we then add to this the poundage of other’s disapproval.
If there is ever a lesson we as women – and men, too – should take away from the story of Jephthah’s daughter, it is that we must be observant of the yardstick we use to measure those around us. Let me explain what I mean, in practical terms, as we look again at the life of Jephthah’s daughter.
Just say, your own daughter came home with a new girlfriend from school. As a concerned parent, you would want to know a little more about your child’s “friend.” So, you ask your daughter to tell you something about this young woman.
This is what your daughter tells you: “My new friend’s grandma is a prostitute. Her dad is a mercenary – a killer. He’s called in when the enemy is the fiercest. Oh, and I almost forgot, he’s got a big-mouth. He’s a hot-head.
Then, you ask about the girl’s mother and your daughter informs you there’s no information about her at all. After these insightful details, your child tells you her friend wants you and a couple other girls to go into the mountains to wander and mourn for two months because her father made a hasty vow he won’t take back and now your daughter’s new friend has been relegated to a life alone. What would be your answer?
Would you let your daughter take-off into the mountains with Jephthah’s daughter? How would your yardstick and mine measure the life of this young girl who fell victim to the family she was born into?
I can tell you this, my parents would not been thrilled if I’d walked out the door with a person whose family history was so soiled. Yet, Jephthah’s daughter wasn’t the one to fault for her father’s failures. Evidently, the parents of the girls who traveled into the mountains with this young woman, recognized this fact and rather than saying, “You aren’t going to associate with her,” instead, they let their daughters attend to the needs of their friend.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all good judgment should be suspended when choosing friends and associates. What I am saying is, that before the human hand of harshness throws the first stone at another, let us remember if our roof is made of glass, we may get shattered in the battle, too.
As one noted thinker stated, “I would rather bite my tongue till it bled, than pass judgment upon any man (or woman). Judgment we should leave to God, for out of the habit of sitting in judgment upon one’s neighbor grow self-satisfaction and arrogance, which are of the devil.”
When my husband, Jim, was a young boy growing up in an immigrant family, many times he felt on the outside. Not because of the way he acted, but because his parent’s limited financial resources made it impossible for them to own their own home or for their children to purchase fancy clothes like some of the other kids. However, what I found in Jim was what some other people missed and that was a golden nugget of a heart filled with love for God and love for all humans. How superficially we judge others!
Way too often we pass over those who may not measure-up by the yardstick we use to define those around us -- and when we eliminate others from our lives by their race, the size of their bank account or the titles behind their names – we do so at our own peril for God’s criteria for measuring success is not the same as ours.
Not long ago, a friend was discussing with me a situation where a mutual friend had made a mistake, and she said: “You know Dorothy, there but for the grace of God, go I.” Her words replicate those of Goethe who noted, “I see no fault that I might not have committed myself.”
No wonder, Jesus, in His ministry on earth, was so definite in His call to those who thought themselves the most holy. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
May we follow Jesus’ words when we use our earthly yardsticks to size up one of God’s children?
“It is the property of fools, to be always judging.” Thomas Fuller
“Our Father God, whose purpose it is to unite all of us in Christ, we pray for the breaking down of barriers of misunderstanding between people of different races and colour, between employers and those who are employed, between the older and those who are young, between the successful and those who feel they have failed, between those who belong to a church and those who remain outside. May the Spirit of Thy Son Jesus Christ, in bringing all of us to Thee, bring those around us closer to one another. We ask in Your name and for Your sake. AMEN.”
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.whenawomanmeets jesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
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