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Judge Not…

To understand where someone else is coming from, to know what they’ve suffered, is the beginning of prayer.

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If there’s any impediment to prayer, for me, it’s thinking too much of myself and not enough of others.

The other day I was running at the beach, coming to the end of what seemed to me a rigorous six-mile run. Dashing along the boardwalk, I passed a woman about my age who was running in the soft sand. “Looking good,” I called out, good-naturedly I hoped. “Keep it up.”

“You shouldn’t be running there,” she told me. “You should run in the sand. It’s much better exercise.”

What do you mean? I wanted to say to her, huffing and puffing. Do you know how many miles I’ve already run? Did you see me run on the beach earlier? Do you know how tired I am right now? Of course she didn’t. Nor did I know anything about her and her health and how many miles she was running.

People make all kinds of judgments about one another. I do too. But when Jesus said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” I think he was telling me something about the life of prayer.

To understand where someone else is coming from, to know what they’ve suffered, to be aware of how long their walk has been, is the beginning of prayer. That kind of empathy stretches the soul and makes for a good spiritual workout.

Or maybe I should say: Don’t judge someone until you’ve run a mile in their Nikes… on the beach. 

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