What do you do when suddenly you are ushered into the room of unexpected change? What do you do when change becomes messy and seems to evoke the ugly in people, including yourself?
What happens when you boldly set out a course and it attracts unwanted judgement and criticism?
What do you do with the cranky driver who waves their judgement at you or the out of sorts teenager who offers a mouthy assessment of your instructions?
These common and not so common moments land on all of us. We are in a season right now we where are being given a multitude of opportunities to practice something other than negativity and judgement.
Judgement paints others with our values. Our values are what shows up when there is conflict, tension and change.
Generosity is something else we can reach for when these moments happen upon us.
Generosity says “At any given moment people really are trying to do the best they can with what they have. Our bests are all different!”
Generosity looks at the situation and the individual and says “What is the most generous interpretation of what another is saying, intending and doing?”
Practicing generosity allows us to operate from the place of compassion and grace. It is jail breaking out of judgement. Socrates stated, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Pain and discomfort will always make itself known. Is that for us to judge or it that for us to bring the courage of compassion and healthy boundaries to?
Courage extends generosity to other people and extends generosity to ourselves. When change, out of sort teenagers and cranky drivers walk over our boundaries, compassion or judgement will show up.
I remember years ago reading in the Old Testament the description of the Temple, the place God chose on earth to dwell in.. His home. Amidst grand descriptions of gold censors, candle stands, altars, huge winged cherubim’s, was a item called the ‘Mercy Seat’. It seemed humble, easy to overlook in the eye distracting dazzle of everything else that made up the most important real estate on earth.
Mercy. What God, the King of the Universe, sits on. The surprising centre piece of His house. This layout and choice of furniture in God’s house screamed the reflection of His heart, mercy triumphs in this house over judgement.
The minute someone’s behaviour or words hurt us or puts us down, the arm wrestle is on! It is hard to be generous! It is hard to slide into that space of saying “They are trying the best they can with what they have.”
It is much easier to reach for judgement. While we do not know that they are in fact trying the best they can with what they have, it is way more fun to assume that. And way more responsible of us.
The alternative to generosity leaves us in self judgement that says, “I don’t want to accept that this person is doing the best they can because it would make me look like a very unkind person the way I have been treating them.”
What will we own? Ourselves or be more distracted at what others are not doing.
The harder thing to do is practice generosity, but it is what courage does. Courage is not afraid of doing hard things because courage will not give itself away to the behaviours and opinions of others. Courage owns itself.
Generosity is what love Himself has always done. God practices perfect generosity! “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
I love the definition of repentance as doing a u turn to return to higher thinking. In the word repent, we see ‘pent’. Pent is attached to the word penthouse and this is a confined space on the roof or top floor of a building.
When we fall from thinking higher thoughts, generous thoughts, the Bible says our minds become “debased.” (Romans 1:29) Debased means to lower in status, esteem, quality and character. It is to reduce the intrinsic value of something or someone.
This is the scary thing about judgement. We decide what is valued and not, and sentence accordingly. When our judgements are around what is wrong with a person, organisation or situation rather than on what God has given them, we reduce them in our mind. Our thinking lowers the status, esteem, quality and character of another and suffering and negativity results.
We end up not only punishing others but ourselves as well, and being unable to receive what God has given them.
The most courageous thing we can ever do is be generous in the face of tempting judgement. For too long Christianity has been defined by what we see as the problem and not who we see as the answer.
In effect we have worshipped sin and all that is wrong with others and the world, rather than the answer to it. We practiced experiencing not the presence of God but the presence of negativity, condemnation and shame.
When we lift Jesus up and our delight is in God, the answer, this will draw all men. (John 12:32) What are we drawing?
Practicing generosity is our way forward. It will break off judgemental thinking and set us free to show up and be, and remain who we really are.
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