It was Christmas Eve at the Hallmark store and the elderly cashier didn't even look up when I said hello. I thought she might not have heard me.
"Merry Christmas!" I said.
Still no response.
"That stuffed animal we're buying is for our new baby – she could come any day now."
The woman barely looked up and coldly said, "You got anything else?"
"Nope – that's it. Just a little Christmas present for my new baby."
The woman charged my card and didn't speak.
"Well, have a merry Christmas," I said. She didn't respond.
I was irritated. I understood that the cashier might be tired but the rudeness was uncalled for. As I walked away from the counter, the manager happened to be standing close by. I stopped and casually told her that the staff at the counter could stand to work on their people skills.
"I know exactly which staff member you're talking about," the manager replied. "And all I can say is, you never know what people are going through."
I walked away taken aback, wondering what it was that had silenced the cashier (I still wonder to this day). For all I knew, her son had died or she had just been diagnosed with cancer. Maybe she had been evicted from her home. Or maybe she just had a headache – why did I care?
Scripture says: "In passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things." (Romans 2:1).
As Oswald Chambers writes in “My Utmost for His Highest”: "If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own. Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. ... Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation."
God didn't appoint me to evaluate that woman's work performance, much less appoint me to evaluate her at all. He called me to love others. And while loving others may occasionally require me to point out a serious and legitimate wrong, I'm called to do it with loving humility (Galatians 6:1).
Judging comes so easily. I've judged pastors for preaching awful sermons, bad drivers, school teachers, chronic gamblers, moms on the playground glued to their cell phones – to name a few.
We need to give the world a break, stop looking for people's imperfections and let God take care of evaluating others. In doing so, we'll be able to dislodge the plank of timber from our eye and see that we need just as much grace as everyone else.