Have you ever been concerned with what others might be thinking of you? We all have times when we feel that we're doing our best, but that our best still seems subject to misconceptions, judgments, even condemnation (not to mention the times when self-condemnation convinces us we've failed in some way). Maybe we've even apologized many times over, been genuinely sorry, and yet someone has held something against us for which we feel we can never make amends. Such a thing occurred with me.
You see, early in my marriage I thought it was time for my husband's blue quilted jacket-with the holes in the back-to "move on." I really felt we had discussed this and that he had given his consent. Over the next twenty-five years this would periodically come up-that I had thrown out his favorite jacket! More recently, in a store, we met a buddy of his who was wearing a very ancient-looking sweater. The subject came up of how much he loved his sweater and that his wife was always trying to get rid of it. This immediately led to the "favorite blue jacket" issue. Then this man stood there and rebuked me severely for my misjudgment. Again those feelings of genuine repentance flooded over me, and the feeling that this was something I could never make up for lingered.
I decided then that my only possible recourse was to forgive two people-for their lack of forgiveness of me! When I was at that crossroad, wondering if I could ever feel truly free of condemnation, this phrase from the textbook of Christian Science, written by Mary Baker Eddy, came to mind: "reformation cancels the crime." It is from a sentence that says, "If the evil is over in the repentant mortal mind, while its effects still remain on the individual, you can remove this disorder as God's law is fulfilled and reformation cancels the crime" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 404). What a relief! If I had truly reformed-in this case seen how I could have done better-that was enough for God! Another statement from Science and Health says: "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,-a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love" (p. 1). Well, I knew I had reformed. I would never throw out another jacket (or, for that matter, any item precious to someone). Now, I felt, I was home free!
But then my mom and my mother-in-law were visiting, and I was wondering what they might think about something I was doing. And these words came to thought: "There is only one judgment." It occurred to me that there isn't the Word of God (which constitutes all righteous judgment) and then what others think, too. God's judgment is all there is.
You see, for years my family teased me about how I used to "shirk" housework. My dad used to say, "We have two lazy Susans in our house!" (we had a lazy susan on our kitchen table). This was cute, until I found I really did have problems getting things accomplished around the house. It seemed everything kept me from getting started, and I didn't know why.
Fortunately, when the remembrance of those judgments from the past came to mind, this Bible verse accompanied the thought: "Let my sentence come forth from thy presence" (Psalms 17:2). I saw that I didn't have to be "sentenced" to be a "lazy Susan" all my life! As one who follows the teaching of Christ Jesus, and the divine laws of God that underlie his teachings (which Mrs. Eddy discovered and named Christian Science), I knew God had created me to express motivation, order, accomplishment. That evening I accomplished a gigantic amount of housework with joy and no fatigue.
Jesus said, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). I take this to mean we should never judge a situation according to how we think we might appear to others (or even how others appear to us), but we should always make our judgments based on the fact that we want to do what is right, what is good, what is of God. The Bible asks this question: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). Remembering this, we never need fear what others might be judging of us. Obeying God, who looks on our heart, we are under the only judgment that counts.