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How Should I Respond to a Judgmental Person?

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Maybe many of us have lost our margins and sense of grace. How are you known – what is your reputation? Are you known for your sharp tongue? When I die, I want to be known by family and friends as a man of grace.
By Seth Barnes

Judgmental people frustrate me.

I want to respond in kind – crossing swords with them. But Gene Horne changed my perspective with his story of God speaking to him. Since hearing his story, I try to live differently.

Horne was a businessman and missionary.  I only heard him speak once, but the story he shared colors the way I view our assignment down here on earth.  In fact, I found it so profound that years later, I called him back just to check the details.  Here they are:

When Horne was a younger man, a faith healer came to town.

Signs appeared on buildings and telephone poles all over town well in advance of the evangelist and his team.  Horne had high expectations.

On the day of the crusade, Horne arrived, brimming with curiosity.  But the crowd in attendance was much smaller than he’d expected.  And when the evangelist came out on stage, he did not fit Horne’s picture of a faith healer.  As the service wore on, things seemed to go from bad to worse.  After preaching for 20 minutes, they spent nearly as long on the offering, seeming to want to squeeze the last dime out of the audience.

Finally the time came when the evangelist was going to pray for people.  By this time, Horn had grown cynical.  “This is ridiculous,” he thought to himself.

But then the most amazing thing began to happen.  As he prayed for the sick, they were healed!  Horn could not believe his eyes.  The miracles were undeniable.

It seemed so out of place with the cheesy way in which the man conducted his ministry that Horn became indignant.  “God, how in the world is it that this man is seeing all this happen?  Why are you blessing his ministry?”  He asked.

It was then that one of the most flabbergasting and humbling experiences of Horne’s life occurred.  In the middle of the auditorium, God spoke to Horne in an audible voice:

“How dare you criticize one of my flawed servants; you’re one too.”

Horne was amazed and crestfallen.  The rebuke changed everything.  “We’re all flawed servants,” he realized.  We’re all Pharisees lined up with accusations and stones we’re waiting to throw.  But amazingly, God restricts himself to work through us. He’s looking for a posture of humility that results in an attitude of grace.

Maybe many of us have lost our margins and sense of grace during Covid. How are you known – what is your reputation? Are you known for your sharp tongue? When I die, I want to be known by family and friends as a man of grace. Goodness knows I need it…

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