A few weeks ago I attended a musical put on by one of our local high schools. I went because my son had done some video work for it, one of the young people from church was in it, and, frankly, I enjoy musicals. I was enjoying this one. I was pleasantly surprised at the professionalism demonstrated by these students. I recalled my high school days and the productions we put on and they in no way compared to the expertise these young people displayed. So I was having a good time.
Everyone else seemed to be enjoying it too. The auditorium was filled and the applause was thunderous -- except for the woman sitting next to me. I don't remember when I first noticed it but she was not applauding at all. While the rest of the audience was gleefully putting their hands together, she just sat there quietly.
I consciously watched her the next time applause rang out. Again, she didn't so much as move or acknowledge the performance in any way. I thought to myself, "Why did you come if you were going to just sit there? Don't you realize these young people need to be encouraged when they do good, worthwhile things?"
It became a distraction to me. My enjoyment was greatly diminished. In reality, not only was I distracted, I was becoming angry at this woman. "Perhaps," I thought, "she is jealous -- grudging these young people their youth and talents." "Maybe she thinks she is better than everyone else and that all this is beneath her." I carried such thoughts to intermission.
When I stood to stretch, so did she. Then she turned around. It was then I knew the truth -- she had only one hand. She could not have applauded even if she desperately wanted to. I felt stupid. I was glad I had not shared my feelings with anyone else. I was ashamed.
I wondered, "How many times have I jumped to conclusions about other people when I did not know the truth of their situation?" Our Lord told us we should not be quick to judge others (Matt. 7:1-2) but I had "jumped in with both feet." I was the self-centered one. I was the one who lacked sensitivity and understanding. I asked the Lord to forgive me. I smiled at the lady and said, "Good play, huh?" She replied, "It's wonderful! I am really enjoying it." Now, putting aside my selfishness, I could too.
Throughout our lives, as we live them for Christ, let us not be quick to judge others and impugn their motives. Only God knows their hearts (Acts 1:24). Let us let Him judge in matters of the heart.