Perhaps the number one thing that drew me to Nicaragua was it’s people. Every time I visited Nicaragua I was amazed at the love, passion, humility, and fortitude of the Nicaraguan people. They are a pleasure to both serve and to learn from. Yet, just like adjusting to any culture, there are some aspects here that make me shake my head. Now, to be fair, there were aspects of my previous two communities in the States I judged as well (I never understood why Wisconsinites put noodles in their chili, or why all dishes in Iowa require a can of creamy soup). Lately, I’ve been deriding the Nicaraguan practice of wetting down dirt roads in the morning. First of all, this means that my shoes are constantly getting muddy, which means my floor is constantly getting muddy. Second, it seems quite senseless to me, as Nicaragua has a major water shortage (there is a community near us in rapid decline because of its lack of a secure water source). Every time I see someone throwing a bucket of water on the street I want to scream about what a waste it is.
Really, its ridiculously for me to be judging this Nicaraguan practice. First of all, there is a rationale to it. It’s currently the dry and windy season, which means TONS of dust. This dust not only constantly gets things dirty, but can cause problems with breathing and damage machinery. By wetting down the roads every morning people are helping to minimize these problems, which they see as worth the expenditure as water. Second, what right does an American have to judge others about water usage? We water our lawns simply for beauty, take exceedingly long showers, think little about water usage in our homes, and more. Yet, despite my own wastefulness of water, here I am judging the people of Nicaragua.
Here’s my point in all this. We spend WAY too much of time and energy judging others. We judge their behavior, spending, driving, politics, appearance, preferences, and so much more. Often, I fear we spend more time judging the behavior of others then we do doing two things that are vastly more important: judging and confessing our own behaviors and loving others. As we go about this new year lets all try to live it in light of the following advice from Paul:
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Romans 14:10-13