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At the heart of judgment is blame and at the heart of blame is a denial of grace. The heart which is filled with judgment says, “I am not worthy of grace and neither are you!” Our ability to forgive others is closely linked to our ability to forgive ourselves because both stem from our understanding of the work of God’s grace in our lives. Judgment is a denial of grace. This denial of grace is a disease which, to varying degrees, we are born into. From the earliest days of childhood we compare ourselves with others and make judgments as to who is better or worse. We seem to be born with a bent toward judgment which is like a deeply embedded tick which is not easily loosed.

I do not like bugs. Were I to make a list of the bugs which I admire the least, I would no doubt place the tick very near the top of that list. When I was a child growing up in Northern California my family traveled extensively throughout the West Coast as a result of my step-father’s love of the game of softball. We took wonderful trips to the coastal mountains of Oregon, Lake Tahoe, and cities all over the West Coast. I remember one trip to Santa Cruz. My mother had told me and some of my weekend travel league softball kid friends that we were not to venture far from the softball field area. The park was nestled beautifully in the coastal mountains and we were not likely to listen to her instructions!


When we got a chance to sneak away, we went for a hike in the mountains for what turned into a very long time as we got lost on the trails. Eventually we made our way back to where were supposed to be and no one seemed to be the wiser of our adventure through the woods. After we arrived back near the softball field, however, I felt something on my neck that I thought must have been a leaf or small piece of mud or something to that effect. Very much to my disliking, my travel companion realized that it was a large black tick! No knowing the proper way to remove a tick and also not wanting to alert our parents, we commenced to use every means within our power to remove the tick; including, but not limited to, a picket knife, a borrowed lighter, and eventually a rather sharp stick!


A tick is not easy to remove. This is especially true when you do not have the right tools or knowledge for the job. A heart filled with judgment is just as difficult to correct when we do not have the right tools or the appropriate knowledge to affect the change which we desire. We go through our lives longing for forgiveness as we carry our alabaster box around with us, not knowing where to turn for the freedom of forgiveness which we seek. We carry our alabaster boxes around with inside of us longing for someone to accept us for who we are, longing for freedom from our addictions to judging others and judging ourselves. The woman who anointed Jesus feet and the Pharisees were not nearly as far apart as both would have assumed and both have preferred to think.

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