When We Miss the Fruits by Our Snap Judgments

cut apple next to baked apple pie - photo by stephanie monfette on Unsplash

The apple tree in our front yard stands expansively as a remnant of the apple orchard that once spanned our community. I took one bite of the sour fruit and declared them crab apples, just like the ones my dad had to clean up when they fell in the yard. My neighbor across the way, Rosie, watched the apples on our tree fall to the ground, one by one. She was raised on a farm and knew her way around the kitchen. After one season, she had seen enough. “Would you mind if I came and took some of the apples that have fallen from your tree?” she asked, offering to take only those that lay on the ground.

“Of course not,” I answered. “Take as many as you want from the tree as well.”

Thus began a great friendship. Rosie saw value in the apples that I dismissed as “deer food” or a nuisance to be raked. The apples were treasures to her. She made jams and apple butter, apple tarts and apple pies. She brought her delicacies to her church bake sales, provided refreshments to her women’s groups, and shared them with us. I had missed the divine gift she captured in the sour apples.

Recently, I thought about Rosie and the apples as I reflected on how God’s love is inclusive and expansive. He loves all of us, unconditionally and without exception, and calls us to do the same. In what ways do I miss other fruits? I wonder. How may I be blind to the best parts of the people in front of me? When I am quick to judge people, I may miss their fruits.

To be Christian is to love our neighbors without exception. We are called to turn against hate, exclusion, and rejection. And time and time again, we acknowledge our imperfections and invite God’s grace to redeem us despite our sins.

So why does judgment come so easily to us? In the last few weeks alone, I have been a bit judge-y toward self-described evangelicals who don’t go to church, aggressive panhandlers, and even people on video calls who don’t turn on their cameras. I am hardly alone, I know. Our culture teaches us to judge from our earliest days. We are taught to model “good, kind, right” behavior and to avoid “bad, unkind, wrong” acts. It is a short walk, I suppose, from calling “bad acts” to ascribing evil to the actors.

Learning to judge has its place in discerning personal decisions. It is when we apply critical, harsh, and dismissive judgments to others that we allow love to take a backseat. Our judgments are often unloving; they wound and divide us. They separate us from the love of God. Who are we to act as judge and jury? Only God can do that.

What if we reserve our strict codes of behavior to our own lives? “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” (John 8:7) That gives us plenty to work on, doesn’t it?

Embodying the love of Christ calls us to suspend judgment of others and double down on love and compassion. As with the apples, it may be time to mix the sweet with the sour. Let’s listen more and look for God’s presence in each person we encounter.

Photo by stephanie monfette on Unsplash.

Previous articleStarting from a Position of Freedom
Next articleTuning In to God’s Voice
Gerri Leder is a participant in the Ignatian Business Chapter (IBC), a group founded as the Woodstock Business Chapter. She prayed the life-changing 19th annotation in 2017 and the 12 Weeks in Manresa retreat through the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies at Boston College, bringing the retreat to her parish in 2023. Earlier, she founded and led a marketing consultancy in financial services before shifting her focus to transition coaching and leading groups. She has been a certified coach through the International Coaching Federation and a group spiritual director trained through Shalem Institute. A graduate of the University of Richmond, Gerri earned an MBA in marketing from Loyola University in Maryland. Gerri enjoys all manner of outdoor activities, including cycling, hiking, crabbing, and kayaking.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Gerri, this certainly resonates with what I was sharing in our small group. Currently praying for the grace to accept my feelings about someone as a reaction to my imperfections and to try to view them with the compassion and love of God. Each is a gift to us, and it is my problem if I decline to open the gift.

    • Jeanne, of the gifts of the Exercises, this is a gem: self love and a deeper understanding of God’s unconditional love despite our imperfections. Grace is given not earned. Peace.

  2. Wow, Gerri, this hit me squarely between the eyes today. The pastor of our church has recently started a spiritual growth group that examines the Holy Spirit in our lives and the next session will focus on the Daily Examen. So while looking it up, came upon your blog. It was/is so timely.

  3. This post really spoke to me. I am quite good at snap judgements. I pray daily during my examen to be vigilant in my acceptance of others and finding compassion.

  4. What a beautifully written blog! I thoroughly enjoyed reading and reflecting on your astute observations. I think we all need to work on being judgmental when we should be expressing compassion and understanding. Like weight loss though, I think it is probably a life long journey, at least it is for me…..LOL! I’m so happy that Steven posted this blog so I had a chance to read it.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here