Tuesday, April 26, 2011

As a child the Oreo cookie presented a unique challenge to me. I was never really sure if I was eating it correctly. There are at least four different ways to eat an Oreo cookie. The simplest way to eat a cookie is to take small bites of the cookie without disturbing the basic, original form. You can also dunk it in milk. You can separate it into two halves with the cream filling attached to one half leaving the other half bare. (The debate still rages about which half one should eat first.) And lastly, you can place the whole cookie in your mouth at once, which is quite convenient when in danger of being caught with a cookie in hand.

Today, I am inclined to say that there really is no one correct way to eat an Oreo. As my sign language teacher used to say in response to different ways of signing the same group of words, “that sign isn’t wrong, it is just different.”

As an adult I wrestle with how far to take my judgments. I am naturally analytical and critical. I like to take things apart and put them back together just to see how they work, but I will analyze those quirks in another blog for another day. Where is the line between good judgment and being judgmental?

We instill in our children the value of making good decisions and developing wisdom. We teach them not to touch the muffler of a small engine after it has been running for an hour even though it is quiet. Experience is harsh teacher, and her lessons make a lasting impression. We teach our children to speak truthfully at all times regardless of the consequences. It is never okay to lie. We quote Ephesians 4:15 – “we will speak the truth in love.”

We also cringe when our children are overly critical, racists, elitist, and sometimes too “truthful.” “That man doesn’t have any hair,” children are quick to note. We often dismiss children’s comments because they simply don’t know any better. But what do we make of adults who should know better, but simply don’t? What about when I am the adult that doesn’t know better. How do I know when I have crossed the line?

“Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong.” Romans 14:4

I have found that I should exercise good judgment and speak the truth in love in all issues that pertain directly to me and anyone for whom I am responsible. If I am not responsible for a person, then they are not my “servant”. And I don’t have the right or responsibility to make judgments.

I simply am not responsible for the free actions of other people. I am responsible for my actions and my words. And I am responsible for what I do with my Oreos.