Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
–Luke 6:37 NIV
When taking walks along the shore, the tendency has been to fill my pockets with only the perfect shells. Especially the shiny ones that are perfectly ridged and shaped for display at home. Yes, the perfect shells are beautiful and have that “shell shop” quality to them. But I have come to realize, that the broken shells are the ones that have the story to tell. They have been tumbled, stepped on and knocked around the ocean floor as the tides brought them to shore. They have weathered the storms and currents of the sea. I can relate to the broken shell, can you? Sometimes I don’t feel at the top of my game, in perfect condition or form. Life can take a swipe at us every now and then, and we are stung with painful circumstances or events that begin to chip away at us. A crack or a break in a shell makes it less desirable to the shell-seeker, but in our lives, the more storms we can weather and ride out, the more strength and wisdom we gain, which is another way of growing more spiritually.
There are only perfect shells, not perfect people. God doesn’t want us to try to be perfect because He knows and has taught us that it cannot be. Only He is perfect. He accepts us as we are. He loves us with our flaws, the mistakes we make and will continue to make. He loves the person He hopes we will become if we stay fixed on Him. Although we celebrate everyone’s uniqueness, there can be occasions where we can have a tendency to judge those that are different from us. To have a ministry of criticalness or to judge is not wise. Instead of our judgment, perhaps it is our help that is needed. Let our first instinct be to reach out, rather than to look down or look away. God calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, especially those that seem most unlovable, like a broken shell.