Judge Not!

Do you know what I like about gardens? Wait; that question is WAY too open-ended! It could be answered a thousand ways!

One thing I like about gardens is that nobody can say, “You did that wrong,” when it comes to garden design.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything wrong in a garden. I might plant an iris too deeply, or in a spot that’s too wet; but this is about the arrangement of the garden, not the techniques.

Every garden spot is different, by its very nature. Location, shade, slope, and soil will affect the result.

When you add the plant selection, then the NATURAL selection (the weaker plants don’t survive), and the color selection, you get a bazillion possible combinations. Sure, there are fabulous gardens, and there are humdrum garden spots and even weedy messes. But let’s assume we are talking about gardens where there is some element of beauty. They cannot be condemned by visitors as being incorrect.

My friend Nicole, for example, has a huge space out in the back of her yard that she calls “the meadow.” In it you’ll find bee balm, daylilies, irises, and wildflowers. And Johnson grass. I don’t know who Mr. Johnson is, but I wish he would keep that nasty, invasive grass in his own yard! But in Nicole’s, it’s a part of the landscape. She has even taken professional photographs with it in the background, and they were beautiful!

Another friend, Jane, plants her flowers individually with ample mulched space in between. It allows the plants to breathe and show off their blooms. My garden is much more densely packed with perennials, with a few annuals tucked in wherever I can find space. The plants are so crowded that it’s hard to get into the beds for maintenance, but there is always plenty of color with all the various things blooming at different times.

Who is right? Jane, or Nicole, or me? All of us! We have entirely different styles, and the gardens are a delight to most of the people who visit. Only those who insist on tidy rows or a completely weed-free garden would object to any of these gardens.

We must be careful not to judge one another’s lives when it comes to choices that have no effect on our souls. I was astounded last week at the efforts by some very talented people in decorating a building for a Vacation Bible School. My style is more verbal. I think I do very well in sharing my excitement and love for God’s Word with children, but I’m not very adept at making the walls of a classroom enhance my teaching.

It’s not my place to criticize another person’s method of teaching if they rely more heavily on visuals but then read the lesson. That’s not my style, but it’s a beautiful thing that they have created!

There are millions of combinations in which one can serve God. Some work in foreign missions, some teach in prisons. Still others teach friends and neighbors. Some send cards to encourage others, others sew clothing or collect shoes to send to mission works.

Let’s encourage one another in creating something beautiful. Just as a garden is a work of art and creative thinking, so is our service to God. As long as it pleases our Creator, our lives are going to be different, but worthwhile and useful, as well as beautiful.

“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls” (Romans 14:4a)

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