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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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Resist the temptation to judge others


Tonight, as I watch 53 contestants grace a stage in Las Vegas to compete to become Miss America 2013, I will be reminded of my own time competing for the storied title. Like many little girls, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would eagerly reply, “Miss America!”

When I was old enough to compete, I won a local title and made my way to the weeklong competition that would determine who would represent Maryland in that year’s national pageant. Even though the official competition did not begin until preliminaries on Thursday, the judging actually started the moment we walked into orientation.

Who were the judges, you might ask? Well, we would not meet the official judges for a few more days, but the judges in the room that morning were the other contestants. From the minute we walked into the room, we began sizing each other up.

As I assessed the other ladies, every time I saw someone who looked like she was strong competition, my defenses would go up and I would try to find something wrong with them. “She is pretty, but her thighs are big. Her community service is strong, but she can’t put two words together to form a complete sentence. She speaks well, but her makeup is awful.”

My experience at that pageant is not really any different from what many of us encounter in our everyday lives. How often do we find ourselves sizing up the people around us as though we were in competition with them? We compare ourselves to them and when we feel as if we don’t measure up, we try to find their faults as a way of making ourselves feel better.

But life is not like a pageant where there is only one winner. God has given each of us gifts that we are to use to serve Him. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that “just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ . Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Each one of us is a particular part of the same body. Just as the parts of our body contribute differently to our lives, we each contribute something different to the body of Christ—His church and His people.

In Ephesians 2:10 we read that, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” When each of us was created, God gave us the gifts and talents we would need in order to accomplish His specific plan for our lives.

When we take our eyes off of what God has called us to do and start coveting another person’s gifts or judging their weaknesses, we risk losing the great blessings that He prepared for us.

Instead of doubting ourselves, we need to daily thank God for all of the talents He has given us and ask Him to show us how we can best use those gifts to serve Him.

The next time you feel tempted to judge another person in your life, would you pray for him instead? When you are praying for someone’s success and well-being, your heart towards him changes from critical to caring—from judging to loving.

Only one young woman will get to hear “There She Is, Miss America” sung to her as she walks the runway with a sparkling crown upon her head this evening. But by using our talents and keeping our eyes on God instead of judging each other, we all can look forward to hearing the Lord commend us by saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23).

Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who resides in Fredericksburg. Contact her through her website,