Between flights at an air terminal, a lady goes to a lounge, buys a small package of cookies and sits down on a bench to read the paper.
Soon she hears a rustling noise next to her. Glancing sidewise from behind her newspaper she is flabbergasted to see a neatly dressed man helping himself to her cookies.
Not wanting to make a scene, she ignores him and leans over to take a cookie herself. Maybe he will get the hint.
A minute or two passes and there is more rustling.
Now they are down to the last cookie.
By this time she is so angry she has to bite her tongue to keep from saying something.
And now, to add insult to injury, the man takes that last cookie, breaks it in two, pushes half across to her, eats the other half, and then gets up and leaves.
Some time later she is still steamed when her flight is announced. She opens her purse to get her ticket.
There, to her shock and amazement, she finds her package of cookies – unopened!
Things were not at all what she thought they were. In fact, her thoughts about the man sitting next to her were entirely wrong. He was not a selfish and rude stranger after all. He was in fact quite kind. In fact, she had been eating his cookies!
In explaining the 8th commandment (“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”) Luther reminded us not only to refrain from telling lies about our neighbor (slander), but also to “defend him, speak well of him and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.”
Our sinful nature gladly believes the best about our own words and actions – and the worst about someone else’s. In saying “Judge not,” Jesus teaches us the difference between righteous judgment – and rushing to judgment with cookie crumbs on our own face.