A lot of people find themselves confused when it comes to the topic of judgment.
Are we to judge or not?
I personally believe there are few things as damaging to us as choosing to judge others. Throughout the scriptures we hear that in judging others we bring judgment upon ourselves.
In fact one of our favourite “offering” passages is not about money but about how our judgments will backfire on us.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Judgment vs Observation
There is a big difference between judgment and observation.
Observation simply observes the things that people are doing.
Judgment requires us to then presume to know why they are doing them.
There is nothing judgmental about observing something that is clearly unfolding before our eyes.
The danger is that we then jump into judgment when we assume we know why people do the things they do.
Why is this so dangerous? Because we see and interact with the world through our own personal lens.
The problem is nobody else does. They are all busy seeing and interacting with he world through theirs.
This means that when others do something they shouldn’t – or maybe they do something that hurts us – we tend to filter it through our experience of it and not theirs.
We ultimately create a reality that isn’t true. And then have to live under the burden of that reality.
Imagine one day you wake up and think “I’m going to encourage my pastor”. You decide to post a nice encouraging word on their Facebook. Days pass and there is no reply – they’ve replied to some other things but not yours.
Then on Sunday when they come walking down the aisle at Church you smile and say “hi pastor” only to be completely ignored! They just keep walking down the aisle to the front.
What are you to think?
This is where we need to ask will we judge or observe?
Judgment starts evaluating everything based on assumptions. Based on our experience of the event rather than what actually happened.
Judgment starts to say “the pastor doesn’t like me” or “the pastor doesn’t have time for someone like me” or any other number of things.
In this we find that we start to live under our judgment of the other person.
By judging the pastor we start to experience separation and distance. But this reality is one we have created because we actually have no idea what is going on!
If we choose not to judge the pastor’s actions but rather just observe what we know we realise we don’t know much.
We know they didn’t reply to us on Facebook and walked past us in Church without acknowledging us.
Any number of things could explain those facts.
Instead of creating a reality that is mostly likely completely untrue at the end of the service you might try connect with the pastor. Perhaps you ask “hey did you get my message this week on Facebook? I just wanted to encourage you with how great a job you are doing.”
The pastor might turn around and say, “sorry I didn’t reply but I was having a very busy day dealing with some very difficult things. Actually – your message was such a gift from God as it gave me the encouragement to keep going.”
In the rest of your conversation you find out that the pastor only had 3hrs sleep the night before. He had been called out to hospital to minister to a family whose son had just been in a fatal accident.
Perhaps that is a more likely explanation as to why he didn’t notice you when he came in that morning.
Other people aren’t thinking about you 24/7
Observation at it’s core recognises that people are living primarily thinking about their own lives… not yours! (Sorry if that’s come as a shock to you!)
It recognises that when you make everything about you then you totally miss the point.
99/100 times when someone wrongs me it was never about me!
They weren’t even thinking about me!
I just caught in the crossfire of them being wrapped up in their own lives.
But when I choose to judge why they did what they did, I tend to assume it was all about me!
In judging I create my own little reality and then it is poured back upon me, shaken down and pressed together.
I live under the burden of my judgment.
Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m preaching to myself. But hopefully it’s made you think…
Am I living unnecessarily under my own judgments and can I make a shift in the way I see the actions of others to free myself from those judgments?