Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Tendency to Judge

 One of the concepts in Scripture with which I have wrestled long and hard is the concept of judging. It is something we all do whether we admit it or not. We judge one product as being better than another. This kind of judgment can be beneficial and create accountability for companies to offer better products. As a boss we may judge one person as better than another when we compare the way they do their jobs. That can help a boss make decisions on who to promote or to hire the best person for a job. After all, what boss wouldn't wants to hire a person who demonstrates good performance, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to learn new things to help a company grow? We, as consumers, may also judge professionals. For example we may judge one doctor as better than another because he listens to his patients, is considerate of their time, and continuously makes wise decisions for them. We may judge others' words as either helpful and uplifting or as wounding and soul-crushing. These kinds of judgments help us foster relationships with those who are more nurturing and less apt to continuously hurt us. We may judge the actions of others and even ourselves as either good or bad. These kinds of judgments can be useful when they are aligned with Scripture to help us to choose not to sin. 

There are judgments that are not godly. John 7:24 says, "Do not judge by appearances, judge with right judgment." The judgments that are not godly are many. This can apply to how we look at situations, events, people, ourselves, and our relationships. We might judge a circumstance as bad, when really it is orchestrated by God; designed to mature us. Some judgments become ungodly when we choose to judge someone's heart and not value them as an image bearer because of external things we see--things like skin color, educational level, the part of town in which a person lives, a person's dress, they way they speak, the way they act, their religion or lack there of, or their denomination. Many of us even harshly judge ourselves.

I confess I have been one who judged other people and myself without even realizing it. I had to become more mindful of what was going on inside of me to realize I did it. I think the concept of judging first came up in a counselor's office when I expressed the anger and hurt I had been stuffing for years. In the beginning most of the anger and judgments were turned inward, judging myself so harshly that I silently screamed hateful names at myself--names I would never say to someone else--names that crushed my spirit far more than any other person had. I didn't like who I'd become. I didn't like how I related to others. And I hated myself because I couldn't change faster. I hated me for not being the perfect me I always envisioned me to be.

A few years ago I broke my knee and spent the night on a gurney in the emergency room. They were busy and didn't have a room for me so my gurney was pushed up against the wall between two doors. Late in the night my exhausted husband leaned his head against the gurney and nodded off. I couldn't sleep and it seemed like every nurse who entered one of the rooms near by bumped the gurney, increasing my pain. When my husband woke up, I told him I didn't understand how he could sleep with them bumping the gurney so hard. He looked puzzled and said he hadn't noticed them bumping it. I realized it was because I was already in pain that the bumps and brushes seemed bigger than they were. 

I also realized the way I perceived life, how much pain I emotionally experienced in the present, and how I related were greatly impacted by emotional wounds from my past that had never healed. We all get knocked around. Some are fortunate and able to express pain, have it acknowledged by others, and healed. But for many their emotional pain gets stuffed and remains unhealed, impacting them in such away they either overreact or under react to each new 'bump" experienced in the same way my husband and I perceived and reacted differently to the bumps experienced in the ER.   

As I faced past pain, I was able to grieve what I'd never grieved before--broken relationships, wounding actions of others, losses incurred through death, hurtful words that shaped my view of me, and the losses incurred as a result of an isolating eating disorder. I realized I'd dealt with life by denying the story I lived—the very story authored by God. As I began to come out of denial and accept the story God was writing, I learned to grieve and let go of pain of the past. It gave me insight as to why I reacted to life, people, God, and myself as I did. As I healed, I accepted myself without judgment and looked at myself with curiosity, allowing me to face sin graciously and grow faster than I did when I heaped harsh judgments on myself. Understanding myself helped me see why I have made choices I made, said the things I said, and did the things I did—the good, the bad, and the down right ugly. It, helped me reach a point I was able to be gracious to myself and as I’ve gained more compassion for myself, I dwelt less on my sin. When I gave up the self-contempt and confessed sin I was able to let go of shame and move past it more quickly. As I grieved and let go of emotional pain, I found the hurts of today more bearable. 

I also realized I was often confused by the way people acted or reacted. After being bumped on that gurney, I realize I didn’t understand because I didn’t know their stories. I didn't know the traumas they had endured that had shaped their view of themselves, others, God, and life. I didn't know the resources and support they had or didn't have to help them recover. I didn’t know about the biting words they heard that crushed their spirits and deflated their hope of being who God created them to be. I didn't know the history behind the different relationships they had that from the outside looked great, but grieved their hearts deeply. I didn't know about the losses they experienced and never grieved that created a relational starvation a long with an enormous fear of abandonment keeps them from what their heart desires. 

The sense of curiosity I've gained from counseling enabled me to not only be able to look at myself with curiosity, it enabled me to look at others with it, too. I want to know what makes them laugh, cry, cringe, scream, become angry, and love instead of assuming they are “crazy,” “immature,” or “bad.” I want to know how they view their Creator and what it would take for them to trust Him with their whole being. I'm less apt to judge their worth from the external and more apt to ask about their stories enabling me to learn what drives their decision making, their actions and their reactions, and what triggers their defenses or lowers them enough to allow one to peek inside. 

Letting go of wrong judgments enables me to love more like Jesus loved. It enables me to speak the truth more gently. It enables me to point someone toward a godlier path without triggering shame that could deepen the wounds their bear. I am much more apt to listen to someone's pain than to hand them empty platitudes that falsely imply they are less spiritual for struggling. 

Most importantly, I am honored when someone shares their story with me. Instead of judging them for how they have lived their story, I find myself thanking God that He has allowed me to be given the sacred trust of listening as I ask Him to give me the discernment to know when to be silent, when to speak, and what words would be honey to their wounded heart. Hopefully, God will continue to remind me that He is the only just judge and use me to encourage others when they need hope the most. 


  1. You are so welcome! I appreciate your reading and commenting!

  2. When my heart is open and vulnerable I can see past the externals and have deep compassion for others who are in a hard and difficult place on their journey.



Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!