Judging- One of my Favorite Topics!

ALL the time we hear, “Don’t judge”.  Supposedly it’s even in the Bible.

HOGWASH!     FIDDLE-FADDLE!    POPPYCOCK!

I judge all the time.  So do you.  It is good and necessary.

I judge that it is prudent to wear a jacket today because it’s cold.  I judge that this movie is better than that movie.  I judge that a vegan diet is better than a high protein one.  I judge that this restaurant is excellent and that one is unfit to eat at (like an unnamed fast food restaurant- my daughter just started working there and shared a few things…).  I judge that this laptop is a better buy than that one.  I judge that I won’t buy from ____ because they support _____.     (Or I WILL buy from ___ because they support ____.)   I judge that I will have enough time today to do all my work AND still have time to go out to supper.   All day long we form judgments.

I used to think it was okay to judge “things” but not people.  Again hogwash!  We judge people all the time, also.  Again, this is not bad.   I judge this person to be (or not be) a suitable babysitter for my children.  I judge this political candidate more worthy of my vote than that one.  I judge this speaker worth listening to over that one.  I judge this author worth reading as compared to that author. (I suppose in a way that is judging their writing, not them.  But I might pick up a certain author’s book based on what I know about them, based on a judgment I have made of them.)  If I am an employer, I will judge this job applicant more suited for the job than that one.

Dictionary definition : judgment (www.dictionary.com)  the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion

Now, if we are smart, we will make wise judgments, and gather as much information as possible to make good and sensible judgments, especially in more critical decisions (such as what diet is best, and who we will vote for as President, where we will live, what career path we shall take).

And we will base judgments on what we see and hear.  I (and you) will form very different judgments of a man dressed in an Armani suit with impeccable grooming as compared to one with stringy dreadlocks and a tattered T-shirt.  This doesn’t mean one person is BETTER than another.  But what people (we) say, how we act and dress DOES affect how people judge us.

Can we be wrong in our judgments?    Certainly.    Happens all the time (to varying degrees).  So if we find we are wrong, we adjust as we are able.  If I hire a babysitter I had judged to be good and find out she’s incompetent, I’ll hire someone else.  If I vote for a candidate who wins and turns out to be a “bad” president, I’m stuck with it (except for political activism to remedy that which I see/ judge to be wrong).  There’s no sin in being wrong.    Rash judgment is foolish and imprudent.  Sometimes we have little information with which we can make a judgment.   (Say you’re out with friends and on the spur of the moment go to the local theater with seven movies showing, none of which you really know anything about.  You can ask your friends, or the theater staff, you can look at the posters, but you really have limited information and time to make a good judgment of which movie to see.)    If that’s the case, do the best you can.  As I said, find out what you can, then make your judgment.

Back to the Bible.  When the Bible refers to not judging, what it means is not condemning.  To condemn is wrong.  To judge is good.   I cannot condemn another for their actions.  I can judge certain actions to be right or wrong.  If I think abortion is wrong (and I do), and I see a 13 yo girl get an abortion, I cannot condemn her.  She may have been forced into it by well-meaning parents or adults.  (Really the same for a 25 yo.   But I judge that a 13 yo pregnant may be less able to make good decisions, like not aborting, than a 25 yo.   But that judgment may be wrong sometimes, maybe the 25 yo is unable to make good choices.)  So judge, but don’t condemn.

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is “right judgment”.  This means the gift of being able to form good, accurate judgments.  So don’t tell me the Bible says not to judge.  (As I said, condemnation is different.)

There IS right and wrong.  You can say that is my opinion, so be it.  But there is right and wrong.  Everyone thinks so.  We may differ in WHAT we consider right and wrong, but it is there.   No one would condone child abuse, everyone would say that is wrong (except maybe a very very few).

And yes, I WILL tell you what I think is right and wrong, and try to convince you I am correct.  How fervently I do that depends on many things.  If it’s the movie, I really don’t care much so long as it’s not R-rated.  If you’re my 18 yo daughter, unwed and pregnant thinking about abortion, I will go to great lengths to convince you that is a wrong choice.   If you’re my husband and watching internet porn, I’d work real hard to get you to see the errors of your ways.   I won’t force my views on anyone, but I will share them, and share why I think they are right and why you could adopt them as your own.   Sometimes I think people get confused about sharing what’s right and wrong and “forcing” their views on someone.

If I were to tell my 18 yo pregnant daughter with no job or financial resources that if she has an abortion, she can’t live here anymore, even that is not forcing my beliefs on her.  She is free to make her own choice, is she chooses abortion, she also chooses not to live at home anymore.   I’m not “kicking her out”.   (By the way, I’d never do that.  I’d never give a person in that situation that kind of ultimatum.  Like I said, I’d try mightily to convince her abortion is wrong, but if she chose it anyway, I’d still love her and try to help in any way I could.)

Again, I could be wrong in my judgments.  But I’m going to live my life based on what I think is right, knowing I’m not perfect and may err sometimes.  I try to be open to new ideas, and I am more than willing to revise my judgments.  Sometimes I learn something new, or have certain experiences that lead me to rethink something.  That is good, wise.

A key when talking with people is knowing what terms mean, knowing what the other person means by certain words.   THINK about what you say.  So when you say (or hear), “Don’t judge,” does the speaker really mean, “Don’t condemn?”  I think usually that is the case.

So, go about your day today, and your week this week thinking about judgment.  Call people on it, if they say, “Don’t judge.”  Ask them if they really mean, “Don’t condemn?”   Teach them that judgment is good.

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