I’m convinced that what we need is not less “judging” but better judgment. It is not “judgement” that destroys lives and leads to unkindness but “BAD judgement.”
In fact, “good judgement”, “wise judgement”, the ability to distinguish valuable from not-valuable, true beauty from facades, truth from lies, the ability choose the hard right thing instead of the fun wrong thing is not only beneficial but crucial.
– Bad judgement values looks and things and achievements more than people, and makes us elevate people to celebrity status resulting in “judging” others to be great and others not. Wise judgement understands that we’re all people, all susceptible to human limitations yet all potentially great, this leads to treating everyone equally, fairly, and generously.
– If we are so caught up with celebrities, which we are, then we obviously have bad judgement because we worship people for who a media factory produced them to be – instead of loving them for who they truly are. In fact in this case, we have judged wrongly twice: we have judged a person’s character for who he is projected to be not who he is, and we have judged that he is someone to look up to.
– Bad judgement values a period in time over another. Some people are always just looking to the future and missing today, some are throwing away the future living for today. Wise judgement knows that time is a flowing river, that each portion of our journey is connected so we value the lessons of the past, the moment of the present, and the potential of the future as all important and care for each in a way that enhances each period, not at the sake of one or the other. In the times that risked my future, such as my future family and future purpose to do something foolish in the present I showed bad judgement. I still judged, like we all really do but don’t want to admit, but I judged poorly.
– Bad judgement values the comfort of frictionless, shallow relationships, relationships that cannot confront nor correct but are marked with just fun and enjoyment and laughter. Now the latter are not bad, but when we surround ourselves only with people we’re comfortable and don’t challenge us the result is a mediocre life. We even have parents like this, more concerned with being liked by their kids than making sure they raise responsible, strong, and disciplined human beings who will have good judgement and show kindness to the world. At the root of this is the desire to be accepted and not rejected, when this is your criteria for making decisions you will make many bad judgement calls. No great athlete or musician or artist, no great anyone, ever reached greatness without friction, without someone telling them over and over and over “You’re not giving me your best. Try harder. Work harder. Fight harder. Be smarter. I want your best.” No great person ever said, “I’m going to make sure the world likes me.” No, truly great people sound more like this, “This is what I value. I’m going for it with everything I have and surrounding myself with people who will push and pull me there.”
Life is about decisions. Decisions are about making judgment calls on what, among options, are we going to choose. If we’re bad at making wise judgements we will inevitably make foolish choices, planting destructive seeds in our life that will bear painful fruit. At that point it doesn’t matter whether anyone judges us, the results of our lives will speak for themselves. At that point, no one will have to judge our marriages, they will broken already. At that point, no one will have to judge our ability to parent, the kind of people we raise will speak for themselves. At that point no one will have to judge us for being late, or being lazy, or being a brat, or being useless, the effects of all of this will be obvious. At that point, no one will have to judge us for anything, the quality of the kind of person we are will speak for itself.
And honestly, my life’s results weigh a lot more in my book. I don’t care so much about what people think of me than I care about what I see when I expose my soul to the mirror of the Bible, a mirror that judges me clearly for how ugly I truly am, yet pronounces me loved.
One of the things I hear a lot is this statement: “Don’t judge me” and they back this up with the verse in Matthew 7. All one needs to do is to read the whole paragraph to see that what Jesus was saying is “Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t judge others for things you yourselves will fail.” This goes not only for known sins but also for commonly accepted judgements. Let me give you an example of how bad judgement plays in real life:
1. We have a million crushes, making judgement calls on who is beautiful and who is not. This has resulted to making people feel uglier than ever. Why? Because you’ve made your primary judgement about looks and external beauty and your standard is a highly-made-up, multi-take, photoshopped individual. No wonder you try so hard to look good but always feel ugly in the end, because you know you’re going to take things off some day and will be left with who you really are.
2. We have made money such an ultimate that we work and work and work for it, losing the joy of working on one’s passion and seeing others with a money filter – those with money are great, those with less money are not. This leads to us thinking we can buy anything or anyone, but we can’t buy true relationships, those are paid for with time and effort, and we can’t buy time either. So we actually end up spending the time we need to build relationships, to earn the thing we cannot use to buy the intimacy we truly want. There is also the flip-side to this, where people don’t value money properly and judge it wrongly, leading to wasteful spending without real purpose aside from self-gratification. In both cases we are hypocritical, why? Because in both cases we have judged money as the true means to the ends we want. So we still do judge, bud judge wrongly.
I can go on and on and on about examples of how hypocritical judgement is detrimental, but just as detrimental is this idea that one can go through life without making wise judgement calls. Every single day you will be faced with decisions. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s wrong to judge. It’s wrong to judge hypocritically but you’re better off getting good at make great judgements, wise judgements.
Let me give you three verses in the Bible that actually tell us to judge:
JOHN 7:24: “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
PSALM 37:30: “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of judgment.”
PROVERBS 31:9: “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”
The Bible does tell us to judge, there’s even a book in the Bible called “JUDGES”. It tells us not to judge hypocritically, but to judge righteously, wisely, and purposefully, particularly in such a way that promotes justice for the poor and needy – those mostly unjustly treated.
Unjust treatment is the end result of a people who have been taught not to judge, so have never learned to treat valuable as valuable and trash as trash.
By only sticking to Matthew 7’s version of judging, we have made two wrong judgements of our own. First we forget that the Bible contains many paradoxes, things that are seemingly contradicting but actually are wise given the particular context. Second we judged this verse to be superior to the other verses on judging, so we’re guilty of that which we actually like to say is wrong.
Either way to be alive is to make choices daily, unless you plan on never choosing ever again, you’ll be doing a lot of judging. My advice is get wise so you can make the right one.