Aspects of Love: Judge Not
Today I’d like to discuss how a judgmental attitude is detrimental to relationships of any sort. And the difficulty of the subject is found primarily in the fact that most of the time we don’t realize that we are judging, or if we recognize it, we believe ourselves to be justified in doing so. I’m indebted to Terry Francis for sparking the insight here, and what he has to say on the subject is very helpful.
To judge something is to come to a final conclusion about it. Judgment goes beyond evaluating the current state of a thing and renders an opinion about the thing itself on the whole. With people, to judge a person is to conclude that they are X thing and then to allow that thing for which we have judged them to form the entire basis of our interactions with that person. For instance, if I have the opportunity to build a friendship with a co-worker, I might reflect on how I’ve observed her in the office and think, “No, I’ll keep my distance. She’s a gossip.” In a sense, I’ve judged her character—I’ve seen that she is a person that gossips and therefore it wouldn’t be wise to befriend her. I haven’t become judgmental yet. However, another co-worker might comment, “Sue is such a gossip. I can’t stand people like that and I won’t have anything to do with her.” Aside from the hypocrisy of the statement, this person has a judgmental attitude toward our coworker. She has allowed her dislike of gossiping to form the entire basis of her interactions with Sue.
Judgment is closely tied to rejection because when we judge a person our next step will be to reject them. This is because we have chosen to view them as nothing more than that character trait we dislike. Whatever just deserts we feel ought to be experienced by someone “like that” we act out. And perhaps most significantly, once we have judged, we no longer seek reconciliation. Because we believe that we have seen accurately into their heart, we don’t come to them to tell them we were offended, rather we decide that it would not be of any use because we already know they are X. As Francis points out, there could be any number of reasons a person does something or acts a certain way. When we judge, we leave no room for mitigating circumstances, misunderstandings, or genuinely different expectations. Even if the person is 100% in the wrong, it’s possible that they haven’t yet seen their fault and if they were confronted with it they would ask forgiveness and change. Therefore, a judgmental attitude makes it impossible to overcome offenses and to reconcile.
Judgement can also cause us to misread a person’s character. Because we have focused on one or two aspects of their personality and allowed those aspects to loom largest, we then ignore many other qualities which would cause us to see them in a different light. Are there terrible, horrible people in the world? Of course there are. I’m not saying that we have to go out and befriend everyone; I’m saying that we ought to simply allow wisdom to guide our interactions with people instead of our judgments about them, and then to allow love to move us to reach out to them to seek reconciliation and change.
Oftentimes people will disappoint, but insofar as it depends upon us, we ought to be at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:18)
with no bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, or judgment in our heart toward anyone.