People are judgmental. Look, I know it looked bad. But there is a very good reason why I was wearing that dress.
There’s a bunch of ways for people to end up being judgmental. Here’s a couple.
1. We just don’t know the other side of the story.
Like you could come in from working overtime and were expecting dinner but instead see your wife, who didn’t work that day, just sitting down watching TV. You can immediately think she’s self-centered and lazy. But maybe the kids were insane and she had to deal with them all afternoon and this is the only time she’s had to sit down. In your rush to judgment, you didn’t understand her reasons for her behavior.
2. We think we are smarter than we are.
This happens every second when talking politics. For example, some people think it’s so clear to them that if you don’t believe in taxing the rich more, then you obviously don’t care about the poor, the elderly and puppies. But really you both want to help the poor but you have a different economic theory. Or we judge the way a parent raises their child because we of course are the source of all parental wisdom. Or we judge a family member for their sin because we totally know how to avoid sin.
What do both of those ways of being judgmental have in common? Self-righteousness.
In one way, we believe we know the whole story. The other way we believe we know truth. But if we are so awesome, they why are we still sinners just like them? We shouldn’t be standing in judgment over them. That’s not our place. That’s God’s.
So if God is judging them, what should we be doing? We should be thinking about ministering to them despite their guilt, even because of their guilt. If someone is sinning, if it is your place, shouldn’t you try to help prevent them from sinning and try to get them to glorify God more?
It will be hard to minister to someone if we are judging them because ministry is about love, not about being right.
If your wife flips out on the kids, how will it help to feel superior? You want to prevent her from sinning like that, so you’ll need listen to her and see what the issues are and figure out the areas you can help. Now what if your wife flips out on you? Same thing. But because it’s an attack on us, we want to defend the truth of our position rather than doing exactly what we did in the previous example – which is to listen and see what the issues are and figure out the areas you can help.
Okay great, we get it… Judgmental… bad. Love… good. We knew that.
So what do we do?
What we want to happen is when we’re faced with a tough situation; we’re ready to respond correctly. We can’t expect someone who has never practiced shooting a basketball to hit a bunch of three-pointers in the middle of an intense game. The same way we must train if we are to be prepared when situations arise. So what do we have to work on, and how should we work on them?
1. Self-righteousness. This really is about humility. This can only be worked on when we understand God – specifically how awesome he is and how sinful we are. Understanding only comes from studying about his attributes and works and our nature through scripture. Through devotions, Bible studies, church, etc. (I hope you didn’t think that overcoming judgmentalism would happen overnight.)
2. Patience. Using that first example, when you walked in on your wife sitting down watching TV, if you don’t have patience, you don’t stand a chance. You need to give yourself two seconds to not get angry. How can you expect to minister if you’re too busy yelling? Patience gives you that chance of not yelling. Hopefully long enough for you to get their side of the story and not have self-righteousness kick in immediately. So we need to train our patience through prayer and practice.
3. Minister If we can get past our self-righteousness, and not yell, we can finally move on to what we’re supposed to do – which is minister. Remember, it’s not about being right, it’s about being godly. The point isn’t to win the argument, or prove that your economic theory is correct. The issue is helping them with their situation or sin.
So listen. Get their side of the story. Let them talk. Maybe they are bonkers. But show love, show that you care. To grow in ministry, we need to be working on love and wisdom – love for others and wisdom to know what to do. And hopefully with these three things: humility, patience and ministry, we can stop judging others but rather make a difference in their lives.
Matthew 7:1-3 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Take time to pray: Ask for a loving spirit and one that is focused on ministering rather than judging. Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Love and Patience.