It is so easy today to fall into the trap of judging others. With our limited knowledge of the circumstances they face, we can so quickly rush to determining their faults. Society today embraces the notion of judgment through television shows like American Idol, X Factor, Survivor, etc., and in the talk shows of our generation where very personal problems are publicly shared for all.
Judging is necessary in many aspects of our lives. When we make purchases, we must determine if the sales person is telling us the truth. When we are hiring employees or tradespeople to do work, we have to decide if their skills and experiences are as reputable and capable as they present them to be. Yes, this is judging. As we interact with other people we are constantly interpreting, evaluating and forming opinions regarding their qualities, words, and actions, so that we can respond to them appropriately.
But when our judging turns to comdenation, we have crossed a dangerous line.
There is a passage in the bible that talks about judging others clearly. It reminds us that when we judge others, we need to stop and make sure that our own lives are free from the very errors we hold against others. After all, our natural inclination is to ignore our own faults and make critical judgments of others. How easy it is to cut down others than get on with the work of addressing our own shortfalls.
Instead of judging others with our harsh, brassy words, we need to learn the ways of charitable judgment; to judge with love. To believe the best about others until we have the facts to know otherwise. Showing love versus judging is what we are commanded to do.
Jarl Forsman is the co-founder of gratitudetwentyfourseven.com. She has identified three reasons why we all fall into the trap of judging others. I don’t know about you, but these seem oddly familiar:
1. You wouldn’t tolerate the same behavior or characteristic in yourself.
For instance, you might be shy and encounter a very gregarious person. Your judgment might go something like this: What a show-off. They are so loud and obnoxious. Because you would be embarrassed to act this way, you resent somebody else doing it.
This type of judgment often reveals that you are not fully expressing yourself, so you feel resentful – maybe even put off – by others who do it. Becoming aware of the truth of this reaction and working on expressing yourself more fully and authentically would result in a valuable gift of freer self-expression.
2. You display the same behavior and aren’t aware of it so you project your disowned behavior onto others and dislike it “out there.”
Everyone has encountered the second cause at some point. Someone is complaining about a friend or acquaintance and you think to yourself, “That’s funny, they do the same thing they are finding wrong!”
Taking an honest look within to see if you share some of the characteristics you dislike in others. You may be surprise to learn that you do, and it is likely to offer insight into gaining greater self-acceptance and compassion for others. It goes back to that speck versus plank in the eye lesson from Matthew.
3. You are envious and resent the feelings that come up so you find something wrong with those who have what you want and end up judging them.
Someone who has attained recognition may remind you of your own lack of success in this area. You may resent their accomplishments and then find something wrong with them in order to avoid your own feelings of inadequacy.
Since inspiration is a much more effective motivator than competition, you’d be more likely to experience success if you got inspired by other people’s victories instead of wasting time finding fault with them.
Judging others is a natural tendency for all of us and something we will do every day to accomplish the work we must do. Charitable judgment, judging others with love, is necessary and commanded by God. When we use our judgment of others as a mirror to show the workings of our own mind, every person’s reflection can become a valuable gift, making each person we encounter a teacher and a blessing.