Judgment is one of those words that I never could decide what I should do with it. When my husband sent me his text confession, I made a judgment of him. He said, with sarcasm, (I think, though it is impossible to know the tone of a text) ‘thanks for not judging me’. Did he think I wouldn’t judge what he had done? I’m no saint. He asked too much, expected too much. I learned later how much he had judged me for years. But, quite naturally for me, I began to question myself and think about judgment. My thinking of the subject was spurred on by Facebook posts of the one-liner about judgment as a plea for tolerance.
And how can we possibly go about our lives without making judgments of people? There was my son’s court case, always coming up in my thinking. The jury was asked to make a judgment based on testimony without evidence. So I couldn’t help but ask what their judgment was based upon? Very possibly, it was not just the actual words of accusation and denial, but demeanor and appearance. Things that could lead to misjudgment. I was asked to make judgments every day in my job as Human Resource Manager. I sweated it, second-guessed. I asked my cohort for her opinion; I asked my boss. I wanted company on my judgment. I was asked this past November to make a judgment between two people running for President. Now my fellow voters are still making a judgment of my decision, as I make a judgment of theirs.
So I Googled those Bible verses (I don’t know if other religions or philosophies offer similar warnings about judging fellow humans) that warn about judgment.
Matthew 7:1-5 ESV
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Luke 6:37 ESV
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
John 7:24 ESV
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
You must read beyond that first sentence in Matthew for the context to understand. I found websites of scholars preaching about the misinterpretation of these verses. Jason Staples on his website, says it is not about judgment, but about being a hypocrite. That brought the old standby to mind: Do as I say, not as I do. Parents like to use it, not to be arbitrary, but to share the wisdom of experience to keep their kids from repeating their own mistakes. But, of course, kids call foul. You’re a hypocrite.
I was like so many others who misinterpreted this Bible verse. I felt guilty for judging. But judgment is not a bad thing; it’s necessary. But I ask myself why I made a judgment. Is my judgment based on bias, prejudice, misinformation, hypocrisy? If I made the same mistake as what I’m judging, did I learn from my mistake? Did I use my experience to change my behavior? Is my judgment based on my own beliefs and understanding or thoughtlessly based on the opinions or teachings of someone else?
So, I can live with my judgments. And, I think even more importantly, I can change my judgment.