Picture yourself in crowd of people, with strangers you’ve never met before. Immediately your mind starts to form an opinion about the people around you. From what they do to the way they talk—-is it formal or informal?—- to the way they dress — is it eye pleasing or tacky? —- you’re observing everything about them.
This is judgement, and whether we realize it or not, we as human beings have advanced into a judgmental race.
Tabloids, news, politics, fashion, home, school and every day life are all dictated, to some degree, by a judgmental standard. Not all judgment is wrong, but it’s how we as a society use it that makes an impact.
Our environments shape us, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t grow out of the habit of immediate labeling. Scripture guides us by explaining that we should not judge others but rather learn from them and in doing so arrive to a new understanding of who they are as well as who we should become mentally and spiritually.
We should look past the faults of others for we too possess faults of our own. We need to gain a new outlook on what it really means to judge, how it affects our lives and the lives of others and how we can move past judgment into understanding and forgiveness.
But without judgment are we not at a loss for distinguishing between a person who means well from one who means harm? Scripture explains judgment as a “process of the mind” of which we use to differentiate moral acts that represent Christian qualities from disrespectful acts that bear an unrighteous purpose. For instance, judgment, in the form of common sense and evaluation, can help establish whether a situation is harmful or beneficial, depending on the elements at play. We can’t believe everything we see or hear, so judgment is needed to help decide whether or not to step away from a situation.
However, this type of judgment, which we can also call discernment, is vastly different from the kind of judgment we use to determine whether or not we like someone’s hair, the way they talk or what they’re wearing. This kind of petty judgment is certainly not Biblical; in fact, it detracts from our credibility as Christians if we rush to judge others in this way. Instead, we need to keep in mind Matthew 7:12: “What you wish others would do to you, do unto them.” It’s the Golden Rule, but it’s one that sometimes slips through the cracks when we are busy sizing up those around us instead of thinking of ways we can show them the love of Jesus.
Think about what judgment means to you—is it important to judge others by what we perceive to be righteous, or should we instead reflect on the Christian values taught to us?
Further, think about how many times your initial impression of a person turned out to be totally wrong. Regardless of whether or not we immediately like everything about a person, there is a lesson to be learned through every encounter in life—so take precaution, assess the situation with an open mind, and remember that everyone deserves to be looked at as a child of God, first, before they are judged for anything else.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1