I was challenged the other day to explain the bad kind of judging. (We also use the word judge for discern which is a good and necessary part of life.) As I struggled to explain this, I realized that I did not understand it all that well.
So after some research and brainstorming with Elijah House friends, here are the conclusions:
Judging is the opposite of honoring. These concepts are both involved in big spiritual principles from the Bible. ”As you judge you will be judged.”( Mt. 7:1), and “Honor your father and mother so that all may go well with you, and your life will be long in the land.” (Eph 6: 1-3).
When we judge we lock someone in the past in our mind. We choose to limit their potential in our thinking and in our interactions with them. Instead of helping them to become what God wants them to be, we keep them in a box by labeling them according to their past actions. Of course, there are other types of judging. We can think of someone as “fat”, ”ugly “, or “stupid” or maybe just “not as enlightened as me”. These may not be based in history with that person, just in our judgmental attitude of heart.
Honor, on the other hand, is future based. It is founded on possibilities. When we honor someone, we see them through God’s eyes as they were meant to be and as they can be with God’s intervention. Honor is looking at someone, even someone who has hurt you, and choosing to see them as lovable and redeemable. It means putting aside your own wounds to consider their hurts that have made them the way they are. Honor is personified by Jesus on the cross when he said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” He looked past the viscousness, tyranny, and cruelty to see that those who tortured and crucified him had wounded hearts so that they did not understand what they were doing.
Asking for forgiveness for judging is a regular part of my life. I don’t have the gentle kind of heart that automatically moves to forgiveness and healing. I need constant intervention on the part of the Lord. Some people whom I know always seem to look at situations through other people’s eyes. They move without thinking into the forgiveness mode or the acceptance / love mode. Praise God for such people. I think they are not really human–they are actually angels. (I happen to be married to one of them.)
For the rest of us, thank God for prayer. Thank God for the constant availability of the Holy Spirit to help us through the process of forgiving and being forgiven. For me forgiving and being forgiven is the most life-changing and powerful tool that we as Christians are given. It is a gift that I want to pass on to all of mankind. Praise God for his good gifts and for the training in how to use them. (Read Pray Through It by Rob Morrissette) Indeed, just praise God!