Monday, October 19, 2009

careful consideration

"When you judge another person,
you do not define him or her,
you define yourself."
- Wayne Dyer

A writer friend of mine used this quote on her blog last week. I have no idea who Wayne is, but his thought on judging others hit me right between the eyes.

If you're anything like me, the opportunity to judge others happens countless times every day. Unfortunately, it comes instinctively for our human flesh.

Take the photo above, for instance. This would be Liam's creative interpretation to our snack-of-the-week. It was supposed to be whipped cream with blueberries, bananas and kiwi. Liam's not too hip on blueberries and kiwi—so he opted for bananas—and pretzels.

His sister on his left thought he was disgusting. His sister on his right thought he was a genius. I'll let you decide for yourself. :-)

Our flesh has many, many reasons why we judge others. The obvious one is self-preservation. Our flesh can often struggle with fear of being 'less than'—and so we judge. Most often, judging happens before we even give it a second thought. Like breathing.

We turn on the T.V., we judge what's on, what the characters look like, if the news story is true. Within a split second we decide to either keep watching or flip to a new channel.

Open the front door and we quickly judge the weather—or maybe our neighbor's front lawn. "When are they going to mow it?" (Not your house, Susie! Your renters are doing a great job. Just thinking up examples.)

We meet a new person and we make a quick judge of their character by what they are wearing, how they carry themselves and what they say.

We walk into church and we judge the environment, the worship, the community.

We hear someone else's interpretation of Scripture and we quickly ascertain whether it lines up with our personal theology. If not, we start to question their character.

We watch our children act up and we judge their behavior.

While I never really paid much attention to it, judging wastes a lot of time and energy, wouldn't you say? And as the above quote points it, when we judge others, we're really only defining (and hurting) ourselves.

Jesus said it very clearly in the Gospels:

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Luke 6:37 (NIV)

He definitely wasn't wishy-washy in His viewpoint of judging—or what the consequence is when we choose to judge.

So how do stop? How do we get ourselves out of the tangled web of judging others—and therefore—ourselves?

We begin by confessing that we are, in fact, guilty of judging others.

We acknowledge that we want to change.

We ask Jesus to forgive us.

We receive His forgiveness and we allow it to spill over onto those who have judged us.

We look to Him as our example of pure holiness.

The key is to seek His heart towards others—and ourselves. We our sinners, but we are sinners with a Savior. He has already paid the price for our sin. Our job is to allow His sacrifice of love to be enough for us—and for others.

In Him, we are set free. In Him, we receive a second chance (and a third, fourth, fifth...) In Him, we are loved and able to love others—without judgement.

This one feels pretty big, my Friend. The truth is that I really do love others. My heart's desire is to love others and be 100% accepting of others. My problem, however, is that my flesh has had it's way for far too long.

That brings us back to Jesus.

In Him, we are more than conquerors. In Him, we have victory. I'm so very thankful for His grace and sin-shattering LOVE.

After all of that, is there actually a God-given reason why/when we should judge? Maybe a better word is to allow God's Holy Spirit to help us discern God's truth. In order for us to make good choices, discerning what God's will is for each of us is important.

The mistake we too often make, however, is when we take it one step further. When deem ourselves worthy of judging our brothers and sisters, we allow our pride to lead us. And we start thinking like our enemy—believing that we are as knowledgeable and as trustworthy as God.
Ouch. That one got me too! I'll save that thought for another day.

Until then, I'm thankful that God already has my path sorted out and that He has makes great allowance for my flesh.

In Him, we are forgiven and free. In Him, we are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Now, to allow Him to stop the vicious cycle of judging...

On my knees daily in prayer,


ellie said...

To me Liam's snack sounds yummy! Great post on judgement. Being reminded of how utterly sinful I am without God's grace definitely helps to keep my judgemental heart in check! :)

I love this quote from Mother Teresa: "If you are busy judging people you have no time to love them".

hugs :)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

You know, I'd never thought of judging others as a waste of time and energy, but when I think about it, that makes perfect sense. Great thought.
~ Wendy

Anne L.B. said...

Amy, one of the things I learned that helped me with this is knowing that "satan" means "accuser." In Revelation he's called the accuser of the bretheren.

In judging others, in accusing them of being anything less than they should be, I align myself with satan. Knowing this was like a punch between the eyes that helps me want to see people the way Jesus does.

Thank you for everything here.