Our Judging Has to Stop

October 29, 2018
Share

My awesome daughters can be very insightful — and also don’t judge me.

 

I’m very blessed to have two smart adult daughters. They sometimes make suggestions (or lovingly enlighten me about myself), and I figure that if I ever expect them to listen to my advice it’s only fair that I respect their wisdom too. When my older daughter Jessi recommended that I read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, I got right on it.

Jessi was right that I would like this book. Each chapter is about a lie we tell ourselves, and when I got to the chapter called “I’m better than you,” one paragraph struck a particularly familiar chord:

“…We all judge each other, but even though we all do it, that’s not an excuse. Judging is still one of the most hurtful, spiteful impulses we own, and our judgments keep us from building a stronger tribe . . . or from having a tribe in the first place. Our judgment prohibits us from beautiful, life-affirming friendships. Our judgment keeps us from connecting in deeper, richer ways because we’re too stuck on the surface-level assumptions we’ve made.”

I wrote on the topic of judgment a few years back in a series of posts about relationships among Christian women. At my speaking events I would do anonymous mini-surveys asking women to complete this statement, “I would have more close relationships with the women in my church if only…” The frequency of statements like the following confirmed that we have a real problem:

  • I wasn’t fearful of their judgment—not measuring up. 
  • They were real and able to be trusted….If I weren’t afraid for them to see the real me. 
  • I felt like I could trust them. … I don’t want to be judged, nor do I want to be felt sorry for….just to share and [to receive] genuine compassion. 
  • I did not fear rejection if someone finds out my past. 
  • I could share my full testimony without feeling that I would lose the respect of the women hearing it and be treated much like the other women in town treated the woman at the well. Most Christian women would say it wouldn’t make a difference to know what a woman has been saved from, but most would distance themselves if they really knew the rest of the story of woman’s life or past.

 

When women live in fear of judgment—which they expect will lead to rejection—it forms a huge barrier to trust. Rachel is exactly right. We need to be honest with ourselves. Something very wrong is going on here.

1. We have a judging problem,
2. We have a perception problem, or
3.We have an insecurity problem.

Maybe it’s all three.

People can have different meanings in mind when they use the label judgmental. For me, being judgmental is when I draw critical conclusions about someone’s motives, intentions, sincerity, worth, or righteousness based on either direct or secondhand knowledge of their statements and behaviors.

A recovering judger myself, I am ashamed of how many times I have judged and stereotyped women then written them off as not worth my time. Judging becomes especially ugly when my assessment of others’ status with God causes me to reject them, feel superior to them or count them as an enemy.

A Judging Problem

The problem with judging, of course, is that there is so much I don’t know and can’t know about a person’s circumstances, experiences, and predispositions—not to mention everything that goes on inside her head and all of her actions lived beyond my observation. There’s no way I can make an accurate judgment.

I may be able to compare specific actions to specific commands in scriptures and generally assess whether a person broke a law. Even then, my judgment of the seriousness of her infraction is likely to be biased by my own spiritual values and my internal sin hierarchy. (Of course, these days we are all so politically polarized that we also judge and reject each other based merely on which political party we espouse.)

That’s why Paul asked, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (Romans 14:4). Only God is capable of making accurate judgments, and it turns out he is a merciful judge:

“…The master decides if the servant is doing well or not. And the Lord’s servant will do well because the Lord helps him do well.” (Romans 14:4 NCV)

So, yes, we who try to do right by God have a judging problem, which is why both Paul and Jesus warned against it. Paul knew the damage wrought when Christians judged and condemned other Christians, so his solution was to “live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” Jesus said that refraining from judging and condemning others is the guarantee of escaping judgment and condemnation against ourselves. Forgiveness is better (Luke 6:37).

I would get a t-shirt with this statement on it, but it would take too long to read and just get awkward.

A Perception Problem

We also have a perception problem. We can come across as judgmental to some women without meaning to.  We may be distracted by our own difficulties or overscheduled or merely inattentive. Sometimes our facial expressions communicate condemnation, even when it’s the furthest thing from our minds.

Sometimes we are unwilling to enter into someone else’s pain, so we utter trite phrases, escape as fast as we can, and avoid future encounters because of our own discomfort. Maybe we simply don’t know how to respond.

Not smiling at, not greeting, not interacting with women, and not welcoming them into our groups are actions that can all send signals likely to be interpreted as rejection. The assumption women too often make is that they have failed to measure up.

And let me add that too many Facebook posts boldly asserting our own lofty moral standards (or even our political positions) can communicate condemnation of others and give the impression that we are not merciful people. Be careful of those unintended messages. “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (I Corinthians 8:1).

An Insecurity Problem

The third problem is insecurity, and that topic I addressed in a prior post, Sisters in Christ, Part 6.

Rachel Hollis, who is the author of an award-winning women’s lifestyle blog, says that the number one thing she hears most, gets emails about most, gets asked for advice most is “Friends. How to make friends. How to keep friends. How to cultivate real, valuable friendship.”

Yes, we all need that, especially close relationships with other women of faith. I believe that where we need to start is with our understanding of Jesus and how he sees us. When we feel confidently loved and accepted by our Savior, we are more capable of seeing other women—other people—through His eyes of grace.

A prior version of this post was originally published in 2013, as the fifth in a series on Sisters in Christ, which started out by considering how Jesus connected with women. In Part 4, I discussed how being sisters in Christ means being so much more than being merely friends.

4 responses to “Our Judging Has to Stop”

  1. Joyce Bouffard says:

    Thanks my friend for posting this as always very insightful and very much needed at this time !

    • LynnPechuekonis says:

      Hi Joyce! I’ve been thinking so much lately of you and our little Cville group as we are going through the Boundaries book with the ladies group here! Love you!

  2. Sandra Sensabaugh says:

    Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Such wise words.. Miss you Lynn♡

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *