judge well

judge well shadowMy taste in comedy shows tends to lean more towards the off-beat rather than mainline. I am not so keen on the formulaic ‘sit-com’ shows interspersed with all that ‘canned laughter’ but prefer instead the satire based ‘mock-umentary’ shows, like ‘The Office’. I know the humour can be a bit risqué sometimes, and not to everyone’s liking, and I am not keen on every aspect of it, but the style of humour just connects with me. Another show in this genre is the ‘Royle Family’. It’s a bit morose, depressing and gritty at times but I love the real understated, ‘sub-text’ humour of it. You couldn’t get a worse family in terms of dysfunction and laziness, yet somehow the characters endear themselves to you.

The show revolves around a family who basically do nothing else but sit in front of the TV all day long. All the social interactions between the family take place in the lounge of their home, as they all occupy their armchairs and settees watching the one eyed monster in the corner of the room. As I watch it I delight myself in the fact that I am nothing like them! Poor shallow misguided wretches they are. Thank God I don’t drift through life aimlessly and value the trivial things they do. Slowly a pride begins to swell up inside me and although they are fictional characters I know many people do live that way, and find myself feeling so superior to them. The irony is this. I am watching a TV show about people do nothing but watch the TV. Who am I to judge?

Jesus said in Luke 6:41-42 that we should ‘first remove the log in our eye before we address the speck in someone else’

We are very good at spotting the obvious and visible vices in others whilst conveniently overlooking the more insidious and hidden flaws within our own life.

Let me ask you a question. What’s worse; smoking or envy? Just because something is clearly noticeable doesn’t make it more destructive than something hidden. Just ask the captain of the Titanic! What about the classic vices like drunkenness or temper; they are certainly more obvious than pride or unforgiveness, but are they really any more damaging? The fact that it is more easily covered up or justified in our lives is actually what makes it more dangerous as they are nearly impossible to detect, admit to and deal with.

Do we always apply the same standards to others that we would apply to ourselves. Its so subtle how we fail to apply the same levels of grace to others that we expect to receive from them. I am sure we have all been guilty in this at some time. For example, what we regard as quick temper in someone else, we describe as healthy passion in ourselves. They are stingy but we are prudent. Their kids are unruly but ours are simply high-spirited. They are careless, but we are adventurous. They are greedy but we are ambitious. Get the point. Be careful Jesus said because by the standard you judge you will be judged. That’s sobering.

Are we not to judge at all then? True, there is much in the New Testament about not judging, but Jesus said something really significant in Jn 7:24 ‘Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.’ Clearly there is a place for judging others in our lives as long as it is done right! If our method, motive and intention are not right then our judgement will return on ourselves. The only way it can be right is if we have firstly judged ourselves correctly and rigorously.

In my opinion there is a huge difference between wisely judging a person’s character and actions, and being judgemental towards them. Right judgement has at its heart a desire to make aware, restore and lift a person to a place of freedom. Judgementalism impulsively attacks the person and attempts to make me feel superior by highlighting the faults of another. Judgement does not exist to make me feel better about myself. In fact it should make me look at myself soberly first and make changes in me before addressing someone else. Judgement correctly administered is like a mirror into our own heart.

According to 1 Cor 6:2-3, it is God people who will ultimately judge the world and even angels. If this is so, then we need to get to grips with learning the right way to judge one another. As individuals and as a church we must adopt the principle of 1 Pet 4:17 ‘For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household.’ In other words judgement begin with YOU. Then and only then can we make judgements about the the world around us with a right heart.

Its not an area we talk about much in church but its something we must improve on. Aim to be wise and discerning about how you judge your environments and the people in your world. Wise judging can save us from a lot of grief whereas judgementalism will get us into a lot of hot water both with others and with God. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring discernment into your attitude first, and also into your method of weighing up others. He is the great judge; he is righteous and equitable in all his decisions and leadings. The Holy Spirit knows the truth in every situation and understands the implications of every decision and judgement we make. He commands us to look at ourselves rigorously so we can look at others righteously.

Yes, we are called to make judgements in life. Its part of our God given mandate but always remember; don’t put on the judges robes till you have stood in the dock yourself!!