The Ways We Judge Each Other

I'm convinced that we're often subconsciously searching out weaknesses in others in order to make ourselves feel better.

God has chosen to populate His world and His church with different kinds of people. Each of us has our own unique personality, temperament, gifts, abilities, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. And when it comes to these kinds of issues, we cannot simply correct our weaknesses. The things which make us so good in our areas of giftedness are so often the very things which are a hindrance in other areas of life.

 

Raise your hand if you have heard, said or thoughts any of these . . .

“He is so disorganized. I don’t see how he keeps track of anything!”

“She is really hard to work with. She’s so picky and precise – kind of anal, really!”

“He talks so much. I can’t stand to be around him. He never shuts up!”

“She is so quiet. I never hear her say anything; it so strange!”

“He just rushes through everything he does. Why is he always in such a hurry?”

“She has got to be the slowest person I know. It takes her forever to do anything.”

“Well, you know how he is; he won’t remember!”

“Why is she smiling all the time? I think that’s so fake!”

“He never smiles! What’s wrong with him, anyway?”

“Sometimes when I see him, he just walks right by me. It’s like I’m not even there! I don’t think he likes me.”

“You know you can’t go anywhere with her. She stops and talks to everyone she sees. It takes forever to go anywhere and get anything done.”

“Have you seen her house? It’s so messy. I can’t believe it.”

“Have you seen her house? It’s so perfect; it’s like a museum. It makes me uncomfortable.” 

Sound familiar? It kind of looks ridiculous when you see it written out like that, doesn’t it? So, why do we do this to each other? We seem to carry around some image of “normal” in our minds and are quick to judge, criticize and gossip whenever someone doesn’t meet our standards. And who does or possibly could meet our standards?

None of the issues in this list of comments is really an issue of morality or character. These are not issues about which we can take a biblical stance. But we are so quick to judge!

God has chosen to populate His world and His church with different kinds of people. Each of us has our own unique personality, temperament, gifts, abilities, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. And when it comes to these kinds of issues, we cannot simply correct our weaknesses. The things which make us so good in our areas of giftedness are so often the very things which are a hindrance in other areas of life.

I’m convinced that we’re often subconsciously searching out weaknesses in others in order to make ourselves feel better. We seek to appease our guilty consciences or advance our reputation with others by putting people down, finding people who are worse than we are in some area of life. And it’s never hard to find such people. Do we have enough self-awareness to know that sometimes we are “such people” in the eyes of others?  Do we like it when others talk about us like this behind our backs?

So, what do we do? In this area of life, James 3 is such a helpful chapter of Scripture. I think we could all take more time with James 3, to ponder, pray, meditate, reflect, memorize and seek to apply this wonderfully insightful teaching. If you’re tired of all of the gossip, judgment and cynicism, I commend this passage to you. Take time to really read it carefully and pray through it to the Lord:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (ESV) 

Jason A. Van Bemmel is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. This article appeared on his blog Ponderings of a Pilgrim Pastor and is used with permission.