Judgment And…

I suppose the more literal title for this would best have been “Judgment Calls” because all of us make them rather continuously throughout our lifetime. In fact we have to. Sometimes we’re quite correct, sometimes very wrong.

As I walked home from the car park this afternoon I noticed the huge photo of a lady on the front page of the local newspaper, massive headline, big allegations of her political position abused for personal financial gains. Nothing new under the sun, right?

My first thought was “What else is new, rip-off politicians”. My next thought was “Dude, you don’t know her, know nothing about her really, have not even read the allegations and have little-to-no way of knowing what she did or didn’t do re. the article.” More will follow as this is Chicago. And of course news or so-called news (both) orgs are in business to make money, so love, care and truth are sadly optional.

My very next thought was something like “Yeah, well, either way any news outlet and even people ragging on the internet much less gossiping in their local neighborhood or church either make a living out of it or simply play with these stories like sport anyhow”.

And then I thought of a guy who once wrote about my “tough guy image” but that I was “one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet”. Go figure. He could be totally correct, or I could be a full-on actor and liar, or any variation on the spectrum 90-10, or 10-90, 60-40 or 50-50. Or depending on the issue, or when he met me, or actually knew me (if ever) or how much time we spent together, or if he spoke with 20 of my enemies or 20 of my friends.

What if he met me when I was in a hurry, or so focused on something I didn’t hear him as we passed one another so he took it as a snub? What if I was truly in a sinful moment, angry or freaking about something and truly WAS totally rude to him, and never came back to apologize? One moment and I am toast in his view?

Happens all the time. You and I do it to people and they do it to us. Welcome to the real world and the way things -are-, like it or not.

Indeed, we could truly be (have been) Mr./Mrs./Ms SWEET or a total flippin’ JERK… all within an hour or so on any given day!

Hey, we walk down a street and one or more people walking toward us trigger our snap deduction, maybe we reference a past experience or at least perspective. Can I trust him, her, them? Or not?

It’s life experience as well as chalked up to part of the human condition to judge. To make “a judgment call”, sometimes based on reality, sometimes “probability”, sometimes “gut feeling”, sometimes we just “like” or somehow relate to a person or race or ethnicity or this or that group, say, politically or even re. a sport we share in common.

We “like” or “dislike” on all sorts of criteria, some godly, some ungodly. On these and other basis we make judgments, even character judgments with little or no actual knowledge.

Any business owner or personnel vetter has to decide whether a person is “a good fit” for the job they are applying for. Judgment call.

Various government office positions, military leadership, denom. and local church, yes, even very organic house church peeps have to -and DO make judgment calls who might be best fit for a particular task, simply to cook, drive, etc..

Feelings get hurt by these judgments. Sometimes families, marriages, bands break up over judgment calls.

Guilt and innocence are established by judgment calls, rightly, wrongly, but no matter, judgments are made because in this world we seek our personal desires, or actual justice, at least some measure of hope for some sense of integrity SOMEWHERE.

I get that and affirm it.

So what about the often, commonly quoted scriptures: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you”? -Mt. 7.1,2

We love to quote the first verse but perhaps slow down a little when considering the second one…

See, we all know we get it wrong at times. In fact I am certain plenty of leaders on any and every sense of the term or scale of leadership fret, worry and are at times plain freaked about making a wrong judgment. It is one reason I loathe ever influencing anyone because it is impossible to always “judge righteous judgment” and therefore sow a truly great example of love and wisdom at every decision or in every turn of a relationship where I may have influence.

This is also why I love the verse “Mercy triumphs over judgment”.

We must slice a LOT of verses out of The Bible, indeed, the New Testament to pretend (or shall I say, re-create) a God to our liking who simply never judges anyone in terms of consequences, and declares all ultimately “saved”. At the same time, God is the only Perfect, mistake-free judge in existence… and “it is appointed for humans to die once and then the judgment”. Indeed. By THE Perfect Judge, the only absolutely flawless Decider.

A couple of nights ago in my chaplain team work our small group gathered at the end of the jail service.

The texts that evening touched on these issues. The very first input from one of the inmates was “How can I LOVE the dude in my cell or my pod when I really don’t KNOW them”?

We all agreed it does take time. Judgments on trust or distrust really all should be given time, especially IF you have are able to share it with someone. Then of course we also have to deal with vulnerability because genuine love includes risk and sometimes deep and painful risks.

Of course, walking down the street is a risk.

We may be walking next to an axe murderer… or a godly brother in Christ who looks like a hardcore thug -but if we don’t know, a maturing humility and love from the Spirit ought to bring us to admit we don’t really know.

At such an intersection, I have learned to pray and admit I just don’t know and ask God for help and grace to be careful in my own heart attitude but also in how I treat or interact with others.

We each choose how much time and honest (rather than biased) research, even relationship we bring to our judgments. At times, we take very little time and snap judgments while in some cases are essential, often they add mess to the fallen world we all inhabit.

Facing your own imperfect life and that of those around you is all part of loving your neighbor as yourself. But it is much easier to simply judge and walk away smug. “THEY are ALL like THAT!!!”. Uhuh. Right, ‘eh?

I speak for and to myself when I say: may God help us take great care in the judgment calls we each make. May we learn to take more care prior to making judgments.

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn



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