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Someone said, “The first reason why we should be slow and careful in the judgments we pass upon our fellow man is our too frequent ignorance of the facts. A fragment of anything is apt to be deceptive, and all that we mortals show to one another is but a fragment of our true selves. How little we know!” Most especially the Scriptures teach a valuable principle, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24, ESV).
In understanding what being judgmental is all about, Gregg Henriques, a Ph.D., stated, “The word judgmental in the dictionary there are generally two meanings, which help us sort out the issues. One has to do with making judgments; so, yes, at a basic semantic level, making judgments is being judgmental.”
There were two clear examples from the Scriptures about making wrong judgments. Unfortunately, they judged based on appearances. Eli looked on the outward appearance, and judging by outward appearance a drunken woman had come into the tabernacle and deserved to be put out and rebuked:
As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.14And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. 16Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation” (1 Samuel 1:12-16, ESV).
Even the prophet Samuel when tasked by God when looking at Eliab saw him as qualified but rebuffed by God:
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.” 7But the LORDsaid to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV).
From a modern context, Philip Yancey shared this insight on what not to do when making judgments:
Christians fail to communicate to others because we ignore basic principles in relationship. When we make condescending judgments or proclaim lofty words that don't translate into action, or simply speak without first listening, we fail to love - and thus deter a thirsty world from Living Water.
On the other hand, the right way of judging according to John W. Ritenbaugh includes four factors that are critical when we judge and correct others:
1. We must take care not to step beyond our rights as a fellow servant. Our rights extend only as far as being a brother, not the Master.
2. We must correct for the right reasons. Our intent must be one of deep respect and love for the other.
3. We must have a godly attitude. We must be humble, considering our own weaknesses and limitations.
4. We must correct in kindness and gentleness, remembering that we are trying to heal a spiritual wound, not rub salt in it.
In the end, we must look at the Scriptures and follow clearly on what is consistently done and expected from God’s people at all times: “Hear the disputes between your brothers, and judge fairly between a man and his brother or a foreign resident” (Deuteronomy 1:16). In addition, “The LORD of Hosts says: 'Administer true justice. Show loving devotion and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9).
What’s the bottom-line? I like how John C. Maxwell summarized applying right judgments in this way: “Earn the right to be heard by listening to others. Seek to understand a situation before making judgments about it.” When we follow the Scriptural prescription and advice carefully from some experts, enduring relationships between friends, families, and church mates is firmly secured especially when right judgments are applied.
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