For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~Matthew 7:2
A trap that I find all too easy to fall into is judgement. I’m not sure why we are so quick to give opinions and to even criticize others, but I see it happening all the time. It’s even worse on the internet, because there is an anonymity that might makes us feel safe and secure in quickly spouting off our opinions. Those kinds of statements- that are quickly and perhaps thoughtlessly given- are usually not our best statements. Especially if they are judgmental statements.*
So my eldest was playing with friends. And one friend wanted to play a certain way, and no one else did. So Friend huffed off to the side, and crossing his arms over his chest loudly and peevishly proclaimed, “You aren’t being any fun! I’m not playing anymore!” Mothers were there, and the situation was dealt with promptly and Friend is not the focus of this story- my eldest is. He, having very clear ideas of right and wrong, had some comments about Friend when we were on our own. Something along the lines of, “He’s not very fun, is he?” Part of me wanted to agree and leave it alone, but that is lazy mothering- so I dove right into the deep end and began another parenting marathon. I reminded my child that he’d said those exact same words not so long ago. He tried to argue that his case was different, and on and on we went…
until I finally asked him, “What can you learn from this?”
Because when we refuse to sit in a seat of judgement over others, and instead choose to look at ourselves and where we have been and what we can do- well it seems a lot more productive to me than stating our opinions. We ended up talking about how he could have helped Friend, and apply that knowledge to how my son plays with his friends in the future.
I’ve been applying this question almost daily in my own life.
“What can I learn from this?” has led to other questions like: What could I have done differently? How can I help? Was I kind and considerate? Is the other person hurting?**
Most of us don’t walk around openly advertising the struggles we are facing every day, so it makes it easy for others to make judgmental statements. For example, you might have recently met a woman at the grocery store whose children were apparently doing their best to reenact Tarzan (the woman may or may not have looked like me, but I will plead the 5th). It would be easy to make a few judgmental statements about that mother. However, if you knew she’d only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, and had just come from a funeral, and that the kids (being kids) were simply acting out the emotions they couldn’t understand that were surrounding them and their family… Well, if you looked at that woman through those lenses, what would you do then?
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. ~James 4:12
We have only one Judge. And He sees all those things that we, as people, cannot see. He sees our hearts, and knows what we are walking through. He is a good and capable judge. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say, “Let’s stop judging each other.” But I did like the idea of having a way to stop those thoughts from fully forming- to instead ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”
Lord God, you alone see the hearts of men. You know our inner struggles, and hurts, and you also know our strengths and gifts. Help us to call out the best in others. Help us to work through our shortcomings first, and to commit to becoming better disciples of Jesus. Help us to react in love and kindness. Thank you for being a good and just judge, and for your many, many mercies to us. Bless us to extend those mercies to others. In Jesus’ Name, amen!
*This is not meant to be a condemning post, and I am so very sorry if it came across that way! It is more that I wanted to share the idea of how to talk with our kids about processing situations where making a judgement about someone might be the easy thing to do.
**Really these questions work in many situations- not just when you’re tempted to judge others. They work for when we are nervous, scared, when we feel like something didn’t go quite right, or if we are sad, lonely… anything really. You could even ask them if things are going well. I think it’s called being self-reflective. Which is apparently a new idea for me… [insert sheepish looking emoji here]