Don't Judge Me
How many times have you heard someone say “Don’t judge me!”? Yet, there is a time and place for judgement. Merriam-Webster defines the word judge as “to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises.” There are times it is absolutely necessary to judge, as it could save your life. After all, you want to judge if the bridge is strong enough to support your vehicle’s weight. You want to judge if the food put before you is free from ingredients to which you are allergic. You want to judge if it’s wise to walk down an alley where two figures lurk in the shadows.
You may say, “Yes, but judging a person is different.” It can be, but consider the definition once again. At the very heart of the issue, is whether we choose to invest the time necessary to weigh evidence and test the actions and motivation of an individual, or simply pronounce a verdict based on appearance or association alone. As parents, we need to judge the friendships of our children to see if they are choosing safe, healthy people to invest their time in. As singles, you need to judge whether the individual pursuing you for marriage is of noble character. As individuals, we need to judge whether a business person has the skill set and expertise to do the job you want to hire them to do.
For anyone who’s been an active part of society, you recognize that sometimes judgements can be wrong. Facts are not always interpreted correctly, or critical pieces of evidence may have been withheld before a verdict was rendered. Sometimes, even when it appears that a case is cut and dry, not knowing all of the surrounding details can cause you to reach a wrong conclusion.
This paper was sitting on the computer desk this morning when I came in to write. I was excited to see my daughter’s score, as she has always struggled with writing. Upon further investigation (I read the paper), I found it to be full of spelling mistakes, sentence fragments and grammatical errors. I began to get angry at the laziness of the teacher for simply marking a perfect score up top, and moving on to the next child in the system. Yes, I judged the teacher without knowing all the facts.
It dawned on me a while later, that perhaps the assignment wasn’t so much about the content of the paper, but the way in which the paper needed to be formatted with correct citations. It’s quite possible that the lesson being taught was about structure rather than content.
Here the interesting thing about judging. There IS a time and place for it. There is also a chance that we, even with careful evaluation, will judge incorrectly. That, my friends, is where grace and forgiveness come into play. If you have been on the receiving end of someone’s wrong judgment, you can choose to extend grace (unmerited favor) and forgiveness. If you have been the one to wrongly judge, it’s now up to you to seek forgiveness through humility and apology.
What of the expression “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? Well, if you’ve examined the book and found the author to be Stephen King, with a synopsis indicating it’s a contemporary horror, than you’ve judged rightly based on the evidence that was presented. Now, if you come across another book, without synopsis, also written by Stephen King, but choose not to read it because you don’t like horror stories, you may have dismissed a book about the inner working of the restaurant business. After all, not everyone named Stephen King writes horror stories.
In conclusion, judge, but judge as rightly as you are able. In the event that your judgement is wrong, ask forgiveness and seek reconciliation. There is wisdom in knowing when to render a final verdict, and when to declare a mistrial.