Thursday, June 2, 2011

Here Comes the Judge

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged. –Matthew 7:1-2

That’s harsh. When I was five, I got my first diary. I ran across it awhile back when I was cleaning out the attic. My first diary entries went something like this.

January 1 – Carolyn is good.
January 2 – David is good.
January 3 – Donny is not good.
January 4 – Mary is good.
January 5 – Becky is not good.

Wow. I must not have been reading my Bible! Next time a five year old gives you an appraising glance, be very afraid.

A Course in Miracles teaches that any separation from any other person is a separation from God. (When I say God I mean God in whatever sense is meaningful to you.) How do we separate ourselves from people? By judging, criticizing, hating, fearing, labeling, dismissing, stereotyping, condemning. By seeing them as “other.”

So ponder that for a moment. Every time you separate yourself from another person with a judging thought, word, or action, you are separating yourself from God. Every time.

On the other hand, it is very hard not to see as separate that person who was really rude in the checkout line at the grocery store. Or the homeless person reeking of booze asking you for money. Or the CEO of a bailed out company pocketing a gazillion dollar bonus. Or your ex.

Yet many faiths and psychological theories stand firm on the foundation that our ticket to our happy place is our connection with others. Which brings us to the good news. Every time we open our hearts and connect with another person, we connect to God. Every time.

So that gives me pause, at least occasionally, when I am poised to cast that first stone. Is it worth separating myself from God? Is it really?

This month we will be focusing on Step 6–Judge not. We’ll be exploring all the ways that we judge things and people and ourselves. We’ll try to break that habit and set the stage for the next two steps, practicing compassion and forgiving everyone. As you can guess, all three of these are interrelated, so a discussion of one often includes the others.

PS–If you grew up in the United States in my generation, you might recognize the title of this post from the TV show Laugh In.

Related post: There is No Them


  1. Yes- I did recognize the title from Laugh In- and it made me laugh.
    I'll admit that one of my biggest character flaws is in being judgmental. And yet, as soon as I speak with someone I have judged, I let go of those thoughts. But if there is distance, I can experience the judgment again.
    I'll be interested in your thoughts on trust as it relates to this topic.
    Thanks for your always thoughtful posts.

  2. Boy Galen have certainly touched on a BIGGIE today. is such a hard thing to conquer and we all do it.

    Hugs dear lady,


  3. Wanted to say thank you for stopping by and wishing Craig a happy 37th birthday...I have created a memorial for him. If you would like we would love for you to go and light a candle in his memory for us. < me his mom and his brother Doug >

  4. LOL I must be of your age....b/c I surely recognize the title of your post today

  5. One of the most important lessons I have learned from my prison ministry work and being a part time tour guide is how inaccurate my prejudgment has been.

    I am interacting with people who I would have ignored just a few short years ago. When I dropped the preconceived images and simply reacted to the inmates or bus drivers as fellow humans with something to share, I quickly learned my earlier judgment had been based on nothing more than stereotypes.

    We lose out on so many positive relationships when we judge others...before we've even met them.

  6. PAMO--You raise an interesting question about trust and judgment. I will try to address that. And I would like to hear your views on the connection, too.

    Jo--Yes, and we do it in so many ways! This will be a month to remember last month's focus on kindness!

    joybug--I was so moved by your tribute to your son. Thanks for sharing that, and for stopping by to comment.

    Bob--As you know, I so admire your prison ministry. You work with people that other people are quick to judge (often out of fear). What a wonderful testament to the benefits of getting past our fear to drop the judgments.

  7. Galen when I was going through my immense personal changes I felt so guilty for being judgmental of others, I tried so hard not to be but the thoughts just popped into my head. After some time I've come to learn that we all judge others, it's what we choose to do with the judgments that either brings us closer or further away from God. I'm looking forward to reading your posts on forgiveness and compassion.

    Have a fantastic evening!

  8. Galen: I am looking forward to this series. I really have been trying to get a post out on this topic. I am working through somethings and can't wait to hear what you say about it. I do agree with you though that we have to always find our way to not passing judgment. Great post.

  9. Yes, we are all connected. We are like the Aspens that I wrote about. They are one tree because a grove is formed by one tree sending out roots and they all connect. So it is with us.


  10. Hi Galen,

    These judgments that you mention can be so subtle. Before we know it, a critical thought has popped up in the mind. I have found it useful to be very aware of these thoughts. I find them so painful because of the sense of separation they induce. When judgments fall away, I find only peace and well being.

    Thanks for being so clear about this essential topic.

  11. darlin--You are so right. Thoughts come and go, all kinds of thoughts. But we can choose which thoughts to give our energy and attention to. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Sibyl--I hope you do write something about this on your blog, and I also hope you will contribute your thoughts here. You always present such a helpful combination of concept and application.

    Manzanita--I had forgotten that important aspect of aspens. Isn't that a wonderful analogy? Thanks for explaining it.

    Gail--They can be subtle...and quick. I can just be driving down the street and all of a sudden, I'm thinking something critical about someone I see driving or walking. When i catch myself, I try to counter by sending a blessing to that person. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Hello Galen,
    Anguish and frustration stemming from condemning and judging is an issue I really want to work on. I am really looking forward to reading your thoughts on this. I was journaling this morning on this very topic.

  13. Great post on a great subject; thanks for sharing your thoughts. I too feel like it is so important to remember not to judge others but we do live in a critical world; so it is something we all need to constantly work on in becoming more Christ-like.
    Blessings to you!
    Google is having a problem with comments so I am listed under anonymous.
    Living Waters by LeAnn

  14. Riley--Thanks. I hope you will join the discussion, too!

    LeAnn--Thanks for persevering to comment! I've been having trouble, too. If we are having the same trouble, you might try unchecking the box that says to stay signed in. That fixed the problem for me.

  15. I try hard not to judge. As you get older it gets easier I think. The more you do and the more that happens to you the better you get at it. Not that I don't ever [that would not be human]but I am quick to dismiss judgments about people. Life is too short. I let it go. Live and let live. Accept and learn. I feel better already... [grin]

  16. Oops... meant to say thanks Galen. Always a great topic you're on! :-)

  17. Hi Galen,

    Judging came naturally when I was younger. But being INFJ went some way in helping me to see the other person's point of view and to empathize with them. This in turned lessened my judgments. One of the things I do to stop myself from judging is to try to see things from the other person's point of view. When I fully understand their experiences and motivations, I am less inclined to judge them.

    The problem here is that I might swing to the other extreme and identify too closely with them. But over the years, I have learned to detach myself and view things in a more objective manner. It is not perfect, but I try to find that balance.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  18. Hi Galen,
    Even though that I know to judge another is to judge myself, I still find myself doing it.

    I believe that it would be easier to stop judging ourselves and accept that we may never be perfect beings.

  19. Jean and Irving--A belated thank you for these comments. One of the benefits of getting older is that we do gain some wisdom along the way!

    Justin--So true. If we can stop judging ourselves, it is much easier to stop judging others. Thanks for your comment.


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