When Shall We Judge?

Posted on January 24, 2012

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I have been going through a time of doubt lately. Not exactly a crisis of faith, but rather a crisis of self. It’s like the old line, “I wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would let me be a member,” but slightly altered, “I don’t want any God (or system of belief) that is comprehensible to someone like me.”

This all began because at my work there is a large, generational divide between long-term employees (15-40 years of service) and those of us who have been here less time (1-10 years). We are about to begin a series of retirements which will stretch over the next several years. These retirements will allow those of us who remain to reinvent the organization, which is something I welcome.

I reason I welcome this is that some of our older employees suffer from a fear of change, new systems, and technology. They have their way of doing things and they don’t want to change. They can see retirement on the horizon. Admittedly it is easy for me to see only these aspects and ignore the many, many years of service that they have given to the organization.

Which raises the question in my mind, “At what point shall we judge a life?” This applies to a career but also to the entirety of a persons day on earth.

Do we evaluate our life on our last day? Our best day? Our worst?

Shall I judge my life by today? This week? This year?

Is it the sum total of everyday, every decision, every moment I ever lived?

[If so, I should spend more time sleeping because then I won’t be messing things up for myself.]

What if I once had a strong, simple faith, but “lost” it somehow. Am I then lost forever? Or at least until the sensation of belief returns? What if it never returns? What if I die and have never found was what lost?

What if I intentionally let go of my overly simplistic faith because I believe that something else, something deeper and richer will bloom in the tilled soil, but it never does?

The obvious answer is that I shouldn’t judge.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

I am hardwired to judge, to evaluate, to look forward at what’s next. It comes as easy as breathing to rank myself against other people in terms of…anything and everything: piety, parenting, race times, education, looks, diet, income, and on and on and on.

I have written how Christians need to use all their skills, wit, and education to be intelligent and articulate, but that when it comes to people you let love rule. But this is not judgement, however much we like to think it is.

Judgement is politics that says, “I’m all right and my opponent is all wrong.”

Judgement is parenting that says, “Because I said so.”

Judgement is a workplace where people are lost in search of profits or progress.

Judgement is an article that over-simplifies, name-calls, and villanizes.

Judgement is trying to solve problems rather than listening.

This all brings me back to my crisis of self. How do I let go of my internal drive toward self-evaluation? Well, I have found that three things help a little bit.

1. I take a deep breath.

2. I name my tendency to over-evaluate. This removes some of its force. Then I remind myself that there are a lot of people who love and care for me. (see above photo)

3. I read Jame 4:13-14

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes

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