Criticism as Inspiration

                         It makes me feel so good

Jeff Hyson

Jeff Hyson

To always tell you when you're wrong

The big man that I am

To always have to put you down

               -- David Bazan

            I don’t mean to be judgmental, but doesn’t it bother you when people are judgmental?  I mean, if you call yourself a good Christian, you shouldn’t judge people, and those people that do judge people must not be as spiritual as those of us who don’t judge people.  I am so thankful that I don’t have a problem with judging people, and I feel bad for those who do.

            Sound absurd?  Yes.  Have I ever thought someone less spiritual because they were judgmental?  Yup.

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            I think there is fine line between advocating for the truth, and being judgmental.  For example, most of us want to stay away from legalism, but we still set up rules for ourselves and how we live.  This responsible living is great, but how easily do we project our own personal rules onto other people?  It is almost natural to do so.  I don’t let my kids run around the sanctuary after church.  While this is just a minor rule for our family, I find myself judging parents who do let their kids run around.  I know I am not supposed to legalistic, especially about minor, insignificant details, but it is really easy to fall into it. 

            Judging others can be even more tempting in instances when we feel that the truth is on our side.  How do we advocate the truth while not being legalistic or judgmental?  First, we need to remember there are absolute truths that take the judgment out of our hands.  It is not OK for someone to commit adultery, or abuse a child.  Am I being judgmental about adultery?  I think not.  The problem creeps in as we add to the list of absolute truths.  Our personal values, which may be great things, can easily rise to the level of absolute truth in our minds, making it really easy to judge other people by our personal standards.

            Here’s the crazy part… these “truths” can change.  Some of the values that I had 10 years ago, that I probably considered pretty close to absolute truths, are not my values today.  I’ve grown.  Some of the things that I was judging people for 10 years ago, I might embrace today.  These might include political or social ideas, or just ways of living life.  Obviously, the ideas and standards that we value we also consider truths.  If we didn’t, we wouldn’t value them.  I feel pretty confident that some of my current values will change as I continue to grow. 

            Passing judgment on someone is all about comparison.  I am better/more spiritual/smarter/holier than that other person.  It makes us feel a little higher on the spiritual totem pole.  It is self-serving and can lead to some pretty dangerous thought patterns.

            I am a firm believer in pursuing truth, both absolute truth, and values that we feel are best for us and our families.  My personal values do not always need to be your personal values.  I don’t mean to be judgmental, but let’s not be so judgmental.