If you've been listening to our podcasts lately, you will understand why people accuse us of judging. We've even called out public figures and pastors like Jarrid Wilson. Not all judging is wrong, and God's people need to stop being so concerned about how they appear. If Jesus is the hero, why do we go ape-shit when some one talks bad about us? At the same time, ALL judging needs to be motivated by love. Otherwise, it's a "clanging symbol." But, let's remember: "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid" (Proverbs 12:1). In this week’s post, Joey explores his sinful judging that unfortunately has no "love motivation" at all. Is this sort of judging unavoidable? Natural? Can our love overcome something so intertwined with our sinful nature?

First things first: If you aren’t already a subscriber to the BadChristian Podcast, where the hell have you been? You’ve been missing out on some first-class, Grade-A, Christian judgement at it’s finest, as evidenced here, when Toby rips Pastor Jarrid Wilson a new one. Jarrid, being the super nice dude that he is, came on the show to defend himself.  It doesn’t get any better than this, folks.

I judge all the time.  I don’t want to and try not to, but it’s a constant battle.  Many people have this sickness.  Let me demonstrate.  Look at this picture of my wife and I and tell me, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

(photo of Joey and his wife)

Some of you think, “Yay! Fun. Such a cute picture.”

Some of you who think this way do not even know us, but your hearts are just so non-judgmental.  I sincerely wish I was more like you.

Others, having zero relationship with us, think:

“Wow, they think they are so cool.” “They think they are better than every one else.” “They are trying to make their marriage look way more fun and healthy than it actually is.”

If I saw this picture of a couple who I wasn’t acquainted with, I’d likely think the last three thoughts. I hate that about myself. The truth behind this picture? Yesterday at Sunday morning church services, for Mother’s Day, we took complementary pictures of families to send as gifts via e-mail. During some downtime, my wife wanted me to take silly pictures with her and because I love my wife I complied (I hate taking pictures). I never even thought about this picture being on Facebook.  Not mad at my wife at all for posting it, but it’s the last picture I would have personally posted, and I was a little embarrassed when I first saw it on the World Wide Web. It was a totally different scenario than what it looks like – some dude who thinks he’s God’s gift to women on Facebook, eh?

Here’s some real-life past circumstances that depict my judgmental heart towards others:

  1. “Wow, she thinks she’s awesome and wants all the attention while she leads worship.” Truth? After getting to know her, I found her quite humble but unfortunately self-conscious in front of crowds.  Her flashy way of leading worship was her only means of compensating for the awkwardness that she felt while in front of folks.

  2. “That opposing coach who’s celebrating his girls’ victory over my team bothers me. I bet he thinks he’s awesome, but is probably pretty boring and draining to hang out with.” I actually felt this way about someone without even meeting him. Later, he became one of my closest friends.

  3. “The dude who hangs at the Café/Wine Bar that my church office shares space with thinks he’s pretty cool and intimidating to others. Just look at how he dresses and acts in public.” I thought this before even speaking a word to this guy. After meeting him, I realized my depiction couldn’t have been more flawed.

Why do I do this? I don’t know, but there’s a musician in my head right now, whose picture I saw a year ago, and regretfully, I’ve formed an opinion of him without ever meeting him.

Initially before knowing anything about Rick Warren, around the time when his best-seller “Purpose Driven Life” came out, I mentally compartmentalized him in a negative light.  Flash forward to now, in 2013, he certainly makes my top 5 list of heroes that I look up to.

I have the potential of judging someone and forming an opinion about his or her character, based on:

  1. One encounter with them

  2. Observing one action of theirs

  3. Looking at one picture of them.

It makes me feel better to say this, but I KNOW I am not the only one. A pastor visited the church I volunteered at 10 years ago and later when I asked him what he thought, he told me that he wasn’t impressed with my pastor, and he wrote him off as a leader that was too busy and rushed to care about the “little folks.”  WRONG again. Nice try, considering your assessment was based on a FIVE- SECOND encounter.

Did my pastor-friend ever think it could have indeed been a crazy Sunday with multiple things going awry, and given my pastor is the leader, he had to attend to stuff?  Then again, I better not judge my friend.  He may have had an off-day when he judged my pastor’s character. What about all the shy and/or introverted people who get a bad reputation for being “stuck up,” just because they’re not as bubbly as you?

What about folks that are just having an “off day” and need you to cut them some slack? What about the person who was rushing her mom to the hospital when you got road rage at her?  You thought she was just being rude and inconsiderate towards your agenda and where you needed to be?

I have some suggestions for all of us (even though I’m the least qualified person to be giving advice on this):

  1. We need to think about why we judge people like this.  Does it make us feel better about ourselves to think of others as being less? Is it easier to write people off, rather than invest time in getting to know them?

  2. What if people presented themselves foolishly because of hurt and insecurities which actually need tending to by someone who is willing to love them unconditionally?

  3. Jesus calls Judas his friend.  Are you willing to care about someone who indeed has nothing good to offer you in return?  Isn’t that called “loving your enemies?”

  4. If you are a Christian, you can’t afford to not give someone the benefit of the doubt.  There’s too much loving to do, and not enough people to do it.

For this post to be complete, I have to be honest; God has brought me a long way in battling with this sin. As he exposes more truth in light of my sinful ways, it’s been freeing to love people regardless of what I know or don’t know about them. I still have a long way to go.