Can I Show Good Judgment Without Being Judgmental? [Episode 304]

show good judgment judgmental summer sizzle

It’s hot out there, but the podcast has been even hotter over the past few weeks as we’ve featured your most shared, hottest episodes on the 4:13! We’re calling these episodes our Summer Sizzle, and if you’ve missed any, be sure to go back and listen to them here.

Otherwise, get ready for another great throwback episode, this time to Episode 37: “Can I Show Good Judgment Without Being Judgmental?” Because none of us want to be “judgy,” but we do want to show good judgment, right?

Well today, you’ll learn some practical ways to use good judgment without being judgmental. I’ll share four questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re being judgmental, as well as four ways to choose discernment over judgment.

I’m telling you, these Summer Sizzle episodes are hot, hot, hot, so let’s go!

[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below. Then check out the links below for more helpful resources.]

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Episode Transcript

4:13 Podcast: Can I Show Good Judgment Without Being Judgmental? [Episode 304]

K.C. Wright: We are right in the middle of a Summer Sizzle around here, and we're so glad you joined us for your most shared, hottest episodes. This is Episode 304, and Jennifer will answer a 4:13 question that we all wonder about: Can I show good judgment without being judgmental? I told you, it's going to be hot.

Well, you know the answer to the question is yes, you can. But you'll find out how based on God's Word and some really practical encouragement, we can get through this together. So get ready to get blessed. Here we go.

Jennifer Rothschild: She should not have done that. How could she even think that? I cannot believe she actually went there. I would never do that. Sound familiar? Anyone ever whispered those kind of things in your ear? Or have you ever muttered them under your breath? I've heard that kind of stuff and I've said that junk, and I've thought it too. When it comes to being judgmental, I admit, I have absolutely blown it. But I don't want to be a judgmental woman. I want to be a woman of good judgment. So today we're going to determine the difference. I'll also tell you four ways to know if you have a judgmental spirit and how to choose discernment instead.

This is going to be a really good and interesting podcast, so stick around so we can figure this out together. K.C., let's get official.

K.C. Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live the "I Can" life, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Now, welcome your host -- she's never met a pizza that she didn't like -- Jennifer Rothschild.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hey, welcome. I'm glad you're here. I am Jennifer, self-proclaimed pizza lover, and I'm here to help you be and do more than you even feel capable of by living this "I Can" life of Philippians 4:13. The truth is, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

And listen, let me just -- every now and then on the podcast I need to clarify this. That doesn't mean all things as in I can win the lottery, I can become a famous actor. No. What this verse is referring to is that you can do whatever God calls you to do. You have all the equipment you need to live the life in Christ that he chose for you. So that means you can forgive, you can trust, you can risk, you can have faith, you can be content, not through your own strength, but through Christ's strength. And I will say a pizza does help every now and then. Just kidding.

I'm a big margherita pizza fan. Thin crust. The thinner, the better. I love the brick oven. K.C., what's your deal with pizza? What's your favorite?

K.C. Wright: I am not a fan of pizza, and it's just because of all these years of youth ministry.

Jennifer Rothschild: I had no idea.

K.C. Wright: When you're a youth pastor, you order pizza. It's like every Friday night when the kids get together, let's order pizza. And after 20 years of pizza, you're fried on it.

Jennifer Rothschild: So we're, like, unequally yoked.

K.C. Wright: With just this one thing.

Jennifer Rothschild: With just this one thing.

K.C. Wright: I'm still your little brother.

Jennifer Rothschild: You are. You still are the boy version.

K.C. Wright: I'm the male version of you without the stilettos.

Jennifer Rothschild: You are.

Well, I'll tell you what happened. This is really funny. I thought it was funny in an ironic way. I was writing my first book, "Lessons I Learned in the Dark," and it took me about six, seven months to write it. And so I ordered a lot of pizza. We had two little kids at the time at home. And I remember the night I called Papa John's Pizza. And, you know, you give your phone number? And as soon as I gave my phone number, the lady said, "Congratulations. This is your 100th pizza."

K.C. Wright: Oh, my word.

Jennifer Rothschild: In like six months. I couldn't believe it.

But here's what's wrong. And any of you Papa John's employees, I just want to let you know -- I'm registering my complaint on the podcast -- I did not get a free pizza.

K.C. Wright: You should have so --

Jennifer Rothschild: I'm telling you.

K.C. Wright: -- received a free pizza.

Jennifer Rothschild: But it's okay. It's okay. I'm happy to give my money to the Papa John's Pizza Company. They do good pizza, and they served as well, and they kept my children fed during that year of writing the book. So really, that has nothing to do with anything. Okay?

K.C. Wright: No. We just like talking about food.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, we do.

K.C. Wright: Today's 4:13 question is this: Can I show good judgment without being judgmental?

Jennifer Rothschild: Ooh. It's a good topic today, I'm serious. Because we don't want to be judgy, right? We want to show good judgment. And there's a difference. When we show good judgment, we're applying discernment. And that's the kind of people we want to be.

Discernment can see right and wrong. That's what discernment is. Discernment is able to judge rightly. When you're showing good judgment, or discernment, when you discern something that isn't quite right, like, it strikes this chord in you, right? It just -- this chord in your heart doesn't sound right, doesn't feel right. And it's usually an out-of-tune dissonant chord. It's like smelling something that's kind of stinky and wondering what it is and wanting to sniff out the source. It's a spiritually mature impulse to be discerning.

K.C. Wright: But we can take that good impulse and turn it into bad behavior. Just as quick as a toddler goes from total contentment to a total meltdown --

Jennifer Rothschild: That's true.

K.C. Wright: -- we can go from good judgment to being downright judgy. When we're discerning, it should never puff us up or go to our heads.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

K.C. Wright: Then we become full of ourselves and risk becoming judgmental. It's all in how we handle the discernment. You know, God never called us to judge people. If you think you're called to judge people, you're going to become fault finding, critical, and negative. But if you love people the way God loves them, his love through you will change them quicker than you could ever imagine.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. I mean, we need humility, right? And we need wisdom. And so let me just get right to it, okay? How do we really know? How do we know if we're being judgmental -- okay? -- if we've slipped from showing good judgment or having discernment to becoming judgmental? I'm going to give you four ways. And this could hurt. Okay? Because I'm just going to say, as I thought through this and prayed through this, it was very convicting.

All right. First way, if you are quick to elevate yourself.

K.C. Wright: Ooh.

Jennifer Rothschild: If I'm quick to elevate me, that might mean that I am being a little bit judgmental. So do I feel better about me because someone else is so much worse than I am? If we observe someone's brokenness and we go straight to pride about how whole we think we are, then we're being judgmental. Knowing the truth of Scripture and using it as a magnifying glass to point out what someone else is doing wrong, so that it can spotlight what we're doing right, is a big red flag that we're in judging mode.

Discernment is always Spirit led. Being judgmental, though, it's always going to spring from our flesh. So when we see something wrong in another person's life, we shouldn't think worse about that person. Instead, we should feel worse for that person. It should bring out compassion and empathy. Discernment shows compassion; but judgment, hmm-mm, it always swells with pride.

So another person's mistake should not make us feel better about us, but worse for that person. That person needs our sympathy, not our censorship. The ground at the foot of the Cross, it is absolutely perfectly level. There's no high, there is no low. We all stand level at the foot of the Cross. I'm not higher, she's not lower, you're not higher, I'm not lower. So if we really want to determine am I being judgmental or do I have a judgmental spirit, we ask, "Am I quick to elevate myself?" Okay? That's the question you ask, "Am I quick to elevate myself?"

Second question that you ask, "Am I quick to gossip?" Okay? Because that's a symptom of a judgmental spirit. If you are quick to gossip, chances are it means you have a judgmental spirit. So, like, if I see something questionable in someone's life, do I go talk to God about it or do I talk to everyone else about it? Discernment leads to discretion. Judgment leads to gossip. So think about that. What do you do when you observe something in someone's life? Are you quick to tell everybody about it or do you go straight to the Lord, if you've got to talk about it, and you talk to him? Gossip is the megaphone of a judgmental spirit. And if we're quick to share the, Oh, my gosh, you won't believe, or, Did you hear that, you know, chances are we've jumped on our high horses and we're galloping up that high hill of judgmentalism.

Before we ever talk about anybody, or even to that person that we've observed something, we must talk to God. And when we talk to God, that person does not need to be the main character of our prayer and not the first person that we're talking about. We need to be. We need to have a right spirit. We seek to be pure before the Lord and ask him to affirm what we've discerned, and to humble us and to forgive us from any critical spirit. Then if he leads us, we talk to that person.

Okay, but pause here, my Christian brothers and sisters. We don't talk about those people that we may have discerned something in their life. We don't talk about that person. Sometimes what we do, we act like we're not doing it when we really are. Because we gossip in the form -- and it's a spiritually acceptable form -- of giving our prayer requests. We have to pay attention to that. We don't need prayer requests on a Sunday morning to be a form of sharing gossip. We do pray for each other and we give them the dignity and the respect that they deserve. So even if you notice that their behavior doesn't warrant respect, that's okay. They do, because they, just like you and just like me, are loved by God. So if we want to discern if we're having a judgmental spirit, we need to ask, "Am I quick to gossip?"

Okay, I'm going to head to the third one, but I'm going to give you a chance to breathe.

K.C. Wright: This is so good, Jenn.

Jennifer Rothschild: And it's convicting, isn't it?

K.C. Wright: Mm-hmm. It's what I call an ouch hallelujah.

Jennifer Rothschild: Because even as I'm sharing it, K.C., in my mind I see these little snapshots of times and people and situations where I have clearly been judgmental.

K.C. Wright: Well, I always think, too -- let's say we see a brother or sister in some kind of sin. Okay?

Jennifer Rothschild: Mm-hmm.

K.C. Wright: This person has -- we may not know -- admitted their sin to God, asked him to forgive them --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yep.

K.C. Wright: -- and he takes our sins as far as the east is from the west. He remembers them no more. He places them in the sea of forgetfulness. As though they are as red as scarlet, he makes them whiter as snow. So they are forgiven and we're talking about their sin. So we are automatically on the other guy's team --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.

K.C. Wright: -- and he's the accuser of the brethren.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, that's so good.

K.C. Wright: So when you're talking about somebody else's sin, they may have already repented and you're accusing, and that's not the side you want to be on.

Jennifer Rothschild: It's not.

K.C. Wright: No.

Jennifer Rothschild: I'm glad you said that. Because the enemy of our souls is an accuser. We're not on his team.

K.C. Wright: Right.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. Let's go to the third one then. Here's another way to know if you have a judgmental spirit. "Am I quick to critique?" "Am I a critic?" Okay. Do I have a critical spirit when it comes to another person's behavior, or do I have a compassionate perspective? Judgmental people are critical of others. If she did it wrong or not in the way I would have done it, well, then she's subject to my criticism and my critique. Judgment is quick to critique. Discernment, though, shows compassion. Compassion tries to see all sides of an issue. Compassion, it feels love, where judgment thinks legalism.

We've all blown several of the thou shalt and the thou shalt nots, right? But God does not treat us as our sins deserve. That's what Psalm 1:10 says. That's what K.C. just talked about. He shows us compassion. And so if we're truly discerning, then we discern the compassion that God has already given us and we give it to others. So ask yourself, "Am I quick to critique others?" That's a way to know if you have a judgmental spirit.

Okay. Fourth one, last one, way to know if you have a judgmental spirit. "Am I quick to conclude?" Do I come to a really quick and easy conclusion or do I consider what could be going on in that person's life? You know, there's a tip to every iceberg. And honestly, that's all you can see, right? We don't know what's underneath. So if you assess a whole iceberg from the tiny tip that you can see, chances are you'll have no real idea of what's under the surface. Sure, you may see behavior that is wrong or questionable. Sure, we can always discern that with good judgment, right? But knowing someone's behavior is wrong and choosing to determine that that person has the wrong motive or the wrong intention, that's not the same things.

So when we're judgmental, we use our good judgment as if it's this crystal ball through which we -- and only us, by the way, we alone -- can figure out every single thing about someone else's heart. You know we can't do that. And even if we could, we shouldn't. It's not our business to come to a complete conclusion about someone's motives. Instead of concluding, we need to just consider. We need to pause. We use our discernment to think more deeply, to imagine what that person might be dealing with or how they could potentially be misguided to say such a thing or act that way. Because often people are misguided. Sometimes it's not just arrogance that makes people make the choices they do. Sometimes it's ignorance. Sometimes they really just don't know.

So we consider how we can be part of a solution rather than add to the problem. Judgment knows everything without inspection. Okay? A judgmental spirit knows everything without ever inspecting a situation. But discernment humbly seeks wisdom. That's some pretty --

K.C. Wright: Good stuff.

Jennifer Rothschild: I had to pause, because it's pretty convicting, isn't it?

K.C. Wright: It's good stuff.

Jennifer Rothschild: It's good stuff.

K.C. Wright: It's convicting. But God is the only wise judge.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.

K.C. Wright: And aren't you thankful he judges with mercy. So if we're starting to get judgy, let's fall off our high horses --

Jennifer Rothschild: Or high heels.

K.C. Wright: -- there you go -- and land on our knees before God. Let's humble ourselves before the Lord, seek his forgiveness, and ask him for his merciful heart for us. I want to be a guy who judges rightly and at the same time loves generously.

Jennifer Rothschild: Me too. So to be those people who can discern and have good judgment rather than being judgmental -- and this will be for you note takers. Okay? I'm going to give you four things. And if you're on the move right now driving, or on the treadmill or taking a walk with your BFF or doing the dishes, these will all be on the Show Notes. And you can go there at to find all this. Okay?

So let me give you four ways to be discerning. Okay? So instead of being quick to elevate me, I need to be quick to humble myself. Okay? Instead of being quick to elevate myself, I need to be quick to humble myself, to choose humility. James 4 tells us that we can humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. And when we do, he's the one who lifts us up.

Sometimes the reason we elevate ourselves is because deep down on the inside we feel small. And if we can make someone else look smaller than us, then we feel bigger. When really the way to truly be your right size in your spirit before the Lord is to be humble, and then he's the one that lifts you up. His esteem for you is adequate. So instead of being a person who elevates ourselves, let's be people who choose humility. If you want to grow in your discernment, choose humility. Okay?

Another one, instead of being quick to gossip, I need to be quick to pray. Quick to pray. So since gossip is something we do with words, we just need to immediately transfer that to prayer, to take those same words that would be used as weapons and use them in prayer as something that can be a tool of healing, not only for the person who we were concerned with, but for our own hearts. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 tells us that we're to rejoice always -- right? --but we are to pray without ceasing.

K.C. Wright: So good.

Jennifer Rothschild: That means if you keep a spirit of prayer, it's going to be really hard for you to gossip.

K.C. Wright: That's so good.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, third way. If you think you are quick to critique, then instead of being quick to critique, you can become quick to build up. I love this. And that's why we do this podcast. We want to choose encouragement.

So, K.C., there's a verse in Ephesians. Will you read that one for us.

K.C. Wright: Ephesians 4:29 says this, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out from your mouths, but only that which is useful for building up." And, you know, we've done a podcast on this, too, our thought life.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yep.

K.C. Wright: Not only are we to speak words of life over others, but we're supposed to be speaking life over ourselves as well.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, we are.

K.C. Wright: Yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: And when we're more concerned about our own spiritual humility and our responsibility of encouraging others, we're less likely to be critical.

Okay, let me give you another one. Instead of being quick to conclude, I need to be much more slow to form an opinion. Instead, I need to choose thoughtfulness. Now, this one's hard for me. Because there are slow deciders and there are quick deciders, and I tend to be a quick decider. And I think I know. I have a quick opinion and I think that's the final word on a matter, and it's not. But, see, as the Lord is teaching me humility and the importance of encouragement, then I am far less quick to form an opinion, and more slow about that, so I become more thoughtful.

Okay, K.C., I want you to read this last verse, because I think it's interesting. It talks about the importance of being slow to form an opinion instead of being quick to conclude.

K.C. Wright: Proverbs 10:19. "When words are many, transgressions are not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent."

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.

K.C. Wright: We all need self-control, humility, and thoughtfulness. I know I do. I sure do. I'm raising my hand. You can't see this --

Jennifer Rothschild: Me too.

K.C. Wright: -- but I got my hand up. We can become people who are discerning and have good judgment. What I think Jenn is communicating here so well is we are to judge ourselves. Judge the weight of sin. Judge fruit, the righteous from the unrighteous. Judge the way to help those in sin. Judge our own spiritual strength so as not to become ensnared ourselves as we help remove the weight of sin from others and so much more. This is truly the love walk. We must judge without condemnation.

Jennifer Rothschild: That's right. Because that is good judgment. That's discernment.

K.C. Wright: And the good news is we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. You can do this too. You can do all things through Christ's power in you. All you simply do is ask him to make you a person of good judgment. And the world needs fewer judgmental experts --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.

K.C. Wright: -- and far more humble, discerning, loving Jesus following people with good hearts and good judgment.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. And you are that person. You can be that person through Christ. So remember, whatever situation you're in, whatever relationships, whatever tendencies you may have, you can take them before the Lord, and where you are weak, he will give you strength. And the reason is you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. I can.

K.C. Wright: I can.

Jennifer and K.C.: And you can.

K.C. Wright: I'm so judging you for ordering 100 pizzas. What were you thinking filling your children with that much grease?

Jennifer Rothschild: I think you need to listen to this podcast.

K.C. Wright: You are clogging their arteries.


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