“She shouldn’t have done that.” “How could she think that?” “I can’t believe she actually went there!” “I would never do that…”
Sound familiar? Anyone ever whispered phrases like that in your ear? Or, have you ever muttered them under your breath?
I’ve not only heard that kind of stuff, but I’ve said it and thought it too. When it comes to being judgmental, I admit it, I’ve blown it!
But, none of us want to be “judgy.” Instead, we want to show good judgment. So, how can we tell the difference?
When we show good judgment, we are applying discernment. Discernment sees right and wrong. Discernment is able to judge rightly.
For example, when you discern something that isn’t quite right, it strikes a chord in your heart. Usually an out-of-tune, dissonant chord. It’s like smelling something stinky and wanting to sniff out the source, and that is a spiritually mature impulse.
Yet, just as quickly as a toddler goes from total contentment to a total meltdown, we can go from good judgment to being downright “judgy!” It’s all in how we handle the discernment.
So how should you handle discernment? On this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, KC and I share some practical ways you can use good judgment without being judgmental. You’ll learn four questions to ask yourself, as well as four ways to choose discernment.
4 Ways to Determine If You Are Being Judgmental
- Quick to elevate me. Do you feel better about yourself because someone else is so much worse than you are? If we observe someone’s brokenness and go straight to pride about our own apparent wholeness, then we are being judgmental. When we see something wrong in another woman’s life, we shouldn’t think worse about her, we should feel worse for her. Discernment shows compassion, judgment swells with pride. She needs our sympathy, not our censorship. The ground at the foot of the cross is perfectly level, you aren’t higher, and she isn’t lower.
- Quick to gossip. When you see something questionable in someone else’s life, do you talk to God about her or do you talk to everyone else about her? Discernment leads to discretion. Judgment leads to gossip. Gossip is the megaphone of a judgmental spirit. Before we ever talk about her or even to her, we must talk to God. And, when we talk to God, she isn’t the first person on our prayer list—we are. We seek to be pure before God and ask Him to affirm what we have discerned. Then, if He leads us, we talk to her. But, Christian sisters, we do not talk about her! Sometimes we act like we are not doing this when we really are—we gossip in the spiritually accepted practice of giving our “prayer requests!” Pray for her, giving her the dignity and respect she deserves. Her behavior may not warrant respect, but she does because she, like you, is loved by God.
- Quick to critique. Do you have a critical spirit when it comes to someone else’s behavior or a compassionate perspective? Judgment is quick to critique. If she did it wrong or did not do it in the way we would have done it, then she is subject to our criticism. But, discernment shows compassion. Compassion tries to see all sides of an issue. Compassion feels love whereas judgment thinks legalism. We have all blown the “thou shall” and “though shalt not’s” of Scripture. But God does not treat us as our sin deserves. He shows us compassion and, if we are truly discerning women, we discern the compassion God gives us and we give it to others.
- Quick to conclude. Do you come to a quick and easy conclusion about someone else and her behavior, or do you consider what could be going on in her life? There is a tip to every iceberg and, usually, that is all we can see. So, if we assess the whole iceberg from the tiny tip we can see, chances are that we will have no real idea of what is under the surface. Sure, you may see her behavior and it is clearly, undoubtedly wrong, but knowing her behavior is wrong and choosing to determine that she has the wrong motives, or the wrong intention are not the same things. It’s not our business to determine her motives. Instead of concluding, we consider. Discernment involves wisdom. We use our discernment to think more deeply, imagine what she is dealing with, or how she may be misguided to say such a thing or act that way. We consider how we can be part of her solution rather than add to her problem.
4 Ways to Choose Discernment Over Judgment
- Choose humility. Instead of being quick to elevate me, I need to be quick to humble myself.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
- Choose prayer. Instead of being quick to gossip, I need to be quick to pray.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17).
- Choose encouragement. Instead of being quick to critique, I need to be quick to build up.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…” (Ephesians 4:29).
- Choose thoughtfulness. Instead of being quick to conclude, I need to be slow to form an opinion.
“When words are many, transgressions are not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19).
We all need self-control, humility, and thoughtfulness. The world needs fewer judgmental experts and far more humble, discerning people with good judgment.
So, remember whatever you face, however you feel, you can do all things—including being a woman of discernment—through Christ who gives you strength.
Books, and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Invisible: How You Feel Is Not Who You Are
- Invisible for Young Women: How You Feel Is Not Who You Are
- Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything
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What’s one way you plan to practice good judgment this week?