I had an amazing encounter once. I was speaking with a man and after a few minutes of chit chat he said “I see you noticed my belly”, it did appear that the man was well fed and his Santa-esque physique was hard to miss. There are “two Babies in there” he went on. I asked him how that happened and he went on in detail about how scientists had put them there as part of an experiment. He told me he was happy that he was pregnant and looked forward to the babies being born. What made this more amazing was that he told me he had been pregnant for 14 years and no news outlet had ever picked up the story.
(Yeah kinda like this)
Ok so you are probably thinking one of two things, the first is that I’m not on the level and the second possibility is that I’m incredibly gullible. The truth is I left some details out namely that I had this conversation with a man who was hospitalized when I was chaplain at an inpatient mental heath facility. In other words the man was suffering from a severe mental illness. I spoke with him and gave him space to share his story. In order to make that space I avoided contradicting his story even though I was of course fully aware it was more than a little inaccurate. The point of bringing this up is to illustrate judgment vs. evaluation. You often here people say something along the lines of don’t judge me. They usually mean that they don’t want you to draw any conclusions about them based on their appearance, behavior, circumstance or anything else. However they often ignore the fact that although it is unnecessary to judge someone, to draw conclusions based on subjective opinions, it is another thing entirely to draw conclusions based on objective facts. When it came to the pregnant man I made some evaluations based on the facts, for instance I concluded he was not in fact pregnant. I did my best however to avoid making subjective judgments such as judging the man to be bad or a liar or not worth talking to. The point is often people mix up judgment and evaluation one we should avoid and the other is good, here Jesus talks about how he feels about judging.
Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees objected, “You testify about yourself; your testimony is not true!” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you people do not know where I came from or where I am going. You people judge by outward appearances; I do not judge anyone. But if I judge, my evaluation is accurate, because I am not alone when I judge, but I and the Father who sent me do so together. It is written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I testify about myself and the Father who sent me testifies about me.”
Jesus points out he doesn’t Judge and to paraphrase he says if he did Judge his judgments would be evaluations. God isn’t in the business of forming opinions about us such as that we are bad, or liars or not worth Gods time. The truth is when Christians talk people often think we are judging them because they think our God is Judging them too. We aren’t judging and if we are we should follow in Jesus’ footsteps and stop. We don’t need to form negative opinions about people, God has already formed an opinion, we are all God’s children and God loves his children. When we are looking for an opinion about people maybe we would be well served to start there all the people we meet are children of God.
It doesn’t stop there however because we should evaluate. That is we should draw conclusions based on facts, God did after all give us the gift of thought and we would be well served to use it. Some people and their actions hurt us, we should stay away from those people and those actions, that’s not judgemental that is an evaluation of risk. God does not want us repeatedly walking into harmful situations in the name of not judging. Sometimes our actions hurt or separate us from others we should change those actions and find new ways of interacting with others, that’s not being hard on ourselves its evaluating who we are and who we want to be. And yes sometimes we need to be honest and share with people that their actions hurt us and that we wish that would change. We don’t need to judge but we should evaluate. Jesus says that those who follow him wont stumble, we should always be evaluating if we are following him and how we could do a better job of it. We shouldn’t avoid sharing with others where they may have made a misstep in the name of not being Judgmental either.
(I didn’t want to seem Judgmental so I didn’t tell this man he was packing his parachute poorly)
So if someone shares an honest evaluation with you listen and if you find yourself judging someone stop. We are all on this journey together lets help each other along the way.
And since the title is a Judge Dredd reference here you go