To Judge or “Judge Not” (Continued)

tug of warPart Two

(To read Part One, click here)

So, do we judge or “judge not”?

A few years back, a publisher friend named Richard stunned me by announcing, after we’d completed a successful project together, that he would never work with me again. When I asked why, he said it was because I was “lazy” and “dishonest.” I grilled him as to how he’d reached this conclusion. He knew I was lazy, he said, after I failed to make changes based on the notes he’d given me (notes I disagreed with). He said my “excuses” were proof that I was dishonest. When I protested further, he said I was “deluded” and that he understood my true motives better than I did.

It was the most offensive thing anyone has ever said to me. Oh, sure, a few road-ragers have shouted viler things at me. But this was my friend, this was someone who mattered. It hurt like hell. And I mean that literally—judging has the distinct whiff of hell about it. But why did it hurt like hell? Because he hadn’t simply judged my words or actions, he’d judged me. He’d assigned motives.

There’s only one Being in the universe who knows us completely (even we don’t), and therefore, only He has a right and a reason to judge our motives. So, what constitutes right judgment for the rest of us?

Jesus tells us not to put ourselves in God’s place, but rather to identify with others, putting ourselves in their place. He challenges us to understand and strive to restore them. Right judgment has a disarming humility to it (“Trust me, I had a lot bigger log in my eye than you do, brother!”), making us instruments of grace and helping others to grow. Wrong judgment has the opposite effect: it puts them on the defensive, obscuring God’s grace and causing them to avoid growth.

Some time after the incident with the publisher Richard, I began pausing while praying the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-14) when I got to the words “forgive us our debts as we manprayingforgive our debtors.” Debtors (or “trespassers”) are those who have sinned against us, who’ve judged us, or who we perceive as having done so. Each time I got to this point, I would forgive Richard specifically. Soon, I began to pray for his well-being and for his family’s. My feelings were mixed, but on some level, at least, I meant it. Initially, I had no expectation of reconciliation, but in time I began to hope that maybe… And then one day, prompted by God, I called Richard and asked him to meet me for coffee.

We beat around the bush for the first two hours. Then I finally confronted him, telling him that I felt judged (I avoided making “you” statements, but boy did I think them!). I told him that the wounds were still there. After some FAQs, he admitted he barely remembered using those words “lazy,” “dishonest,” and “deluded.” And then, to my astonishment, he admitted that he’d lashed out at me because he felt judged by me! I’d taken him for granted, he said, written him off as being motivated purely “by money” when, in fact, his motive in doing the project had been his love for me as a friend.

“I…had no idea,” I said. (I really hadn’t.)

“I know,” he replied. “I don’t think I realized it myself until just now.”

I asked his forgiveness, anyway. I didn’t beg for it, just asked it. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t made his feelings clear back then. It mattered that he needed healing. Just like I did. And then he asked my forgiveness in return. It wasn’t movie-cute. We didn’t cry or laugh with joy. But something was different. Something had changed.

Somehow we were friends again.

reconciliation-sculpture“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ himself” (Ephesians 4:15). Love is the balm that restores. We need to check our hearts—or better yet, let God check them for us—before we can exercise right judgment. So, if you can’t identify with your brother, don’t approach him (or her). But if, on the other hand, you’re ready to go to him in a spirit of true humility…

Don’t you dare hold back!

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Religion/Faith, Story Power and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to To Judge or “Judge Not” (Continued)

  1. This was a great post. Thank you for sharing. We’ve all been in situations like this and what is interesting, as in your story, is that if we are able to have a conversation with someone we realize that what we thought and what they thought were totally different. THE MEDIA — aren’t they judging Donald Trump before they have given him a chance? I find it sad that we have a new President going into office and the “only” person who has said something “positive” about him was Henry Kissinger. Judging — good topic and one for all of us to think about. There’s that expression… “WHO are WE to JUDGE.” I do believe that if the media shared more “positive” stories of people helping others that we (the world, the people) would focus on doing more good in the world. Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: To Judge or “Judge Not” | Mitch Teemley

  3. nancyehead says:

    A fabulous account! Thanks for being real.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Kudos to you, Mitch for the courage to meet with Richard. Your effort reaped great dividends of understanding, reconciliation, and peace — and set a great example for the rest of us!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jennie says:

    This story is a great one, because it is complex, and the message has to find it’s way through “stuff”. Important. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome life lesson. Not everything is as it appears

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On Part 2, I believe though that most of us would be on the defensive when being corrected even in the spirit of humility because we feel bad and may be tempted to rationalize our action, but believer will consider what has been shared, probably not at that moment but in their alone time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So good! Beautiful picture of mercy’s triumph over judgement! It is funny how our judgment of others so often is a projection of how we feel about ourselves. For the most part I tend to be a gracious guy (because I know the grace of my heavenly father), but I most often laps into passing judgement when I am under pressure and wrestling with self doubt. I think it is human nature to judge people the way we judge ourselves, and to judge ourselves the way we judge others. Embracing mercy for ourselves enables us to give mercy, and giving mercy reinforces our self mercy. All of that to say….great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mona Earnest says:

    It’s so tough to pray for those who trespass against us! In the end, it’s The Lord who is helping us to grow (even though we think we are doing it to be nice to someone else). What a wonderful testimony to share. Thank you for that honesty!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ufuomaee says:

    This is a great word! Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post and encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: The Spotlight: To Judge or “Judge Not”? – Grace and Truth

  13. RGS says:

    Courage with Grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Awesome when healing takes place like that. Isn’t cool that Jesus cut right to the heart of the issue of forgiveness, even making it seem impossible, impracticable, and unattainable. However, He knew how powerful it is, and that when we are in His Spirit the impossibles pass away.
    I pray you have many opportunities to see the Lord use you as the years go on. That is living out the Gospel in a world that needs it.

    Thanks brother,
    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Greta Lamfel says:

    Hi Mitch

    thanks for sharing this great post with us. I really enjoyed the following: “There’s only one Being in the universe who knows us completely (even we don’t), and therefore, only He has a right and a reason to judge our motives. So, what constitutes right judgment for the rest of us?

    Jesus tells us not to put ourselves in God’s place, but rather to identify with others, putting ourselves in their place. He challenges us to understand and strive to restore them. Right judgment has a disarming humility to it (“Trust me, I had a lot bigger log in my eye than you do, brother!”), making us instruments of grace and helping others to grow. Wrong judgment has the opposite effect: it puts them on the defensive, obscuring God’s grace and causing them to avoid growth.

    Some time after the incident with the publisher Richard, I began pausing while praying the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-14) when I got to the words “forgive us our debts as we manprayingforgive our debtors.” Debtors (or “trespassers”) are those who have sinned against us, who’ve judged us, or who we perceive as having done so. Each time I got to this point, I would forgive Richard specifically. Soon, I began to pray for his well-being and for his family’s. My feelings were mixed, but on some level, at least, I meant it. Initially, I had no expectation of reconciliation, but in time I began to hope that maybe… And then one day, prompted by God, I called Richard and asked him to meet me for coffee.”

    Let’s connect? Head over to http://www.healthyliving894.com

    Kind regards
    Greta

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a great story of forgiveness! I try to drill into the heads of the kids in my youth group that prayer is the beginning of the process of forgiveness. It’s hard to hate someone forever that we are asking God to help us forgive.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s