“We are not supposed to judge” is a remark heard often when people consider the rightness or wrongness of current lifestyles or practices, including abortion, illegitimate childbirth, marital infidelity and couples living together without marriage. In past years, society’s majority considered most of these practices to be wrong and unacceptable. Now they are increasingly practiced and tolerated.
People who say “We are not supposed to judge” might do so out of a sense of fairness to others or to make allowances for their own wrongdoing. And of course, the saying might be drawn from Jesus’ admonition, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” However, Jesus did not make that statement to discourage or to prevent humans from making judgments. Instead, he wanted to make it clear that those making judgments of others will be divinely judged by the same standards.
It is quite obvious that all people make judgments, often, and about many things, which is an absolute necessity. Failure to do so would endanger health and life itself. People make judgments about going to bed, getting out of bed, when to cross a street or railroad, when to work, when to get married and when to retire. Farmers and plant lovers make judgments about when it is time to plow, plant seeds, fertilize and harvest. People make judgments about when it is time to replace a roof, do painting, replace a furnace and treat a house for termites and other insects. People make judgments about what to buy, where to bank, how they should invest their money and if and how to write a will. All of us make judgments about eating, clothing, medications, places of residence, friends and schedules. Parents make judgments concerning their children’s attire, their friends, their schooling, their careers and their choice of a spouse. People make judgments about which church they will or will not attend, what religion to embrace and whether they will attend church themselves or just send their children.
It would be ridiculous and foolhardy to assume that an automobile mechanic is being “narrow-minded” for “judging” that a car’s tires are dangerously worn, its brakes are defective and its engine has an oil leak. Are we to consider a physician unkind for telling a patient about the dangers caused by alcohol abuse, drug abuse, obesity and smoking? Or that a person has a ruptured appendix or that a patient requires hospice care? Is a teacher prejudiced or brutal for telling students that they should give more attention to their studies or that their grades are too low for them to graduate? Is a bank teller being narrow-minded or unfeeling to tell a customer that his account is overdrawn?
We must make judgments about many things. Jesus indicated that we must make judgments to determine whether prophets are true or false and which fruit trees are productive or unproductive. The apostle Paul said, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” Our creator gave us a mind and the ability to make judgments and choices. Joshua challenged his people, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” He added, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, ... but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Persons making judgments about the aforementioned lifestyles are often maliciously attacked and accused of being “prejudiced,” “narrow-minded,” “hateful” and even people of “shame.” Call it narrow-mindedness, bias, prejudice, judgmental or whatever, but to me, it is the better part of wisdom for people to judge, to make judgments and choices that honor God, protect human life and improve society itself.
The judgments people make might determine their quality of life and even their eternal destiny. While it is essential for people to make many judgments every day, all people would benefit by making judgments that can make life what it was created to be.
Judge? Yes. Judge and choose, for now and forever.
Ray Hodge is a retired Baptist minister who makes his home in Smithfield.