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“We are not supposed to judge,” is a remark often heard when people consider the rightness or wrongness of current lifestyles or practices such as sexual perversion, abortion, illegitimacy, marriage unfaithfulness, couples living together without marriage, same-sex marriage, lying, stealing and cheating. While most of those practices were considered by society’s majority in past years to be wrong and unacceptable, they are increasingly practiced, tolerated, promoted and even paraded and bragged about in today’s society.
When people say, “We are not supposed to judge,” they may do so out of a sense of fairness to others or to make allowances for their own wrongdoing. And of course, the saying may be drawn from Jesus’ admonition, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” That statement, however, was not made to discourage or to prevent humans from making judgments, but to make it clear that those making judgments of others will be divinely judged by the same standards.
It’s quite obvious that all people make judgments, often, and about many things, which is an absolute necessity. Not doing 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’s time to plow, plant seeds, fertilize and harvest. People make judgments about when it’s time to replace a roof, paint, 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 a vehicle owner or an automobile mechanic is being “narrow-minded” for “judging” that a car’s tires need replacing, its brakes are defective and its engine has an oil leak.
Is a physician considered to be unkind for telling a patient about the dangers caused by alcohol abuse, drug abuse, obesity and smoking, that a person has a ruptured appendix or that a patient requires hospice care?
Is a teacher being “prejudiced” or “brutal” to tell 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 or her account is overdrawn?
It’s essential for people to 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 (I Corinthians 6:3), “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.” And he said (Joshua 24:15), “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.”
People 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, and to make judgments and choices that respect people, honor God, protect human life and improve society itself.
The judgments people make may determine their safety, 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 it if they make 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 pastor living in Smithfield. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.