Judging Others by What We Don’t Know

Micah 6:8Dismiss these as the ramblings of a deeply troubled man who is too weary to sleep if you will; I’m okay with that. You may be right.

But just in case I’m not, please take a moment to consider them.

I have offered on these pages and elsewhere my judgment that we should judge words and actions, but not judge others. By that I mean that we have no right, authority or ability to pronounce judgment on others: make broad statements about their motives and their character; absolve or condemn their souls. We are to judge actions and words — of others, as well as our own — and lovingly, humbly, and personally (privately at first) attempt to persuade the one who strays to amend and make amends.

I’ve proposed that we have no ability to make accurate moral judgments of others’ motives and character because:

  • Our own may be suspect; not pure.
  • We do not have complete knowledge of their circumstances in life, influences and pressures on them.
  • We do not have infallible knowledge of another’s heart. It’s difficult enough, at times, to know our own hearts. God, however, knows them better than we know ourselves.

Let me propose yet another reason we do not have this ability:

  • We don’t know the complete physical condition of another person.

Millions of people suffer from health challenges ranging from depression to schizophrenia to hormonal/chemical imbalances of the body and brain. Sometimes — many times — they are not even aware of them, and these conditions go undiagnosed and untreated.

These conditions affect judgment and behavior. The laws of many lands recognize this, and shelter those who may be guilty for these reasons once diagnosed.

You can’t tell by looking at a person — or even at their acts, or hearing their words — if they are so affected. You may suspect it, but some of these conditions will stump medical doctors trying to accurately diagnose them.

Oh, it’s easy to just regard someone in their misery and think “crazy person” or “they made their own bed; now they have to lie in it.” Anyone can do that. And we all do.

In doing so, we disqualify ourselves as accurate judges of others’ motives and character.

We would not want to be judged in that way.

So for that reason, Jesus says “Don’t judge.”

In the past three weeks, I have seen enough of the inside of waiting rooms, emergency rooms, examination rooms and recovery rooms to last me for the rest of my life. Not one of them is fully private. You hear and see people in all kinds of misery. You have no idea the depth to which it takes their souls.

Sometimes, all you can do is respect what little privacy they have … withhold your judgment out of your awareness of your completely insufficient comprehension of the human condition … and silently pray.

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4 thoughts on “Judging Others by What We Don’t Know

  1. (Call me biased, but I really like the pic w/this post…)

    Keith, thanks for always encouraging us to display the grace of our Lord by withholding our judgment of others.

    So sorry that you’ve become so well-acquainted w/so many various medical facilities–and the pain & hurt that accompany them–over the past few weeks.

    Continuing to pray for you & yours, KB. Sometimes I pray silently. Sometimes I pray aloud. Sometimes I pray with tears. I pray in the mornings when I get up. In the evenings before I sleep. In the afternoons, at 2:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. EST, the customary time of prayer).

    I pray continually, Blogfather.

  2. “In the past three weeks, I have seen enough of the inside of waiting rooms, emergency rooms, examination rooms and recovery rooms to last me for the rest of my life.”

    Been there too Keith. These things have hammered a lot of judgmentalism out of me. Watching my wives suffer has broken me like nothing else.

    I continue to stand with you believing for healing that seems unbelievable.

    Blessings, bob

  3. “Shoot first. Ask questions later.” Yes, I know people who live by that rule, and unfortunately they are often in a position to publicly criticize others in the church.

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