To Judge or Not to Judge, That is the Question

Do you ever find yourself in judgment towards someone or yourself? It’s kind of a silly question. If we are honest with ourselves, we frequently find ourselves in judgment! In fact, we can live in a state of perpetual judgment. Driving down the freeway, for instance, there is a little voice sitting off to the side, perhaps perched on our shoulder, that can keep up a constant banter of varying commentaries about the quality of others' driving, the performance or lack thereof of co-workers, the inadequacies of a spouse or partner, and best of all, our own shortcomings and tendencies towards imperfection!

By the time we arrive at our destination, we are fairly exhausted from our time on the bench. Having performed a whole morning of adjudication our energies our spent! Such it seems goes the human existence!

Can you imagine the freedom you might feel if you were able to release judgment and abide in a state of acceptance and forgiveness? I’m not sure it has even dawned on some of us that this is even a possibility. We are so accustomed to making judgments that we see it as the only reality. We often call this being discriminating. It actually is a form of discrimination—one that shuts us off from others and makes us feel either inferior or superior from others.

It separates us and keeps us from understanding the connectedness and oneness that exists within all of creation. We perhaps have confused discrimination and judgment with discernment. To be discerning is to see what we see. To be discerning is to go through life with our eyes, ears, and hearts open. The difference, however, is that we do not place judgments on what we see and hear. We become observers of ourselves and others rather than adjudicators of all of life’s events.

The scriptures give a fairly clear warning about judging. “Judge not that you be not judged.” It is a principle that warns us away from our tendencies to place ourselves above or below others. If we can release judgment and embrace acceptance we move closer towards freeing ourselves to truly grow. Judgment is like quicksand. It sucks us into a locked position that prohibits us from moving forward.

Once we move into judgment we are in a closed position. We have reached a conclusion and shut the door. In order to grow, to be of service to others, and to bring healing into our lives and our world, we must remain open. This requires the suspension of judgment. We must be willing to adapt a “wait and see” attitude. From this stance we are able to entertain optimism, extend forgiveness, and relinquish our tight-fisted control over things.

Think of the freedom that is waiting for you if you start to release judgment and move into a more fluid state of acceptance. This is exactly the message preached by Jesus. It is in understanding that it is not in our doing but in our being that God delights. It is our essence that we long to discover. This is how we wish to be seen by others.

If we can begin to look for that essence in ourselves, seek to see it in others, and release our tendencies to see only that which is wrong, we are on the path to living a life free of judgments. This is a path of peace.