I enjoy writing about productivity–a theme that transcends the past few articles I’ve written for Compared to Who. Comparison and productivity have a natural synergy, though the first can completely zap the latter. But this month, I feel a mental block on that topic. As I fumble around trying to figure out what to write, I stumble on the answer. I want to talk about something that is truly weighing on my heart — judgement, the worst form of comparison.
Heather recently wrote this insightful post called 4 Reasons You Don’t Need More Self-Esteem. I’d like to propose a fifth reason; self-esteem leads to judgement.
As a society, we completely pick people apart. We focus on the flaws or sins of others. We pick apart their looks or intelligence or whatever else it is we can find that places us ahead of another person. If we look hard enough, we can pick apart something on anyone. In the pursuit of self-esteem, we easily slip into the habit of judging others to feel better about ourselves.
Judging is out of control in our country. We judge what people wear, how they style their hair, their cars, and houses, how they do (or do not) raise their children. As a homeschooling family in the Christian community, you would think it would be better. Sadly, the answer is no. After 16 years of homeschooling, I can honestly say it is a war zone of judgment. Families are judged for curriculum choices, going (or not going) to a co-op, the clothes we allow our daughters to wear, dating versus courtship, or even family diets. It is insane, and this is one small segment of our society.
What God Says About Judging Others
In truth, do I really need to wonder what God thinks?
Scripture clearly shows how the Lord feels about judgement. We are warned not to judge others (Matthew 7:1-5; James 4:11-12), We are also warned to judge fairly (Proverbs 31:9; Leviticus 19:15). My oldest son went on a spring break church trip a few years ago and the theme of the week was “Build Up or Shut Up”. This phrase is still used in our home.
When we tear someone down, the primary reward is building ourselves up.
This happens frequently when another person’s sin is visible (i.e. sexual sin, substance abuse, gluttony). Yet since none are sinless, we look past the plank of our own sins to focus only on the sins others. If along our journey to feel better about ourselves we forget our own sinfulness, then we have actually reached narcissism. (The 3rd self-esteem outcome Heather mentions in this post).
So how does a girl who has an ISTJ (Introverted/Sensing/Thinking/Judging) Meyers-Briggs personality profile live a life that is non-judgmental?
It isn’t easy, as a matter of fact, my judging score is 97%. Judging doesn’t necessarily mean that I live my life scanning the world around me for defects. It means when presented with options, I will make a decision based on facts. I value systems, logic, and practical solutions. (Can you tell now why I love productivity?)
The truth is I also have to be very careful. I see things as very black and white. I judge people for weird things (i.e. loading the dishwasher wrong, folding towels wrong, not vacuuming out of a room, or not having an efficient workflow). Other “flaws” that may send some people over the edge go by me like water over a duck’s back.
Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of the typical judgmental issues as well. But I have been working very hard on it. It is a painfully slow process. Having a special needs son has helped some, but then I find myself judging others for judging him. See the vicious cycle?
What can a girl to do when she wants Christ-esteem instead of self-esteem?
A Different Kind of Self-Examination
Surprisingly, it takes self-examination. Only a different kind than the navel-gazing we hear so much about in the media.
The only way to give this examination is to tilt a mirror upwards. We need the Lord to examine our hearts. It is when we have a true comprehension of our sin that we can cry out to the Lord (Psalms 26:2, Jeremiah 11:20, Jeremiah 12:3):
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalms 51
Did you notice how David teaches sinners through the joy of salvation, singing of His righteousness, and declaring his praises?
He didn’t desire to beat them over the head with the judgement stick. In today’s world that’s the equivalent of destroying others through social media or gossip. It’s become a blood sport in our culture.
I fail here, not only because I have judged and gossiped, but because I have remained silent. I have lacked compassion to stand up for the judged because I didn’t want to be judged myself. Christ gave us a new commandment, “Love others as I have loved you.” (John 13:34). It is pretty simple actually; don’t judge, love. It is time that we give up our robes of judgment and put on robes of compassion. In this simple act, we become less self-centered and much more Christ-centered.
Brandi Webster from Texas married over 20 years with four children whom she has homeschooled since 2000. She’s a Jesus girl who is addicted to all things coffee, books and hot Texas summers. She is passionate about productivity, organization, and performance improvement. She is constantly looking for ways to improve productivity at home, school, and work. Her goal is to inspire others to consider how effective they are in different areas of their life and try new ways to improve in order to achieve greater results. She blogs at www.BrandiWebster.com. Read Brandi’s posts here.