Whenever I think of judgmental people, it's always people like Jerry Falwell, Al Sharpton, and those wild protestors from Westboro Baptist who come to mind - never me.
Recently though, a good friend of mine was in a job situation where he was constantly being judged by his boss, a middle-aged man who had a knack for alienating everyone around him. He regularly sent my friend long, nit-picky emails and offered unhelpful, stinky-faced critiques. The worst part was that my friend was already going into the work situation with a lot of fear and insecurity, and his hyper-critical boss was just making things worse.
I wasn't judgmental like the Westboro protestors - no way - instead, like my friend's boss, I was just regularly taking it upon myself to - you know, evaluate others. But unlike his boss, who could at least say he had actually been hired to evaluate others, I volunteering full-time.
For the most part, evaluating others happened in my mind, but as I became more aware of it, I realized I was doing it more often than I realized. And I validated my false of superiority by regularly presuming. For example . . .
- I presumed to know what others were thinking and called it "intuition" or the "gift of discernment";
- I presumed to understand peoples' issues, even if they hadn't discussed those issues with me.
- I presumed to know enough facts about peoples' histories, characters, and motivations to judge their (oftentimes-complicated) choices; and
- I presumed to know where people stood with God, because apparently, I had the inside track on that.
To be clear, I don't think resigning my post as Evaluator of the Universe means I'm called to ignore evil. It means I'm released from wading into the gray areas of other people's lives - basically, I'm setting myself free to let God do His job.