Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Healing from Judgmentalism -HIRD

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Many people dream of Christmas time being a family time where everyone can get along.  Sometimes people drink heavily at Christmas as a way of self-medicating the pain of being in close quarters with their family.  Most of us find it painful to be around people, including spouses, who are being very judgmental and negative.  In some families, judgmentalism is the air that we breath.  It is all that we know.  What might it look like to be healed from judgmentalism at Christmas?
When Jesus famously tells us not to judge in Matthew 7:1, he is not telling us to be undiscerning, but rather not to condemn and reject other people with whom we may disagree.  Yes, there is a place for constructive criticism with our spouses, family, coworkers and friends, but it needs to rooted in an environment of love, acceptance and encouragement.  This is why Dr John Gottman found that in healthy marriages and relationships, people make five positive comments for every negative comment.  Healing from judgmentalism involves choosing words of life over words of death and destruction, especially at Christmas.
Billy Graham, who turned 98 this month, insightfully said this year that being judgmental and constantly criticizing others is wrong in the eyes of God.   It is not one of the gifts of the Spirit, like the gift of encouragement.  You can’t criticize and condemn people into Christlikeness.  Dr. Graham, who has spoken in person to over 260 million people, observed that a judgmental attitude also blinds us to our own faults. (Have you ever noticed that judgmental people almost never criticize themselves?) Jesus said that such judgmentalism is like having a log in our eye while trying to doing eye surgery on someone else’s speck of sawdust.  Judgmental people are often very insecure, and are constantly seeking to build themselves up. One way they do this is by tearing other people down. But in reality, said Dr. Graham, they end up tearing themselves down also, because no one wants to be their friend.  Judgmental people are often the loneliest people on earth.  Renouncing judgmentalism restores the gift of relationship particularly with our families.
Jesus gave us a difficult task: to judge or discern nonjudgmentally: “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” (Luke 12:54) At the heart of judgmentalism is prejudice, which means to pre-judge, to judge too quickly before you have taken time to examine the facts. Jesus can deliver us from the curse of prejudice.  It is not a sin to have moral convictions about right and wrong, but we need to take the time to carefully listen to other people’s viewpoints and never condemn other people when we disagree with them.  Healing from judgmentalism requires a willingness to die to the need to win arguments for their own sake.  People become more important than our need to always be right.   I will always remember my sister advising me about a difficult situation: “Be kind.”  We can all learn to be more kind like Jesus, gentle like Jesus, humble like Jesus, and nonjudgmental like Jesus.  Even when Jesus challenged people to repent and turn from sin and selfishness, he was always loving, tolerant, and kind. 
You can’t reach people for Christ to whom you are being judgmental.  Judgmentalism just drives them away.  Is there anyone in your life that you need to stop judging this Christmas?
Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

-an article for the OSL Christmas Issue of the Canadian Healer


Peter Black said...

An important and necessary message - thanks Ed. Oh yes, the old prejudging and prejudicial spirit rises up so readily doesn't it? I thank God that my scriptural frame of reference often sends verses zinging to mind to check my attitude. I reckon it's rather freeing and helps me to live in liberty.
I appreciate your mention of Dr. Billy Graham. He's very dear to millions of us around the world. ~~+~~

Ed Hird+ said...

Thanks for your encouraging comments, Peter.


Ed Hird+

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