Love and Judgment Do Not Go Together
by Mark Votava
What I think of most when I hear the word Christianity is judgment. It seems I have seen more judgmental expressions of Christianity than anything else. Words like love, humility, vulnerability, compassion, honesty, simplicity and unity are often times far removed from what I have seen of Christianity in North America. This leaves Christians to become far removed from experiencing the church as a community of love and not judgment.
Judgment, marginalization, oppression and colonialism are often times what Christianity has produced in our coveted wealth, greed and power. We have tried to cultivate a Christianity that wants almost nothing to do with those who live in poverty. We condemn the poor and many others who we think are not like us in our “righteousness.” But we have missed the vulnerable Jesus in the process.
We worship a God of our own making who is full of judgment, wrath and condemnation. We like this God because it represents who we are as judgmental, wrathful and condemning toward others. This is far from the love that God has called us to embody as we live our lives following the way of compassion, kindness and grace.
- Show proper respect
“Show proper respect to everyone …” (1 Peter 2:17).
- Discriminating against ourselves
We all have the tendency to judge others. But to judge others is to deny them proper respect. When we judge one another we discriminate against ourselves and lose our hold on love. Judging others hinders us from loving others.
- Love each other deeply
“Above all, love each other deeply …” (1 Peter 4:8).
- We need to love, not judge
We need to love as the body of Christ, not judge. Judging others tends to be the religious thing to do nowadays. We don’t want to get caught up in all this religious stuff. Instead, we want to love others in a contextual way within the particulars of everyday life in the parish.
- Judging others does more damage than we sometimes realize
Judging others does more damage than we sometimes realize. The communal imagination doesn’t judge others but loves them compassionately.
- Do not judge
“Do not judge, or you too will judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
- Christ does not want us going around judging everyone
It is very clear that Christ does not want the members of his body going around judging everyone.
- A nonjudgmental spirituality
Bruxy Cavey states, “Jesus promoted a nonjudgmental spirituality… Those who follow Jesus are called to represent God’s love to others, but not his judgment …”
- The common human experience
This “nonjudgmental spirituality” communicates love relationally. Christ calls us to love, not to judge. We all would rather be loved than judged. This is a common human experience.
- Judging others keeps us from listening and being present
Judging others keeps us from listening and being present in relationship. Judging others keeps us from practicing compassion. And compassion is at the heart of spirituality. Christ’s love is what we want to express with our lives, not a judgmental attitude that robs us of anything authentic.
- Embodying love toward others
It is so easy to judge and much harder to embody love toward others. If we are to learn to love we have to let go of our need to judge others. Judging others is violent and cruel. It is devaluing and not liberating.
- Judging demands nothing of us
It gives us control over those we judge. It is safe and predictable. It demands nothing of us.
- Love is more powerful than judgment
It is boring and uncreative. But love is more powerful than judgment. It overcomes its power to devalue and control, and helps us to become alive and free.
- Walking in the Spirit and practicing compassion
When we love we become nonjudgmental. How freeing it is not to judge others and to demonstrate our love in our local context. Christ is leading us to take on this nonjudgmental attitude and learn to love in the place we inhabit together. It has a lot to do with walking in the Spirit and practicing compassion.
- We are chained to our ego when we judge
We are chained to our ego when we judge. There is real liberation when we love together as the body of Christ in the parish. It can liberate our imaginations and free us to be more communal.
Do you think judging others promotes love, peace and compassion?