So many of us stay silent for fear of being deemed judgmental. But is it ever okay to pronounce judgment? Does Love ever speak?
Do you tell your cousin that five beers a night is too much? Do you tell your brother that his girlfriend’s behavior is selfish? Do you tell your friend that she needs to yell at her kids less and listen a little more?
I feel uncomfortable even reading those questions because I am petrified of being judgmental. I know all the rational arguments against judgment: Who made me the authority? Why should I presume to know the motives of another’s heart? And ultimately—what would my words of judgment really accomplish anyway?
These questions are rooted in legitimate concerns. Jesus understood these concerns when he said “judge not lest ye be judged.” He continually warned people (namely religious people) that they should love more and condemn less—that they should make sure to remove the planks from their own eyes before they notice the specks in their brothers’.
So does his command of “judge not” imply that we should stay silent?
Most questions can be answered by acknowledging Christ’s overarching, under-lying, all-encompassing command: love one another. But sometimes Love is silent, and sometimes Love speaks. And the only way we can determine whether to give voice or remain hushed is by abiding in the Source of Love. So please- if you’re not abiding in Love—for all of our sakes—stay silent. Judge not.
For judgment can only be Kingdom-building if it is rooted in love. And Love does not seek power or self-affirmation. Love wants what is best for the other—Love recognizes how a person’s worth does not reside in a person’s behavior. Love sheds light on error only with the intent of illuminating greater truth . This truth is the spark that unlocks the radiance of who this other person could be in God.
It is true that I do not want ignorant people, fueled by their arrogance, to judge my behavior. Because Arrogance is a sly foe; he parades under the guise of “selflessness” but he judges only with the intent of beefing up his own ego (this is the girl who longs to find the error in her friend’s ways with the intent of confirming that her own ways are right.) I do not need Arrogance’s Judgments— God protect me from the pronouncements of the prideful.
But do you want to speak the truth to me in love? Because you want what is best for me? Then please, please, please—for redemption’s sake—for my sake—and for Christ’s sake—do not stay silent. It is true that your words alone cannot change me—but they just might open my spirit up enough to a God who can.