Friday, July 17, 2020

Understanding People Is Superior to Judging People



When Linda and I counsel people, our first goal is to understand them. Understanding precedes evaluation. This is true for your doctor, as well as your auto mechanic. It's Rule #1 when it comes to dealing with conflict in relationships.

This has been a good, and hard, life lesson for me. Because I have judged people, at times, wrongly. This has taught me to go slow when it comes to understanding another person's heart.

I am asking God to free my heart from being quick to judge the hearts of others. I don't want to spend the hours of my life doing that.


What about judging behaviors? We can, and will, do that. We can make judgments about many things without being judgmental. Here, for example, is a moral judgement: It's wrong to rape people for fun. I judge this statement to be true.

When it comes to people, one cannot make a reasonable judgment without first understanding. It is foolish to judge without understanding. 

Here things get tricky, because it is about the hearts of other people. So Linda and I go slow here. We barely understand the complexities of our own heart. How can we think we have access to the inner workings of another person's heart and mind? Yet this is what the judgmental person claims. They say, "I know what you are thinking!" Or: "I know why you did that!" Which makes us want to respond by saying, "Just who are you - God?"

Instead of judging, understand. Strive to understand others and be understood by them. When understanding is the goal, judgmentalism often morphs into compassion.

Time spent judging the hearts of other people is wasted time. Because:
  • First - our judgments can be wrong, and are probably incomplete.
  • Second - judgmentalism has no redemptive value. The point of judging others' hearts is simply: to judge others' hearts. There is an intrinsic circularity, a sick redundancy, to judgmentalism.
  • Third - we can't change peoples' hearts anyway, so why waste time judging them? Years ago God told me, "John, why are you trying so hard to change other people,  when you can't even change your own self?"
I have spent too much "judging time" towards other people. It is non-redemptive, non-edifying, and hateful. I have judged people falsely (even in my own home), with the result being, not corporate household transformation into truth and love, but a deformed, loveless heart inside me.

Spend time with God today.


Ask God to search out your heart. 

Spend your life on being searched-out by God, instead of playing God with the hearts of people.

If God reveals to you some truth about another person's struggle, thank him that he has entrusted you with this knowledge, and pray for that person.

If they should come to you for wisdom, it can be a sign that they trust you. They trust you to understand them. And, out of that understanding, discern the good and perfect will of God for them.



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My books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.