It seems to me that judgment finds a very comfortable affinity with pride. Judgment finds comfort in telling ourselves, and others around us, something about something or someone else, while pride convinces us that our judgments are indeed correct.
But this process is a sneaky one; perhaps especially for the Christian. Because while true discernment is a necessary tool worthy of honing, judgment can often disguise itself under the label of "discernment," and do its cruel and divisive work without being noticed at all. Judgment, while secretly whispering "test the fruit" in your ear, can be one of the most formidable wolves in sheep's clothing that we, as Christians, wrestle with - if we're aware enough of it to actually engage in the wrestling.
[quote]And no marvel: for Satan himself is transformed [disguised] into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed [disguised] as the ministers of righteousness... (KJV, 2 Cor. 11.14-15)[/quote]
But how do we know the difference? How do we defend against the impressive one-two punch of judgment and pride? Could we even define the difference if asked? How do we keep our spirit in line with the righteous act of testing fruit, while avoiding the slippery slope of corrupt judgment?
For the clinical separation, the word used for "judge" in the statement "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (KJV, Matt. 7.1) is the Greek word "Krino," while the Greek word for "discern" is "Diakrisis."
A quick review of the two words (should you decide to chase the above provided links) will reveal a very distinct difference. We as Christians are told not to judge with our eyes. I think that should suffice pretty well for our current discourse. Without getting too technical, the idea here is to righteously judge the fruit utilizing God's Word as our ONLY barometer. And not only are we required to ONLY use His Word and His Wisdom to measure things by, but we are perhaps only to test fruit when it is pertinent to the soul, or has some kind of eternal, or at least a lasting value.
Example: "Obama is trying to destroy America." This statement is a judgment. There is no way any of us can actually know that - unless of course you know Obama personally and he's told you as much. And if that's the case, I would love to know about it. What might be true is that the actions Obama is taking could destroy America, but claiming that that is what he is trying to do is a judgment of intent. And no matter how much we think we're right on with that kind of thing, it is unrighteous in the eyes of the Lord; it is a judgment of the inner parts of someone, and there is only one Heart-knower. Obama may not be the wisest of chaps; you may not agree with him; what he's doing may well destroy this country, but that does not mean he isn't doing what he BELIEVES will save it. And if that is the case, is he doing any more or less than we would be if we held that position?
Example 2: "The person driving in front of me is a complete jerk! They're driving slow just to spite me!" The thing is, it's really not about us when it comes to other people. Honestly, when you're driving, how much time to you give to the others driving around you unless you've found something to complain at them about? That person most likely isn't even aware of your existence. And if they are, they're probably in front of you going, "This jerk is really riding my butt! I'm going to drive slower just to make him/her back off." And round it goes.
Example 3: "That person posted that on their facebook page to get at me. Why don't they just say it to my face?! I'm so sick of this passive-aggressive crap! You wanna go?!!" Well, you get the idea.
In times such as these I find it prudent, and rather liberating, to play the "what if" game with myself. I realize most games are played with other people, but when you've been a writer as long as I have, there are a number of accidental side effects - this being one of them.
So the next time you find yourself condemning someone for a particular intent that produced the action that's really annoying you, start asking yourself a few "what ifs."
If someone is driving slow in front of you, begin with:
"What if their eyesight is impaired and they don't know it?"
"What if they can't afford glasses because they're unemployed, but have to drive to survive?"
"What if their depth perception is off and they think they're closer to the car in front of them than they really are?"
"What if someone they loved died in a car crash and they're terrified it's going to happen to them?"
"What if they just lost a loved one and are doing well just to function enough to drive a car?"
If you ask enough of these questions when you find yourself getting agitated, you will eventually discover a couple of results: 1) the process itself will serve to curb your anger a bit, and 2) you will find there are a whole heck of a lot of other reasons this person could be doing the thing that irritates you OTHER THAN just to irritate you.
Oh yeah, and you'll be doing one more thing: You'll be behaving as Christ instructed. And isn't that the point?