As our Matthew study moves forward, the questions have been posed for discussion via Facebook: "Have you been judged? Have you judged others?" Ah. There was a lengthy silence from those tagged (who typically speak up and willingly weigh in on any topic). Finally, someone bravely spoke up. The thread progressed as ladies weighed in on how they would define judgment before one piped up to talk about how her thoughts were something she was glad others couldn't hear. I could almost see her cringing.
My response to her willingness to admit to what is also an issue for me was one typed and deleted several times as I gave consideration to what judgment is. Someone suggested that it is forming an opinion of someone else without knowing their circumstances, but that's not quite what I think. I'm not certain what it is, but I think judgment is assigning guilt or innocence. I think it assigns or assumes motive. That's treacherous ground to walk as it is defined by personal perception and experience. Those sorts of thoughts damage my relationships with other people and ultimately with God, but the underlying attitudes must change for my thoughts to become honoring to God. Worse, when I open my mouth giving form to those words, I become a contagion of pride and sin.
Simply seeing that I need to avoid the assignment of motivation to others helps shed light on why it is crushing to be wrongly assigned motives. Just as those who judged me harshly could not see my heart, I cannot know what's going on in someone else's head. I can choose to seek an attitude of compassion when I suspect sinful motives. Compassion does not hold it's head high in the face of anyone's sin. That is a place from which I can look out on the world with eyes reflective of God's mercy in sending Christ for all the wrong-headed, sinful people like me.