So as a good person, you want to live a godly, fulfilling and productive life in the midst of (or in spite of) a world of imperfection and injustice. Sometimes it seems impossible, right? If you’re like me, frustration and disappointment seem to be a greater part of my experiences than I would like them to be. For example, how do we reconcile, or “live in harmony” with someone who wants nothing of it. Or how do you work as a team when one or more of the so-called team members are controlling or even a bit manipulative? Or maybe your own limitations or failures are holding you back from accomplishing greater things. Whether or not other people change, we can experience the peace and rest of God that our heart longs for.
In order for you to be more tolerant with yourself and others, it is essential for you to understand a human being’s thirst for justice and the “will to judge.”
The English word “judge” can mean many things across a spectrum of “good” judging and “bad” judging. Good judging may include rightly perceiving, discerning, and discriminating. “Bad” judging is unfair criticizing, pre-judging, misjudging, demeaning, and condemning. Communication via language can be very difficult, but with this word "judge," it can be especially difficult to determine meaning. For example, the word discrimination. Discrimination is a word of "good" judgment, hijacked in recent years to be widely associated with unfairness. In other languages, the problem is the same (like the Greek of Bible translations). Understanding our problems of "bad" judging requires much more than intellect and reason. It must include searching the inner heart of our own being.
Desire for justice is an innate part of our being. Unfortunately, since the moment sin entered the human race through Adam and Eve, our default mode of judging is “bad” judging. When man chose to give up existing solely on the “tree of life,” he chose “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Judging (in the sense of knowing good from evil) was not originally meant for human practice. Only God is the ultimate Judge. God's laws (ways of operating) are supreme. Therefore, any judgment a person makes, (even a “good” judgment), is subject to re-interpretation by a higher power. Only God can satisfy our ultimate desire for justice. God is a God of perfect justice and perfect mercy.
So, although God did not design and desire man to carry the burden of judgment, the problem is that man wills to be his own Judge. Our human nature does not want to accept God as Judge. However, God is Judge, Jury, and Executioner. He makes judgments, is not subject to anyone else’s interpretation, and acts as He wills on His judgments. Our rebellion against this authority is sin.
One more problem makes the human condition inescapable without Christ as Refuge. Shame and judgment work together to condemn our personhood. Shame tells us we are not worthy to be the sons and daughters God created us to be (which is a lie). We confuse shame (who I am) with guilt (what I do) to condemningly judge ourselves unworthy.
This rebellion and shame is so rooted in our nature we accept it as a fact of life. It shows up in the earliest days of childhood. Babies have legitimate needs and cry when they are hungry or uncomfortable. But they sometimes scream in anger for no apparent reason. Toddlers sometimes through tantrums simply to demand their way. Children do not have to be taught how to disobey, steal, manipulate, and the like. The broken world in which we live imposes hurtful experiences causing perceived wounds and reactions ("bad" roots) of bitterness, resentment, blaming, and justifying. Reactions turn into learned patterns of behavior forming who we are on the inside. It is important to recognize, what goes wrong in our life is not because of the bad things others have done to us, but because of our bitter reactions to them.
We also do not have ability to recognize this poor condition. Each person is blind (for the most part) to their own bitter reactions, wounding, and critically judging. Our heart could be compared to a vegetable garden with good plants and weeds growing together. The soil feeds the roots of both good plants and bad. The good plants try to bring forth fruit in keeping with what they were designed to produce, unaware of the weeds stealing nourishment and limiting their ability to produce. God as the Gardener of our heart is the only one who can solve the problem by providing a means for taking care of the weed problem.
No garden will ever be completely free of weeds. Even after a good weed pulling session, seeds are in the soil that will eventually produce more weeds. The seeds of sin are with us as long as we live. Its an unending problem and just part of natural laws. So too our hearts produce weeds as part of our natural existence. The nicest, most good-hearted, loving person carries the same seed as the most inconsiderate, unloving, or abusive person. Even unrecognized or unacknowledged bad behaviors (rooted in bad judging) will grow into unmanageable weeds. Only the Gardener can take care of the weeds.
Jesus is the Gift God provided to make things right in our heart. The miracle cannot be finished with one weed pulling session. It takes a lifetime of pulling weeks. This is called transformation and sanctification.
The greatest enemy in the garden of the heart is the will to critically judge. Our deep desire for justice becomes an excuse for condemning ourselves and other people for who they are instead of merely for their actions. We explain away many condemning judgments on a daily basis. For example, when you think or verbalize the following with a person or persons closest to you in relationship. "I told you a million times not to do ____ (whatever annoys you )______ , but you keep being a jerk about it." Or, "You really don't love me when you __________." Or, "I cannot love you if you keep doing __________ ." Or, "Drivers on the highway are jerks when they __________ ." We accuse and confuse the guilt of "wrong doing" with the shame of "wrong being." In God's eyes (judgment) there is no such thing as "wrong being." God does not think of any person as a jerk. So, if we believe in justice, we cannot think and act that way either.
Again, there is no one exempt from this condition of humanity. No amount of will power can correct it. Instead of the "tree of judging" God wants us to enjoy the "tree of life." Eating fruit from the tree of life means that our thirst for justice is satisfied by the Judge of all judges, not by our own self-determination. God judged sin and shame to be taken care of through the mercy provided by His own Son, Jesus Christ.
Other articles on my blog site explain how to apply this to your life through forgiveness and surrendering our heart to God. If this way of thinking is new to you, or if you had a reaction to something I've written above, go back and read it again. I promise that if you learn to apply this truth to your life, you will see a huge improvement in your relationships with people. I would love to hear from you about how this has made a difference in your life (either before or after reading this).
Be blessed in the justice of God Almighty!
Note: A book I authored Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses truth for dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom through forgiveness (from a Christian perspective). See more about the book by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm .
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry