Learning To Judge People Through Their Own Eyes

Proven facts: 

Dunkirk is not a particularly good movie.

Most Christmas carols are bizarre.

I’m a really judgmental person.

I’ve always been a judgmental person. I think it’s part blunt force sin and part personality. I’m not a particularly emotional person, which means that I don’t feel much empathy for people. I’m also one of those annoying driven people who like to get a lot done.

When you mix these two together and throw in a splash of general jerkishness, it makes for a tangy judgmental soup which finishes with a serious kick.

I’ve learned that I judge people out of my strengths. I judge people’s weaknesses based on what I’m good at. I try to stay on top of communicating with people, and it annoys me when people don’t get back to me. I manage to get up relatively early and don’t understand why some people can’t. I’m a runner and don’t get people who say exercise is impossible for them.

As you can imagine, this behavior makes me a ton of fun to be around. Hey, let’s invite Stephen so he can look down on us!

I’m grateful that God, my wife, my kids, and my friends are patient with me.

And I’m trying to learn to judge people out of my weaknesses rather than my strengths.

I’ve been reading a book by Lindy West called Shrill. In it, she chronicles her struggles with weight, body image, rejection, and how she eventually overcame it all to gain self-confidence.

She’s hilarious, but she’s also really aggressive…about everything. Body image, fat acceptance, feminism, abortion rights, and just about everything else. And when I say aggressive, I mean like, in your face, “You gonna do something about it?” aggressive.

Frankly, it’s a bit annoying and off-putting. I find myself judging her for her dogged insistence that she’s the final word on just about everything related to the subjects noted above. Anyone who disagrees with her is a moronic idiot who should be thrown into a meat grinder and fed to rabid raccoons.

But the more I read it, the more I’m aware that she’s writing out of a place of deep pain. She clearly has endured a huge amount of mockery, cruelty, hateful remarks, and straight up evil. She writes for a number of online publications, and I can’t imagine the kinds of comments people leave on her posts.

I’ve never endured anything like this. I haven’t dealt with weight or body image issues. I’ve had the occasional nasty comment left on things I write, but not much. I’ve never had people threaten me with bodily harm or assault. Her personality and weaknesses have been shaped by what she’s endured.

She’s developed an aggressive personality to cope with her circumstances. With the swamp slime of rejection and hate. This doesn’t make her behavior okay, but it should inform how I think about her. How I judge her.

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 3:1-3:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Jesus did not mean we’re not supposed to evaluate whether someone’s actions are sinful. If you’re making meth in your basement, knock it off. He meant that we should judge people based on how we want to be judged. With the same standard. The same measuring stick.

I want people to judge me based on their weaknesses, not their strengths. I have a metric ton of weaknesses, starting with being aggressively judgmental. I’m selfish. Proud. Impatient with my kids and terrible at opening up to people. Too confident in my own opinions and too quick to criticize.

Many of these sinful weaknesses are woven into my DNA, both physical and spiritual. I’ve tried to change a lot of these things, but most of them will be with me to one degree or another for my entire life. I believe God will give me elements of victory over some, but it will happen slowly.

When I read Lindy West, my first thought should be, What experiences have made her the way she is? 

When I see her through this lens, I’m suddenly much more sympathetic. It’s easy for me to compare my weaknesses to her, and my measure of judgment completely changes. I know how pain has shaped me for better or worse, and I can see how pain has done the same to her.

This should be how I judge every person. When I see their weaknesses, my first thought should be, How do similar weaknesses show up in my own life? 

Getting up early and reading my Bible is one of those “spiritual disciplines” issues. I’ve been able to discipline myself to get up early. It’s not particularly hard for me and my dad modeled it well. You know what I suck at? What I haven’t been able to discipline myself to do? Memorize Scripture. Seriously, I’m terrible at it.

That’s how I should think about the spiritual disciplines.

One of the reasons Jesus took on flesh was so that he could sympathize with my human weaknesses. He knows what it’s like to feel tired and hurt and broken. He knows the wounds of rejection. He a merciful High Priest.

In a sense, Jesus judges me through my eyes.

May I do the same.