What Judgment Means and Why it Hurts

The topic of judgment is delicate because we often use the same word in completely different ways. Sometimes we talk about judgment in terms of having the ability to make good decisions or carefully thinking through something before giving an opinion.

For example, you might say: “It is against my better judgment to buy the car based on the mechanic’s report of numerous problems in the engine. And so it would be wise to refrain from buying the car.”

These are important judgments, and we make them all throughout the day:

  • Should I allow my daughter to spend the night at her friend’s house?
  • Should I agree to helping with the project?
  • Should we buy now or save up?

We appraise the situation in these instances and make sound decisions based on what we discern.

Is it Wrong to Make Judgments?

Not all judgments are wrong. For instance, it is not improper to make judgments in which you are:

  • Discerning that something is wrong, unsafe or unwise (“You shouldn’t be out alone late at night.”)
  • Determining that someone is behaving inappropriately (“You shouldn’t have cussed out your neighbor.”)
  • Rightly disciplining your children for making poor choices (“You can’t go out tonight because you’re failing math and you need to study.”)
  • Sharing how someone has hurt your feelings (“It hurt when you told me that you don’t care.”)

In the instances above, you are judging the situation, the behavior or the choices. You are not judging the person. You take a turn in the wrong direction when you begin to demean or defame someone’s character.

It is wrong to make judgments in which you are:

  • Deciding “why” a person is the way he/she is without having accurate information (“I heard that she hates all men ever since her divorce.”)
  • Assuming that someone is intending to upset you just because you’re uncomfortable with their behavior (“He’s trying to embarrass me by refusing to go to the party.”)
  • Believing that you are better or more worthy than they are (“If he worked as hard as I do, his family wouldn’t need financial assistance.”)
  • Blaming someone else for your own discontentment (“If she wasn’t so frigid I could be happy in my marriage.”)
  • Speaking disrespectfully about someone’s character (“You’re so stupid.”)
  • Expecting that someone will never change (“He’s an alcoholic and that’s never going to change.”)
  • Concluding that it’s all their fault (“We’ll never get out of debt because she’s too lazy to get a job.”)

Directing Your Judgment at the Situation

Releasing judgment is no simple task. Whether you realize it or not, expectations often become self-fulfilling. Then, when you get what you expect, it confirms your belief and deepens the conviction that you were correct. Over time pride seeps in and you find yourself smugly triumphant over the behavior that you detest.

One way of knowing whether you have a negative expectation is the frequent use of the words “always” and “never.”

At this point, the focus is primarily on the situation. The circumstances are aggravating but there is no significant harm in the words spoken. After all, as humans we sometimes annoy each other.

Harm does come, however, when the words spoken belittle or demean the person. You might say, “You are inconsiderate and lazy and you obviously don’t care about anyone but yourself.”

This is a judgmental statement and if spoken over time, it can define how the person feels about themselves and it can result in the behavior continuing or getting worse. These words fuel a low self-esteem which paralyzes them and prevents them from having the motivation to improve or change.

Releasing Judgment in a Healthy Manner

We often hear complaints from couples that go something like this: “He’s great at work and with everyone else but he’s totally checked out at home and hard on me and the kids.” Or: “She’s happy when she’s talking on the phone with her friends but she’s miserable and crabby with us.”

It is not motivating to hang out at home when you are living under accusations and negativity, but shutting down and refusing to express your feelings is not the answer. Unexpressed anger and frustration turns into resentment, which will likely erupt sometime down the road.

There is a way to honestly communicate your concerns without accusing, blaming and hurting people, but there is an important step you must take first: you must renounce your judgments.

Here are just a few ways that letting go of your judgments will benefit you:

  • You will have a positive outlook on life and anticipate a bright future.
  • Other people’s imperfections will not drag you down.
  • People will want to please you, want to make you proud and enjoy being around you.
  • The environment in your home will be more relaxed and peaceful.

God loves you always—no matter what. But when you take His place and make yourself someone else’s judge, you get in His way. He will handle the situation perfectly if you allow Him to and you will enjoy a closer relationship with Him.

We’ve talked about renouncing judgments but we haven’t said how. If you’d like to know more, read our FREE eBook on judgment.


How to Let Go Of Judgmental Thoughts