You’ve heard it said that “first impressions are everything”. While a part of us rages against that idea because ideally, we shouldn’t form perceptions of others based on a first meeting, the saying is quite accurate. We do form opinions of others based on our perceptions.
But that’s so shallow!
It appears to be shallow for some because we want to believe that people will seek to get to know us better… to give us a chance. However, perceptions are performed instantaneously and are often based on appearances, personal hygiene, intellect, character, etc. The fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, we do judge others. We form opinions based on our own criteria.
Why do we do this?
It may be part of a weeding process. Sometimes appearances/characteristics can tell you a great deal about a person. When you are spending limited time with an individual- such as interviewing them- a decision needs to be made rather quickly. There isn’t enough time to “delve deeper”. It also allows us to gauge whether we want to get to know this person better- do we have things in common- otherwise spending time together might not be beneficial for either party.
Additionally, people don’t want to necessarily be with someone who may be toxic, or display negative qualities as they tend to drain your energy.
Jesus discusses judging others in Matthew 7:1-5. This type of judging goes beyond just first appearances. It is a person who is critical of others and is quick to point out their deficits while completely ignoring their own.
And as much as we don’t want to believe we are “that person”, many times we are. We tend to see flaws in others faster than we see our own. The irony is that, for the most part, we only see them because they are a reflection of our own issues.
So How Do You stop judging others? What is the harm when it’s just your perception?
There is quite a bit of harm, actually. Our perceptions have been rooted in past experiences. Our opinions can additionally be tainted by our own feelings. So when we meet someone that displays a characteristic, a memory is often triggered of a past event. The memory may be pleasant, or it may be traumatic. If it’s negative, it may affect how we interact with this person because we’ve already judged them negatively.
In short, something in us either says, “Watch out!” or “Be guarded”. We end up keeping them at a distance.
Judging others without getting to truly know them on more than a superficial level may hamper our ability to minister to them, or to share with them. Our perceptions can cloud our ability to walk in love with a certain person because all we are seeing is the negative.
Many of us formulate that we simply don’t like the person- or don’t like something about them. Therefore, we never get to know them. However, what if that brash, abrasive person that you avoid has a spouse that just left them? What if they were diagnosed with something terrible and can’t deal with it? What if they are just plain hurting? Would that change your perspective?
Helen Murray will fully discuss the topic of judging others. She will detail when the appropriate time to judge is (for example, when we are judging someone by their fruit), and when judging borders on being critical.
Helen will also talk about how to tell if you are being over-judgemental or critical, and how to see others as God sees them.
Our next issue will come out on January 27, 2020, and is available on our website, through our free mailing list, through push notifications, and across major social media.