Sunday Worship Service, January 31, 2009

Judgmentalism Verses True Judgment

SCRIPTURE: 1. Psalm 9:1-8

2. What follows now are the Lord’s well known words from the Gospel of Matthew:

  • “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge YOU will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

But now a final reading, not so well known, from the Gospel of John:

  • “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.

3. And Matthew 23: several verses.

BRIEF READING FROM SWEDENBORG:

From the beginning, human beings have been created in such a way as to be able to discern evil.

MESSAGE

True Judgment verses Being Judgmental

One of the strong tendencies in people of faith is to believe that following the Lord’s command to “judge not” means we should not SEE evil——————-that we should kind of pretend that we don’t see a lot of garbage, for example, that might be right under our nose!!

For some reason, spiritual folks find it very uncomfortable, if not downright wrong, to say outright that something is just simply EVIL.

Clearly that is NOT what the Lord did, and the Pharisees had a few blisters on their bottoms to prove it!!

Sharon and I have watched, more than once, one of the best movies ever made: the awesome and riveting movie called “Judgment At Nuremberg,” with Spencer Tracy and a host of other gifted actors————-the story of the trials of the shameful Nazi judges who put millions of people to death when they knew it was wrong and unjust to do that.

This was an example, par excellence, of judges NOT seeing,,,,,,,,,and with a WILL not to see, that ended in the systematic slaughter of more people than has ever happened in the history of the civilized world!

It truly is as the Lord said:
”Never is one so blind as he who WILL not see.”

On the other hand, those who DO call evil by name often find it almost impossible to do that is a good way, to do it in a way without being cold and judgmental———-to do it without any heart or mercy in their manner or their words.

Well, the Bible doesn’t seem to help much either, as the Scriptures we just read make clear!

On the one hand the Bible tells us to judge not.  And then it says judge, but to judge righteously.

What is that?

How are we to understand this apparent contradiction to judge and yet not judge?

Has anyone here ever read the book called, “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” by Hannah Green?

It’s the true-life story of a young woman’s nightmarish journey through the underworld of schizophrenia.  This is true mental illness at it worst.

And since the author of the book was actually the patient in the novel, it’s more of the INSIDE story of that journey—–what that mental illness looks like and feels like from the inside out.

The wonderfully talented and deep therapist is Dr. Frieda-Fromm Reichman, the wife of Dr. Eric Fromm who that beautiful book called, “The Art of Loving.”

At any rate, it’s clear that, throughout the therapy process, one of Dr. Reichman’s primary goals is to help shut the doors of escape for young Hannah.  And she does this primarily by simply talking about reality in all the many ways it can come at us.

Hannah’s tendency, especially when things get a little tough inside——her tendency is to what to escape into fantasy and illusion, if not downright delusion.

It is a very difficult journey.

After a year or so of therapy, during which Hannah wanted to quit on several occasions, Hannah is coming to some kind of climax of forces within her.

Dr. Reichman is exquisitely sensitive to this inner movement in her patient and knows just when to speak and what to say when she does speak.

At one point, during one of their therapy sessions, when Hannah’s inner worlds are very close to colliding and Hannah is scared to death and doing internal mental maneuvers in order to run away, Dr. Reichman says, in no uncertain terms to Hannah, “No, Hannah; STOP. That is wrong. You must not do that.”

Thirty six hours later, and for the first time in Hannah life, there is an out loud EXPLOSION of anger and rage inside her that makes the psych ward nurse’s hair stand on end.  There is a bone chilling depth of dark anger that, after 18 months of therapy, finally breaks lose into the light of day.

After this event, all the many disturbing, delusional characters in Hannah’s head become much less real and much less active in her mental life.

Dr. Reichman was not afraid to call a spade a spade and confront Hannah.  But, even though she did that, she was not judgmental!

It seems that there comes a time when we just simply have to call a halt to what is wrong or evil.  It may awkward or difficult, but it is sometimes practical, helpful and very spiritual.

THAT ACT OF DISCERNMENT AND JUDGMENT THAT AFTERNOON WAS VERY HELPFUL AND CREATIVE FOR THAT WOMAN.

It’s what she actually needed at that time,

It was JUDGMENT, NOT warm expressions of love, but real judgment that was, in fact, helpful, orienting, constructive.

Not completely pleasant, to be sure, but very helpful, nonetheless.

Now here’s the query: What is it that separates true judgement from the other, very destructive experience, that we’ve all had, or done ourselves———THE VERY DESTRUCTIVE ACT OF BEING JUDGMENTAL?

It seems to me that this is a difficult, but extremely important, subject for all of us on our spiritual journey, for we often seem to ere in one of two ways!!

We either end up being judgmental,

or we tend,

especially these days in our culture where anything goes,

or we end up throwing out all judgment for fear of EVER APPEARING judgmental—–a kind of “hear no evil, see no evil” attitude.

What, then, IS righteous judgment, as the Bible calls it, and how does it differ from that very negative judgmentalness we’ve all, at one time or another, had shot at us like an arrow in the heart,

and that is so graphically portrayed often in Scripture by the Pharisees?

MY CONCERN HERE IS THAT WE NOT LOOSE OUR ABILITY TO JUDGE, TO DISCERN CLEANLY AND CLEARLY, BUT TO DO SO IN SUCH A WAY THAT, AT THE SAME TIME, WE ARE NOT BEING JUDGMENTAL.

Getting these two separated from each other can be a difficult spiritual problem for some, but one of immense spiritual importance.

And in the Scriptures it’s always amazed and delighted me how BEAUTIFULLYYYYYYYYYYY the Lord does it……….over and over again.

He saw soooooooo much.

He was not like some idealists who can’t put their pants on right.  Nor was He a sloppy sentimentalist.

But, oh my,,,,,,,,,,,,,,how,he stood for open eyes and warmth and softness in the human heart. These things got him into all kinds of trouble!!!!!!!!!  Remember how warm and un-condemning he was with the woman caught in adultery.

Now I’m sure there are many “ins” and “outs” to this whole subject of true judgment verses being judgmental, but I’d like to try and cut through some of them to, perhaps, the core of the matter.

The core, it seems to me,

the thing that makes all the difference,

and that is so different in one than in the other, is OUR INTERNAL STATE—–the feelings and affections we have with one stance verses the other.

THAT IS, WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON INSIDE US AT THE TIME;

WHAT OUR OVER-ALL INTENTIONS ARE;

AND MOST ESPECIALLY HOW WE, IN FACT, FEEL INSIDE.

Judgmentalism, as I’ve experienced it in myself,

is really a very self-centered state of chronic or current anger, and a great deal of fear as well———-and a surprising lack of love in me during those times.

In judgmentalism, the intent, conscious or not, is to shame and to blame, to create fear and distance between me and the other person, if not to create downright pain in the other person——to reject and to hurt, and probably to control and dominate.

Sound like a little bit of hell is in there?  LOL

What’s really interesting about that is how truly Godless that is because, quite simply, both of us are moving away from God.  Indeed, God never condemns anyone.

We can’t condemn and judge and be in a good relationship to God.

Within judgmentalism there is a serious attempt to put destructive distance between God and the other person, and between God and ourselves.

Now: true judgment, on the other hand,

no matter how vigorous or intense it may appear outwardly,

comes, ultimately, from a profoundly different place in us.

It originates, actually, from a very soft, but critically important, FELT connection to

an act that moves from the perception of the right relation between God and myself and others,

an intention, conscious or not, that burns quietly God, and is therefore, fundamentally, an act of warmth and caring, even if it can seem otherwise on the surface,for the other person to have a loving, real connection to the Lord.

That’s the vertical, spiritual dimension of true judgment———the internal purpose and intent of it.

At the interpersonal level, true judgment in us comes from a place of real, felt caring and warmth for the other person or persons.  A place of discernment and wisdom, and a place of kindness and real love————–even though it might, on occasion, sound and feel very tough at times,,,,,,,,,,,as in tough love.

These two inner worlds of true judgment, and being judgmental, are as different from each other as heaven and hell, EVEN THOUGH, OUTWARDLY, they can appear the same!!!!!

Inwardly, they are, in fact, OPPOSITES.

(slight pause).

There is a final dimension to all of this that I would like to mention, and that is that, to be discerning without being judgmental, what we’re really talking about here is our ability to love in the presence of real evil——whether in ourselves or in each other,

and to do so in a

WHOLESOME,

BALANCED,

YET CLEAR EYED kind of way.

Discernment and true judgment desires connection and restoration with the other person…….it’s a REACHING outtttttttttttttttt, to touch and to heal,,,,,,,,,and that softness of energy is sooooooooo obvious.

As I’ve said, in Scripture it’s the story of the woman caught in adultery and how the Lord was with her—-straight, yet compassionate and warm.  His last quiet words to her were: go and sin no more.

As I’ve shared before here: Howard’s NDE experience: He spent hours in discussion with the really good, wise angels.  Feeling the depth and real caring of their love.  And at one point he began to speak of his own evil.  He had not been a particularly loving person.  He was self-serving.  Unloving.  His giving always had strings on it, etc.

What was their response to him?

They said with great feeling and clear-sightedness, knowing full well the truthfulness of what he had just told them about himself,

they said, with great compassion and empathy:”we know.”

They knew.

They could discern and see, but they did not reject him.

(pause)

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath.  Judgmentalism is clearly an act of aggressiveness and anger and fear: it comes from hell.

Genuine judgment, however, although perhaps a bit painful at times, is PROFOUNDLY different indeed and it can take great energy to do it well.

Let’s not only keep real judgment and discernment, without being judgmental or moralistic, but let’s also remain open to God’s judgment for ourselves!!

We needn’t fear it.  It is trying to tell us the truth but without condemning us.

(pause)

When the concentration camps were opened at the end of WWII one of the most frequent responses was: “this is evil.”

Losing true judgment began the build up that resulted in those camps!

It turns out that true judgment, not judgmentalism, is a function of real love. Without true judgment there is no love, no matter how sweet or soft or lovely we might appear on the outside.

The challenge is to judge in such a way that it helps people get closer to God.

And when that happens,

as a result of my discernment and connection to you,

if I am truly discerning and not being judgmental, you should come away, not only feeling closer to God, but to who you truly are as well!

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink.