Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Read Part 3
A judgment is a conclusion with the intent to categorize or assess someone. And it all comes back to intent. When we deem people “less than” us, it begs the question: Why are we trying to make ourselves feel stronger and/or better? But it goes both ways because we judge ourselves in the process. When we estimate people as “more than” us, we judge ourselves too harshly. Two themes emerge: Shame and Glory.
Glory is not hard to define, though harder to accept. In Psalm 8, David says,
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
I love the word “Yet” to begin verse 5. Dr. Thomas Constable notes that the Hebrew word translated “man” is enosh, which elsewhere describes man as a weak mortal being. Yet weak and limited as we are, God has molded us with a reflecting glory and honor that puts us just below the immortal. Just as the Sistine Chapel continues to bring Michelangelo glory, so too you reflect the glory of God.
When I say shame, think limitation. Shame is a feeling of sincere humility. Most often people operate in a false sense of humility: they shrink or minimize themselves so as to appear humble. Genuine humility is standing as tall as you can against something much taller. Unhealthy shame has the power to sink us like the Titanic’s anchor tied to a rowboat. But to excel or perform at our highest function and see that we are limited creatures generates a healthy sense of shame. Just this week, my 2-year old daughters asked me for the moon, literally. They begged me to touch the moon and stars, a kite, and a “big” pelican. I stretched my arm out with grunts and groans so they could see my limitation. The crutch is this: In our desire for glory we refuse to accept our own shame. But owning our shame opens our eyes to glimpse the glory God has given us.
When we cannot accept our limitations or the nature of how God has created us, our jealously turns venomous. And our judgments bite like fangs.
We can no more stop jealous urges than we can our desire to breathe. But we can get to know the DNA of the enemy within. While there are universal strengths or traits we’d all like to possess, like power or comfort, the narrative attached to our motives is always personal in nature. It becomes essential to know the story of your heart in your own reflection. How else will you process your judgment of others? When I read other blogs or books, half of me enjoys good writing and insight for their own sake. The other half of me toils while my ego compares my own words with another’s. Deep down in the cave that you never see, I hide away the belief that my words do not matter. There’s a story there. There always is. Throughout my life I’ve learned to survive with silence. When I go spelunking in the murk and muck of my heart I find the fear that the gifts of others will diminish my own glory. So judgments are the ammunition with which I defend my God-given splendor.
More thoughts on shame and glory to come; a couple of questions first:
What unhealthy shame do you harbor that would cause you to judge others rather than chase dreams? And what glory do you aspire toward that would give you opportunity to embrace your shame? When we actively move toward our dreams or move into our fear, our judgments become as significant as flies on the rear end of a thoroughbred.