Judgment vs. Discernment
Have you ever observed a person or situation and immediately got the sense that something was not quite right, that what you were witnessing was just plain wrong? These situations made you uncomfortable and uneasy which in turn made you critical and unhappy. You have now decided that his or her actions must be wrong and you right. They have to be wrong, why else would you be so miserable? Did you recognize that at this point you are in full-blown critical judgment of them and their actions!
It is from this state of critical judgment that I inflict pain upon others and myself. Albeit, not intentionally, but pain, nevertheless. I can hear what I am telling myself that causes the pain. I can even convince myself that I am right and the other person or persons are wrong. I can go about believing it. I can even become stubborn and unwilling to see things another way. Does this sound familiar? What do you do next?
For me, pain is a great motivator and it assists me to move off the soapbox and onto the truth of the matter. Therefore, after several days of self-inflected pain, I prayed!
God, I pray that you allow me to forgive, and wholly and fully understand where I hold judgment and how to release it. I want nothing, but to do Your will this day. Guard my heart from troubles and anxiety. Give me peace. Give me hope in myself and in others. Allow me to love unconditionally and without regard. Teach me and give me wisdom, when to remain silent, and when to speak your words. I place Your Will above all else today.
As I prayed this earnest prayer, the answer I heard was not what I expected. I heard, “Allow judgment to teach you and discernment to impart her Wisdom.”
I have witnessed many behaviors exhibited by those that I revere, which would stand to test my beliefs. These behaviors made me question certain aspects of what I was taught, by these past mentors and spiritual leaders. I knew I was in judgment’s grasp, but because these people are so important to me, I became very willing to question and receive my answers of God. It was then that I began to see and understand why this had showed up in my life at this point and time.
I have often heard said, “that the lesson shows-up when the student is ready.” I must open my heart and want to come to know, otherwise learning will not take place, only pain and loss of peace will show up from such a critical mind-set. As A Course in Miracles states, “No evidence will convince you of the truth of what you do not want.” I must stand ready to learn, to navigate my way through the pain and doubt that I caused others and possibly myself by standing on right opinions and making another wrong.
Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
(Matthew 7:1-2 KJV)
I know from past experiences, that when I feel this type of pain, I am out of the will of God. This pain causes a loss of peace and serves to distance me from God. This is when I decided to follow my instructions and allow this judgment to teach me. I was ready to receive. I was ready to learn and grow spiritually. I was ready to release the pain and feel the freedom that only comes from letting go of the self-imposed pain and doubt that I was experiencing. I wanted to know the wisdom that discernment had to offer. I hoped to gain a greater understanding than the one I held at the present time. I wanted to have a deeper understanding of what it means to discern, as opposed to holding onto hypocritical judgment.
I continued to pray in hopes of finding spiritual truth. I wanted to return to the peace that abides when I am in a state of unconditional love. I have experiential knowledge of the tremendous release and deep serenity that comes from having no judgment and unconditionally loving another. I have reached this level of unconditional love many times in my life. However, since I am human, I also know I cannot stay in a constant state of unconditional love, but I can strive to do so. This is what Jesus requires of us.
“The host of God has called to you, and you have heard. Never again you will you be wholly willing not to listen.”
-A Course in Miracles
There was one thing, of which I was certain. You cannot unlearn what God has taught you. You cannot unknown something that is so deeply rooted as ‘the truth” that comes from God. I know from experience that an attempt at disconnecting myself from this level of knowing will cause me great pain on deep levels. I noticed in me a deep abiding understanding, in my very soul of those truths of which I had no doubt, the ones that I had worked so hard to obtain. I noticed what was not shaken, through this process, were my core beliefs. These are the beliefs that I have come to know as spiritual truths. These experiences are mine and without doubt are what I lean upon for understanding and to ground me to my source of well-being, which is God. These are the spiritual truths that I have come to know and are beyond human teaching. This truth is what I was seeking.
What I found as I navigated through this process is that I needed to; first recognize judgment as judgment and not a biblical truth. Secondly, from here, it will teach me. I begin to really noticed the judgment. I allowed it. I allowed it to teach me what critical opinions that I hold over another and ultimately over myself. If I allow, it will teach me the very thing that holds me back from loving another and ultimately loving myself. When I hold judgment over another, I am in the state of fear and not Love. Love is the state where all discernment and truth resides; The Love of God.
Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out to thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:5 KJV)
Judge not, this is easier said than done. Being human, I hold very strong opinions of right and wrong. It has taken me many years to notice the pain my judgments cause me, because I was too busy blaming and judging the other person. Beliefs and opinions are usually deeply rooted in an old belief system that no longer serves the higher good. This is why I needed to turn to God for help in seeing more clearly and use discernment instead of judgment. I became willing to take the beam out of my own eye in order to be a source of help to myself and hopefully another.
I decided to follow what Jesus taught. He commanded that we use discernment and condemned hypocritical judgment that focuses on the faults of others while excusing our own faults. The Bible plainly states, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God… (1 John 4:1 KJV). Discernment is a critical characteristic to have in order to hold another innocent and without blame, all the while, knowing his or her behavior is not of God. From here, it will now be possible to find a deeper understanding of what judgment feels like and what discernment has to offer.
I knew this was a tall order and one that should not be taken lightly. It was much too big to take on by myself. I have tried to solve problems on my own and I have been unsuccessful. Since I know that I have never given any problem to God that He has not solved for me, nor will I ever, because that is impossible, I decided to hand this one over, as well. Once more, I trusted in The Creator for guidance and this is what I learned.
I learned that discernment is the ability to think biblically about all areas of life. It is crucial to an uncompromising life. The discernment that God has provided for in His precious truth, serves humanity well. Without it, we are at risk of being “…tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie speaking in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love…. (Ephesians 4:14-15 KJV). So, it is not only a good idea, but much needed to look out and see that which is unlike God, and choose not to be a part of it, but all the while withholding judgment and loving the person, not the mistake.
I learned that we tend to make the person bad or good when we judge, discernment allows for the person to be wrong in their actions, but innocent in that we hold them as one of God’s children, learning, growing and coming to know in their own time and in God’s time not ours. Once we have judged another we have placed ourselves in the position of knowing best for them and placed ourselves as right, knowing more than the Creator does. A Course in Miracles puts it this way, “But also that whenever you listened to His interpretation the results have brought you joy. Would you prefer the results of your own interpretation, considering honestly, what they have been? God wills you better.” The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5 KJV). Have faith in Him who has faith in you.
I learned that we consider some judgments as small and harmless, but all judgment is harmful and detrimental to others and us. There are no small judgments only those that would distance us from the other person and from the love of God. A separation from the Love of God is a painful and lonely place to be. When we use discernment, we get a perception in the absence of judgment and obtain spiritual direction and understanding. What this means is that we can look upon another or a situation and discern whether it is of God or not withholding judgment on the person, separate from the action. It is from this place of unconditional love that we can offer another love and compassion just as God only offers love and mercy.
I also learned that when we realize that we have been judgmental of another, it is crucial that we not be judgmental of ourselves for judging another. Beating ourselves up after we have noticed that we are in judgment does not serve our higher good nor does it get us through the process more quickly, in fact, it can serve to keep us “stuck.” Jesus warned that those who use a harsh standard of judgment when evaluating others then that same harsh measure is what would be used to judge us, as in self-judgment.
I learned that we must forgive ourselves for judging another before we can unconditionally forgive, and love another. Forgiveness is the key to our happiness. Forgiveness of oneself and another gives way for love to spread its wings in peace and soar above the turmoil of the world. It gives hope and releases the pain. Forgiveness brings light and removes doubt. Forgiveness brings love instead of fear, and strength replaces weakness of the Spirit. It brings rest instead of impatience. Forgiveness sees mistakes not sin. How do we learn to forgive? “Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven.”
Turn to the One who cannot sin, to the ultimate teacher. Through Him, we learn how to forgive the self and another and it is from here we are able to see clearly, love unconditionally, and return to the state of grace….return to Love and walk there in!