Don’t Rush to Judgment, But Don’t Rush to Apathy Either

Angela Chininin Buele

How often are we rightly told not to rush to judgment?  I know I need to be told this a lot.  I need to be told not to assign motive (usually of malice or mockery) to the words or actions of others.  I need to be warned not to assign consequences to the child who is the obvious “usual suspect” in a sibling squabble before I have heard all sides of the story.  I also need to be reminded that giving an internet review that raves in either extreme after just one or two encounters with the service of an establishment might show more emotion than discernment.

There are times when judgment is required to determine if John Doe is a thief.  We must use information to make such a judgment.  In an ideal situation, we would have complete and accurate information for this process.  This side of eternity, however, we don’t always have that much information or time.  If you are looking for a babysitter for your young children, and one candidate seems to be a little too eager to show physical affection, you would be wise to avoid hiring the person on the spot.  There is too much on the line to take such a risk. Now, to call John Doe a sexual molester based on perception alone is a different matter.  More data is needed.

Taking steps to protect your family and yourself against theft or sexual abuse necessarily assume that it has been judged that theft and sexual abuse are not morally good.

We are told quite plainly now, Don’t judge me or anyone else.  I think where this little quip goes most terribly wrong is that it fails to differentiate between determining that John Doe is a thief and judging that theft is not morally good.  This has taken us to a Zero Tolerance Judgment principle for which only some judgments qualify while others don’t.  For example, it is not socially acceptable to state that homosexuality is immoral, but it is acceptable to say that people who don’t affirm homosexuality are immoral.  Both are judgments.  It is also not socially acceptable to pass laws that would require pregnant women to view an ultrasound of their child before aborting, but it is socially acceptable to require elementary school children to be taught how to engage in sexual expression.

Proper judgment requires discernment, applied wisdom, and understanding.  The road of evading such judgment leads to ­­the darkness of apathy.  If the goal is for each person to do whatever feels good to him or her, there is no obvious place to draw moral boundaries. People are forced to eventually check out and not get upset with anything or try to change the way things are because whatever feels right is what is right.  Nobody cares.  You see, what seems to escape most of us is that you have to care about something to judge it.  You have to want to see your loved one safe so you evaluate the situations and surroundings that affect them to help advise and offer assistance.  Apathy is the lack of concern.  When you lack concern, you will not love or care for anyone.  There is no sacrificial rescue option when you are going down the apathetic, just-looking-out-for-yourself path.

Key Question: Why can’t there be a happy middle between absolute truth and total anarchy?

Unshakable Truth:  “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’” ( 1 Samuel 16:7).

Time and time again foolish people choose foolish kings.  They choose leaders because of the way they look, the way they talk, the way they dress, the jobs they’ve had, the people they know, the campaign promises they make, or their profound passion to see the competitor NOT get elected.  Samuel’s job was to override the feel good choice for king – the one people would like and want; the easy choice, and trust the Lord’s right discernment of the heart of man.  So it’s God’s place to see and judge the heart, but His people are to carry out appropriate actions to point others away from the peril of darkness and toward Light.

The Real Choice: The stove is hot, the friend is drunk, and the gun is loaded.  Do you give unsolicited advice to see someone dodge disaster or do you keep calm and carry on, figuring that others are in charge of their own matters?