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Before You Pass Judgment… By Abimbola Abatta

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“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37 NLT)

I used to be very judgmental. I would crucify people in my heart, claiming that I am better than they are. I thought I was a “saint”, but I wasn’t!

So I asked myself: why do we condemn and judge people when we are not better than they are? Is there a philosophy or theory behind it?

In my own view, I think it’s because we have been conditioned by certain beliefs, customs, or opinions to look down on people. I have tried my best to consciously desist from that. But at times, even if I don’t show it or say it, my heart condemns people. Although whenever I do that, I always dismiss the thoughts with: “Abimbola, you are not a saint. Don’t judge people.”

Apart from that, we are naturally selfish. We have a particular notion of what people should look like and how they should behave. But if they defy that expectation, we condemn them. We crucify them and paint them with wonderful colours of denunciation.

Since when, for instance, does wearing cosmetics connote prostitution? How about single mothers whom some of us tag wayward? If a lady has a male friend, she’s tagged a “dog”. We use numerous words to describe people simply because they don’t conform to our own reality. Nowadays, if you are on dreadlocks, or you tint your hair, you may be labelled a “yahoo yahoo” or “bad child”.

If a lady is chubby, some will bring the news that she can’t “get” a husband. Who says you can’t get married at forty and have a child at forty? You call your fellow human a witch because she has been barren for years. Is she the giver of children? Your mate from secondary school has not stepped up his academic qualifications, and you call him “unserious”. Do you know his many struggles?

In the words of my very good friend, Chizi Daniels, “We pass judgements because people fail to fit in the box we want them. We expect them to conform to our own mental belief. We want them to act in a certain way, especially our way of thinking. But we need a level of reservations on certain matters.”

Take a look at the last sentence: we all need a level of reservations on certain matters. You don’t have to pass comments on every one. Your opinion is not always essential. At times, it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself. I am not insensitive to the fact that only a few can pass this test, but we can consciously desist from condemning people.

Before you pass judgements, ask this question: “Am I perfect?” If you are one hundred percent perfect, great! Go ahead and enjoy your role as a self-assigned judge.

There is a particular biblical story that always fascinates me. The Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to Jesus, expecting Jesus to condemn her to death by stone immediately. However, Jesus shocked them to silence. He said, “Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” See shocker! I imagined how embarrassed the accusers must have felt. Their guilty conscience haunted them, and they dared not lay a finger of condemnation.

Now, this is not a license to continue to grope in sin. Jesus commanded the adulterous woman to relinquish her sinful life. The lesson here is this: don’t judge people. Before you crucify people because of their flaws, have you checked yours? Many of us have our foibles staring at us, yet we act as if we’ve got none.

I remember when I used to tag some people “ugly”. Looking back at that period, I realised how silly it was. How can I “uglify” what God has declared wonderful? Before you pass judgment on people, think about the effect of your words and actions. One word, look, or gesture of condemnation can send the target into the realm of depression and cessation.

As you have witnessed the first day of the elegant ember month, remember to bake your thoughts and words in the oven of genuine love.

© Abimbola F. Abatta
Email: abimbola.abatta@gmail.com

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