The social media grapevine flaunts our flaws, allowing those who are quick to judge and criticize to have a heyday. The effects are far-reaching and can cripple someone’s self-esteem and mental health. Instead of looking for where others might be falling short, doesn’t it seem like a healthier approach to seek charity? To get back to the basic principles of recognizing the good and admirable within those around us.
It’s not hard for most of us to think of a time when we were judged or regarded cruelly. For years I felt humiliated for how I was treated in 6th grade. I was judged, criticized, and labeled because I was awkward and different. A group of boys made it their primary purpose to torment me throughout the school year.
Last year one of those boys (who now has a daughter of his own) found me on Facebook and sent a private note of apology. I was touched but also shocked that over 40 years later, one of them would reach out to try to make things right.
None of us are perfect. Judgemental thoughts and hurtful actions are bound to happen. If you’re anything like me, you might be able to relate to being on either end of the judgment scope. I may have had cruel memories from the receiving side of criticism, but I’ve also had my fair share of moments where I was the one gauging the worth of another. The ongoing lesson I’m learning is that it’s not my place to judge someone else’s choices any more than I ever deserved to be criticized.
Seeking charity over judgment is a Christlike skill that takes a lifetime to learn. It requires us to “put off the natural man” and train ourselves to see everyone as children of God with infinite worth and potential.
“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other when we don’t judge or categorize someone else when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.”—Marvin J. Ashton, “The Tongue is a Sharp Sword.”
I realize this is much easier said than done. Like a simmering pot of water, sometimes that over-critical thought is the first to break the surface. While it might seem impossible to control those initial thoughts, we can choose what comes next—our “second thought.”
Second Thought Theory
Ironically, I learned about the “second thought” theory online. It is when you choose to reframe an initial thought to something more Christlike and allow that reframed reaction to take hold in your heart.
I can change my thinking. Instead of holding on to the thought, “That dress isn’t very flattering on her,” I can recognize the harshness with which I am judging a situation I know nothing about. My second thought could be, “What others choose to wear is none of my business. Her worth is inherent as a child of God.”
“Are there people in your path who you have felt inclined to judge? If so, remember that these are valuable opportunities for us to practice loving as the Savior loves.”—Annette Dennis “His Yoke is Easy and His Burden is Light”
Seeking a less-judgmental way of thinking will improve our relationship with others. Our hearts will be filled with charity as we allow Christ to give us eyes to see those around us as He does.