We hear that a lot from people.
“Don’t be judging me!” They cry. Mostly, they cry from a guilty conscience. Busted, in other words.
We get lectured by people who admonish us with Jesus’ words, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” He was referring to our hypocrisy in judging the sins of others while being guilty of the same sins, or worse. He was not referring to our judicious use of judgment. In fact, it is foolish of us to not use our judgment to assess people or situations. We judge people and their actions all the time, and rightly so.
“Me and Darrell Wayne want to use your pickup truck for a while,” Eugene said to Eustace.
“You and Darrell Wayne have been drunk for three days,” said Eustace.
Eugene bristled at that. “Why are you always judging me?”
“I get to decide who uses my pickup truck, and my better judgment is telling me that it wouldn’t be wise for me, my pickup truck, you, nor the public at large to turn you loose in a 4,000 pound unguided missile,” Eustace declared, adding, “Drunk as you are.”
“You’re always calling me a drunk,” shouted Eugene.
“You’re always drunk,” shouted Eustace back.
“See, there you go judging me again. I wasn’t drunk last week,” he said.
“Last week you didn’t have any money,” replied Eustace.
“And you wouldn’t lend me none, neither,” said a petulant Eugene.
“I reckoned you wouldn’t pay me back. You never pay me back.”
“Judge. Judge. Judge. All you do is judge people. That’s a sin, you know,” chided Eugene in sort of a judgmental tone, perhaps guilty of a bit of judgment himself.
Eustace thought about this for minute. He detested being called judgmental, but some where along the way, one’s experience must enable one to render a judgment, a competent judgment, a prudent judgment, on the character and predictable behavior of others. Even chickens can learn which key to peck to get a piece of cracked corn to come sliding down the chute, and chickens have never been known for being smart, or judgmental. Maybe though, as they retreat when they see you approaching with a meat cleaver in your hand, after having heard the phrase “Chicken and Dumplings”, they display some good judgment, at least enough judgment to know they need to outrun the slowest chicken, having judged your intentions, and appetite.
“Let me re-direct my judgment, then,” said Eustace. “I would be stupid to let y’all use my pickup truck. And let me add irresponsible to that, too. So I won’t do it. There, I’ve only judged myself, not you.”
“But you implied that we’re stupid,” said Eugene, raising his voice again, “and that’s judging.” Darrell Wayne was too inebriated to even be aware of the conversation and its import. He only knew that they needed to get some more beer.
“You are stupid if you think you’re going to borrow my truck. You’re even more stupid for thinking I’m stupid enough to let you take it,” reasoned Eustace.
“See judging again!”
It didn’t work this time. Eustace had reached a verdict and was now actually rendering a judgment. He said, “I’m judging that you need a job so you can get your own truck, that way you can fetch beer anytime you can afford to put gas in it and the price of cheap beer. Being able to render that judgment is the benefit of being sober, taking note of what I see clearly in front of me, and of owning my own pickup truck.”
“Judge Eustace. That’s what I’m going to call you from now own. Judge Eustace.”
Eustace thought of the irony of that. Ever, the judge’s accuser is being judgmental.
Thank goodness for Eustace’s good judgment. Had he exercised poor judgment, we might have met Eugene and Darrell Wayne face to face, abruptly, deadly.
If you’ve got judgment, I hope it’s good judgment. I hope you use it liberally, wisely, and most of all…judiciously.
©2018 Mississippi Chris Sharp