Seasonal Judgment

Ask a person to describe a fruit tree during each of the four different seasons and you’ll receive four very different answers. In winter, a barren tree exists. In spring, the tree will have leaves and colorful blossoms. In summer, a tree full of fruit is seen. And, in autumn, the tree is fading in color and its leaves are falling. If a person is asked to describe the tree at a certain time of the year, he or she will describe it based on its current condition; however, that description, although accurate at the time, is not the whole story. The tree changes through the different seasons and the person would have to be patient in order to see the tree in all its seasons and capture a complete description. 

Many times, the same concept can be applied to how we judge people in times of conflict. What we may describe at any given point may be an accurate description, but may not reflect the whole story. Both circumstances and people change. 

The specific situations in which people find themselves often influence their behaviors in other areas of their lives. For example, conflict or trouble at work may overflow into one’s private and home life. Perhaps we tend to make judgments too quickly, reacting or overreacting in ways that aren’t based on the big picture, but rather the “season” we may encounter in another’s life experiences. 

Sure, some of our interactions with people require snap judgments. But, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that most do not. We would do well in these instances to withhold judgment until we gain a fuller understanding of what is really going on.

In the Bible, in Matthew 7:1-2 we read; Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. It seems clear here that Christ-followers are to be cautious, patient and forgiving when it comes to judgment. How we judge others will determine how we will be judged.

Think about your own condition for a minute. If you are like me, I’m sure you’ve found yourself in situations where you have not been at your best, and have sinned in word or action and someone has called you to account, based on what you have done or said. Completely understandable! But, it’s likely that we do not want others to judge us based solely on one incident.

Nevertheless, may we be people who are careful in judgment, patient, and forgiving, giving others plenty of grace when they—like so often we— don’t measure up to how we ought to live. Let’s always look to gain a better understanding of what might lie underneath the surface when we experience conflicts with others.

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