Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.
Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thank you so much for listening today. I want to talk to you about judging other people and all the missed opportunities that can result when we judge.
We're all guilty of judging others. However, it's important to underscore that there is a placement for judgment in our society. In order for our society to be civilized, we must have laws and rules and standards. Those are necessary to function without chaos. Judgments must be made legislatively and politically, just to name a few areas. [01:00.0]
I'm not talking about that kind of judgment. I'm talking about judging others in a way that perhaps might elevate us while lowering another in our minds. The very first lesson I learned from my father, the wisest man I've ever met in my life, a third-grade dropout is this lesson? “Son, don't judge.”
I can hear my father's words ringing in my heart with a piercing familiarity. I can hear him saying, Son, as a cook on a training ship, I've been all over the world. I've seen good and bad in every shape and size and color. And then I can hear him say this: it's difficult to impact somebody when you're busy judging them.
I remember being a child in elementary school and I used to talk a lot and I would often misbehave, and I remember one particular teacher who saw something, saw some potential. She made a choice not to judge me based on my behavior. [02:06.0]
Now, I still had to pay the consequences. I still had to stay after school, but after school, instead of some long lecture or writing, “I will not talk in class” on the blackboard a hundred times, my teacher said, “It's obvious Ricky, that you have a gift and I'm going to set some parameters. I'm going to teach you when it's appropriate to exercise that gift,” and then she handed me a book and said, “In the meantime, I want you to enjoy reading a couple of chapters of this book and then you may go home, right?”
She handed me Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary—Henry Huggins was the very first book that Beverly Cleary, the famed children's author, published back in 1950—and immediately I fell in love with reading. What's my point? A teacher who chose not to judge, but to encourage, really planted some powerful seeds that today have produced a person who absolutely loves reading. [03:10.7]
What's my point? The good that can come from withholding judgment is seismic. If ever there was a time in my lifetime when we needed less judgment, that time is right now. A pandemic finds us isolated with COVID fatigue. There is political unrest at every level of politics and there is racial division and strife all throughout our land. This convergence of forces is creating significant impacts, not only on our physical health, but our mental health as well.
Recently, I was among those who spoke at a national conference on the church and mental health. This conference was hosted by my friend, Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He began the event by stating, quote, “We're not facing a mental health crisis, but a mental health disaster.” [04:14.0]
I mean, look around. All the signs are present as we hear about the results of mental health issues every single day. In fact, friends, over the last month, we've had two gruesome murder cases in our Dallas suburb where we live, both involve children killing parents and their siblings. A police sergeant investigating both cases said on the news, quote, “Each murder has its own set of circumstances, but some of the similarities are helplessness and hopelessness.”
Ours is a climate of helplessness and hopelessness. This is what people are feeling and, friends, I want to tell you something as clearly as I can—now is not the time for judgment. We need help, not condemnation. We need hope, not judgment. [05:12.2]
I want to share a simple passage out of the Holy Scripture, a passage that reveals a profound principle. In Matthew 8, a leper appears before Jesus and asks, “Lord, if you were willing, make me clean.” Chapter 8:3. Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him saying, “I am willing. Be cleansed,” and immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
You know what overwhelms me is what Jesus did not say. Jesus did not say, You're different from me. Don't want to get involved.
Jesus did not say, I'm sorry, you're not my kind of people. As a matter of fact, my touch is reserved only for certain folks.
Jesus did not say, You are beneath me. There is no reason whatsoever for us to ever interact. [06:10.2]
In fact, Jesus did not say anything at first. The Bible says he stretched out his hand and touched the man. Back in biblical days, if you were a leper, you were probably disfigured. Your skin had lost its color, your hair fallen out. You were undoubtedly missing limbs. You had an unpleasant odor. You didn't smell very good. You never got near a leper.
As a matter of fact, on the streets, a leper was required to scream, “Unclean. Unclean.” You weren't even perceived as human. People were uncomfortable by your site. Everywhere you went, you saw looks of disgust. You are not welcomed anywhere. You were a human misfit and a social outcast. You were the perfect picture of humiliation and zero self-worth. [07:12.4]
And what happened? Jesus touched the man. It was likely the first touch this man had in years.
Friends, I see some similarities between attitudes reserved and reflected toward lepers and attitudes that many of us have today reserved for people who are different from us. Is it possible, just possible, that our judgmental attitude creates barriers between us and those who are different from us? Oh, we enjoy interacting with people who are similar. But what about those who are different, who look differently, who vote differently, who have different opinions? [08:04.4]
It's one thing to talk unity. It's another thing to challenge a change of heart. I really believe that the one thing missing in society today, the thing missing in many of our homes today, missing in our communities today, dare I say, missing in our places of worship today is the absence of non-judgment. Instead, what do we hear? We hear the presence of judgment screaming, Different is unclean. Different is unclean.
The result? Instead of meeting needs, we practice avoidance. Instead of offering hope and help, we withhold our touch. Instead of encouraging conversation, we shout, Unclean. Jesus touched the man. [09:10.0]
Do you know how easy it is to touch another human being with our words, with words that lift up, with words that encourage? Do you know how easy it is to touch another human being with our smile, with offering a friendly countenance toward another, by going out of our way to be a blessing to someone else? I just keep seeing in my mind the picture of a person that is so despicable and so disgusting to everyone else, and Jesus teaches a principle, he touched the man.
Friends, let me make this abundantly clear. A society must have laws. We must have rules. We must have standards. In order to function, judgments must be made. This is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a judgmental attitude that says different or contrary from my way is the wrong way. Friends, that is unhealthy. That does not promote unity. That does not promote diversity of thought. [10:13.0]
Whenever we think, different from my way is the wrong way, different from my view is the wrong view, it might compel us to shout, Unclean. You're unclean. Oh my. I think about parents who challenged me not to judge. I think about an elementary school teacher who did not judge me and I am left with one conclusion—the good that can come from withholding judgment is seismic.
Reflect on this for a few minutes today, friends. I firmly believe that despite the hopelessness of our day, we all can do something this day to create more unity. May it begin by choosing not to have a judgmental attitude. [11:10.0]
That's going to do it for this episode, friends. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick, asking you the most important question I can ask, how you livin’?
Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.
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