What Is the Difference Between Judging and Being Judgmental?

What Is the Difference Between Judging and Being Judgmental?


What is the difference between judging and being judgmental?

There is a major difference between judging and being judgmental and I think it is important for more people to begin using their skill of judging.

Each day of our lives we are put in a position to which we must judge.  Webster’s Dictionary defines judging as: to form an opinion or conclude about or assess.  We meet new people and we must judge whether or not the person is safe; are they going to harm me?  We must judge people if for no other reason than to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

I have heard many people exclaim “judging is bad!”.  I completely disagree.  It is my belief that judging is necessary and is a skill which needs to be honed and developed.  If more people used their skill of judging they might find themselves involved in fewer bad situations.

“Don’t judge” is terrible advice and is a phrase that is so overused today that people begin to open themselves up to whatever or whomever happens down the trail.  The more appropriate phrase should be “Don’t be judgmental”.  Being judgmental infers a level of judging people from a moral standpoint or standing in a place of superiority while making said moral or critical disparagement.

It is being judgmental that we must avoid, not judging.  I like to think of judging as a way of comparing others to what we expect of good humans to keep ourselves safe and surrounded by those we can trust and those who will help us better ourselves.

Being judgmental is standing on one’s high horse while looking down on others while displaying overly-critical points-of-view or opinions.

For instance, I meet new people every day in my line of work.  On occasion I’ll meet a person and my sensors go off.  For some reason the person just doesn’t seem trustworthy.  I immediately think to myself to keep this person at arm’s length until I get a better feel for why my “don’t trust” alarms are ringing.   I am comparing them to my experiences in life and how I’ve learned people should act, respond and speak.  In this way judging is a form of discernment; a way for me to filter others and protect myself in the short-term until I get a better sense of the situation or person.

On the other hand, I meet the same person and they light up a cigarette.  As I’m standing there I just cannot believe this person would smoke and my internal conversation goes something like this…

“Don’t they know how bad smoking is for their body?  How intelligent could this person be to continue to smoke knowing they are killing themselves?  I’ll bet they are selfish too.  I wonder what his wife thinks about his smoking and his selfishness?  He probably smokes in his car with his kids.  Good grief what a terrible person this guy must be.”

We have all committed the act of being judgmental and all have had this kind of internal conversation about someone at some point.  Being judgmental is dangerous.  We put ourselves on the pedestal as the jury and look down on someone else while forming an overly-critical opinion.

As we live our lives I suggest we all hone the skill of discernment (judging) and reduce our inclination of being judgmental.

We must protect ourselves and keep our circles tight and secure.  But we shouldn’t allow our beliefs to create a mentality of superiority.  That’s how I see it.  Hope you have a great Thursday!



18 thoughts on “What Is the Difference Between Judging and Being Judgmental?

  1. Very critical that we understand and practice the difference between the two. While we do not want to be judgemental, we should not let anyone deprive us of our right to judge between wrong and right, good and bad, godly and ungodly, safe and unsafe behaviours.

    1. I say the same exact thing to Evelina (wife) all the time. “Pay attention to everything going on around you and be prepared for anything.”

  2. Totally agree Danny. Great post! Discernment vs Judging is a vital distinction. I admit I can easily go into judgment mode on certain issues that are important to me, but I try to catch it and remind myself that no matter what, I am no better, smarter, or morally superior to any other human being on this planet and we all are just trying to live the best lives we can, in all our different circumstances. Peace and light to you on this day! 😊

    1. It is human nature to be judgmental. I’ve never known an honest person who said otherwise. The truth is exactly what you’ve said, for the most part the vast majority of people are trying to do their best.

  3. Judging is (or, ought to be) a process of weighing evidence, evaluating facts, to reach a conclusion. Being judgmental is an attitude or practice, often without the careful consideration of facts and context, and based on first impressions, and usually with a negative opinion outcome of the person, group, or action viewed.

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