God is precise with His words.
Therefore, it is essential for man to understand their meanings.
Descriptions of praise, acknowledgments of pleasing actions, high moral or ethical values, uplifting conversation, pleasant attitudes or rewards are never described as being judgmental.
However, a person is frequently described as being judgmental if he or she talks bad about another person. It is also considered judgmental to look down upon another person’s values, behaviors, or attitudes or to actively condemn another person with the intent of shame or punishment.
Negative comments or descriptions may have some truth, but they are still considered prejudicial attitudes or remarks.
Judging or being judgmental nearly always carries a negative connotation. So the natural inclination is to assume that the one that is judging is casting condemnation and calling for punishment. However, this is not necessarily the case.
Word Interpretation vs. Intent
Most of our thinking is formed in pictures. When we see or hear words, those words produce a mental picture. The words apple, orange, and banana do not seem to require much description once we have knowledge of what these objects are.
One might think that the mental picture formed of these three fruits would probably be fairly consistent. The orange would be a round, stippled object of the same color; the banana would most likely be long and yellow; and the apple would likely be a stemmed red sphere.
However, the orange might be smooth-skinned instead of deeply stippled. The banana might be green or yellow with brown-black splotches or streaks, and the apple could have striations or even be yellow or green in color.
So we see that even simple, commonplace words can create some degree of ambiguity in meaning, and as a result, the mental pictures formed could vary. How much more difficult is the interpretation of less concrete words like judge and judgment, which must be filtered through the sieves of tradition, culture, experience, education, emotion, time, and more. An interpretation, created though our filters, can lead to a personal definition of a word that may or may not agree with reality or an absolute truth.
An individual might apply his or her own distorted definition whenever they encounter that particular word.
Semantics is extremely important because of the variety of impressions, opinions, and emotions that words evoke. As a result, words can be interpreted with relative meanings that may or may not be accurate. Words form impressions and convey meaning, thought, and intent based on our own personal definitions. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand the true meanings and intents of the words we use so that communication can be accurate and convey the correct information.
Although some words do have intrinsic, even universal meanings, an individual may sometimes base their entire life on an errant definition. It may be drawn from misunderstanding, incorrect teaching, faulty education or a distorted and incorrect interpretation, based on personal experience. Sometimes, the true meaning of a word is at odds with the way that the word is being used in its application. When words are poured through the funnel of time, they can also become distorted or diluted and even assume totally opposite meanings. Certain colloquialisms may alter the original meaning of a word altogether. This distortion can be seen in many instances of slang terminology such as with the slang expression of the word bad which in some contexts means good.
Consider the terms judge, judgment or condemn, and sentence. Regardless of their accuracy, our personal definitions of these words are at the core of our individually perceived reality and understanding of God’s character and nature.
Therefore, a common understanding of the true meaning of these terms is needed in order to fully understand the true character and nature of God.
judge (verb) From Middle English juggen, from Anglo-French juger, from Latin judicare, from judic-, judex judge, from jus right, law + dicere to decide, say, to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises; to determine or pronounce after inquiry and deliberation.
judgment (noun) A formal utterance of an authoritative opinion; an opinion so pronounced.
condemn (verb) To declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation; to pronounce guilty.
sentence (verb) Judgment; specifically: one formally pronounced by a court or judge in a criminal proceeding and specifying the punishment to be inflicted upon the convict; the punishment so imposed.
The meanings of these words are intertwined and can cause confusion when not properly understood. The words judge and judgment do not mean the same as to condemn or to sentence. Judge and judgment are truly descriptive not of punishment, but of a conclusion based on inquiry, facts, testing, and evidence. A determination is then passed on to the next phase.
A determination or judgment can go either way. Freedom comes with a judgment of innocence, but once a determination of wrongdoing is established, a judgment of guilt is declared. When guilt is determined, a declaration of the imposed punishment is handed down, and a sentence is imposed upon the one judged to be guilty. The degree of punishment depends on the penalty affixed to the offense. However, many people use the words judge and judgment as declarations of only guilt and punishment.
The word judgment is found many times in the Old Testament. The following passages in Isaiah 1:17 and 1:21 are a small sampling of context in which judgment is used with a positive meaning. Isaiah 1:17 indicates that the purpose of judgment is to determine good through discernment and to pronounce positive blessings.
God is very precise with His words. Therefore, it is essential for man to understand their meanings. Sometimes, there can be a wide discrepancy between what the sender (God) means and what the receiver (man) hears.
Consequently, there is great potential for misunderstanding that can completely alter one’s life due to inaccurate, unique personal definitions that are based on life filters and perspective. This is why understanding the meanings of relevant terms is so important.
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
Do you want to learn more about this subject?
Read Chapter 21, Who Is Judging You?
in Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem
You can read about more subjects from Ideolatry below.