How to Answer a Judgmental Person with Grace
Judgement, in its intended use, enables us to make objective and wise decisions. These decisions then affect our actions. Without judgement, we would flail and flounder.
But judgment is often misused. Appointed judges in the legal system carry out a country’s laws. But sometimes, they abuse their power, and injustice happens. We can use our judgement to make right decisions, but sometimes we use it for selfish purposes, wreaking havoc in our relationships.
You run into these kinds of people everywhere—the ones who seems to think they have the right to give unsolicited parenting advice, or the ones who seem to always have reasons for why your ideas won’t work.
It’s part of our self-driven nature, and we think we know best. Sometimes we do, but often we don’t. And we lose the distinction between opinions, facts, and our life experiences.
Unfortunately, judgmental people abound in our lives. Too often, a simple opinion crosses the line into offense. Offense is the enemy of grace and leads to injury, which leads to resentment, which leads to revenge.
In Matthew 10:8, Jesus instructs his disciples to give away what they’ve received from him. It’s easy to return evil with evil because offense wars with grace. But as people of grace, we give up our right for payback when others offend us. And we have God’s strength and instruction to turn the other cheek and give away the grace we have received.
1. Desire to Do Good by Being Kind
Sometimes, the most disarming thing we can do is to react with kindness. But our natural response is not kindness; it’s vindication. We want exoneration when we’re judged. Yet, it’s in these moments that we must extend kindness.
This is challenging because our natural response is to lash out, ignore them, or talk about them when they’re not around.
Develop kindness toward judgmental people. It grows our faith to respond in kindness when we encounter judgement. God calls us and enables us to live to a higher standard than the world around us. Imagine what the world would be like if we replied to each judgement with a kind word. Kindness diffuses the darts of judgement. To be kind is to desire to do good to others.
How can you be kind to the judgmental people in your life? Is there a way you could bless them with a kind word, smile, or service?
2. Reach for Calm with a Gentle Response
Gentleness seems to be something we reserve for the very young or the very old. Somehow, it gets lost in the muddle of living and we equate gentleness with weakness.
But gentleness is power under control. It takes incredible strength to filter our response toward that judgmental person. God’s grace and power solidifies a gentle response.
Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a gentle answer turns away wrath. And Philippians 4:5 reminds us that our gentleness should be evident to all.
Gentleness is an action that flows from a heart at rest in who they are in Christ. Reach for gentleness in your next encounter with a judgmental person.
3. Bear With One Another by Showing Mercy
None of us have perfection mastered. All of us, at one point or another, will have a judgmental statement, thought, or action. Human nature leans toward selfishness.
But mercy is the gift we received when we received Jesus. We define mercy by understanding that we don’t get what we deserve. In the same way, we choose not to seek revenge.
Mercy guides us to overlook an offense, as Proverbs 19:11 encourages us to do. Bearing with one another through negative encounters is one way that we can extend mercy. Sometimes, the judgement passed has more to do with the other person’s struggles than it does with you. Let it be and let it go. Overlook it and choose mercy.
4. Demonstrate Compassion
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)
These verses present a high standard for us to follow in how we treat one another. But our mistakes should not prevent us from choosing compassion in the face of judgement.
To repay evil with blessing requires strong faith. It calls for hearts to be wholly dependent on God. This level of faith and dependence comes through wrestling with our own hearts. It means making the choice to bless the one who hurts. When we choose blessing, we find freedom from the tug of war that man’s opinions plays with our hearts.
5. Choose Forgiveness
Judgements can render us crippled and defensive. Misunderstandings take place because pieces of the picture are missing. And it’s easy to overcompensate by thinking we have to fill in the missing details. But what if we chose forgiveness first? What if we decided to be okay with being misunderstood?
I’ve been misunderstood and rejected because of someone’s misplaced judgement. It made me feel helpless and bound by that negative opinion. Rather than focusing on forgiveness, I focused on proving them wrong. And that motivation, my friends, makes an even bigger mess.
Choosing forgiveness in the face of judgement is so hard. Forgiveness is to set aside resentment and grant pardon. So, to forgive we need to fulfill two difficult tasks:
- We need to let go of resentment.
- We need to grant pardon.
Letting go of resentment starts with realizing the flawed nature everyone has. Redeemed people still sin. The second part of forgiveness deals with grudge holding. When we refuse to grant a pardon, we allow grudges to take root. Grudges choke what God is growing in our hearts.
The best way to handle the epidemic of judgement in our world is with grace, exercising it with people in all circumstances and situations. We must relinquish the tendency toward revenge and reach for grace. It is grace that transforms us into reflections of Christ.
I would love it if everyone would approve of me, but I know that’s an unrealistic wish. There will be judgmental people ready with their opinions. It can wreak havoc, or it can teach.
We can rely on God for strength to forgive and to show compassion. We can depend on him to show us how to show mercy, gentleness, and kindness. I pray that you find the same kind of outcome: growth, the strengthening of your faith, and the very real, tangible experience of God at work in you.
Jessica Van Roekel is a woman on the journey to wholeness through brokenness. She believes that through Christ your personal histories don’t have to define your present or determine your future. Her greatest desire is to see you live this “God-life” with all the power and grace that God provides. Jessica lives in a rural community with her husband and four children. She leads worship on Sundays, but seeks to be a worshiper every day. You can connect with her at www.welcomegrace.com and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/
Photo Credit: GettyImages/Lumppini
Photo Credit: GettyImages/Lumppini
Jessica Van Roekel leads worship in her local church and writes at www.welcomegrace.com. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future and writes about the transforming power of grace. Jessica lives in a rural setting surrounded by farmland and her husband and children. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.