Judgment : What We Eat Matters (Jeff Cook)
The grand ambition of the devils in CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters is to ingest both the souls of the human beings they tempt and to devour one another. The satanic aim is the consumption of other personalities.
The Accuser (and those who reflect him) ingest through accusations.
We know the feeling. When I judge others I am actually feeding. No matter what rank or demographic of person I critique, I cannot help but feel a gain in my self-worth by taking others and putting them below me. When judging others, I feed off the contrast – by proclaiming in my heart another person’s value and setting myself ever so slightly above them.
Greg Boyd does fantastic work on this in his book Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God. In it Boyd argues that “Judgment is ascribing worth to myself at cost to others.”
“Judgment” does not include discernment shared in love among brothers and sisters. “Judgment” isn’t the encouragement offered from a friend to be rid of an addiction. Judgment requires comparison. When I judge—those in my community, in my culture, or the famous from afar—I use my knowledge of good and evil to feed on another person. Judgment fills my personal self-esteem through measuring my best self with another’s perceived inadequacies.
For value is always derived from comparison. “This” compared to “that” establishes worth. The root of judgment is seeking our worth in the diminishment of another. This is the opposite of love. For love is ascribing worth to someone else at cost to myself.
Of course gaining my value from others is unnecessary for God establishes our worth clearly in the life and death of Christ. In the cross we see the truth that in God’s eyes, each human being has already been measured and their value has been determined. Over and again the Bible tells us what we are leveraged against.
“This is my body broken for you” (1 Cor 11).
“Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own” (Titus 2).“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father” (Revelation 1).
As such, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I came to you knowing only Jesus Christ crucified for you” (1 Cor 2:2) All Paul cared for when approaching the people the Spirit gave him was that God considered them worthy of His one and only life.
What happens when we make judging another’s value our posture? Are there any instances where assessing another human beings value—because of their success or their failures—is healthy? Through judgment are we not saying, “Jesus your assessment isn’t good enough. I can do a better job at this. Your cross isn’t sufficient”?
Greg Boyd argues, since the value of a human being has already been set in place our only job is to agree with Christ – to see our lives and everyone around us through the cross. Boyd writes, “The central defining mark of disciples of Christ is that they in turn ascribe unconditional worth to themselves and all others.”
We should all begin proclaiming together as a highest principle—Satan’s tactics are unworthy of us. The use of judgment is a last ditch method of the damned. Love however is the eternal power that holds reality together and is moving us into God’s everlasting future. Let us not feed from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but from the tree upon which the Lord of Glory died—and on that tree alone.
JEFF COOK lectures on philosophy at the University of Northern Colorado. He is the author of Everything New: Reimagining Heaven and Hell(Subversive 2015). He pastors Atlas Church in Greeley, Colorado. You can connect with him at www.everythingnew.org and @jeffvcook.