Everyone’s A Critic

New Yorkers are expected to know the best and the worst of everything: where to get the best pastrami sandwiches; who designs the best suits; the best plays on Broadway; etc.
This way of thinking carries over when we evaluate people:
who’s the coolest; who’s the funniest; who’s the most attractive.
And we’re not talking about just the rich and famous. We like to critique our co-workers, friends, family and strangers. It is unavoidable. When we first see a person unknown to us, we make immediate decisions about that person even before we have met them. Within a millisecond, we have decided if they are attractive, need to lose weight, seem honest, could be fun to be with, are conservative or liberal, etc. Soon we start dissecting them to pieces: he/she has a weird nose, he/she is a flirt, he/ she talks too much, etc.

Of course, nothing is wrong with evaluating folks. It’s our way of sizing up a person so we can proceed cautiously in social situations. It is also our way of protecting ourselves from possible rejection or conflict. Will this person be fun to be with or a pain in the posterior?

So what is the difference between critiquing and judging a person?

“Judging” a person is actually different. Judging is when we take the information we have gathered about the person and use it against them. Judging takes a negative turn when we decide to place others beneath us. When we categorize them as sub-humans not worth a second look. From a Christian perspective, judging is considered a sin because when we decide we are superior to someone else, we ACT on our prejudices. We dismiss them as a people; we don’t listen to what they have to say; we disregard their needs and we don’t care what happens to them. This is when it is sin, because we have contempt for someone else.

Certainly we can’t be friends with everyone in the world and we do choose who we want to hang out with.
But to shut the door on other people because of class, race, age, looks, education, body weight, political party, sexual preference, gender, coolness factor and then to decide these people are not worth knowing, is the height of arrogance and snobbery.

Remember that at the same time that you are evaluating someone else’s pros and cons…someone else is doing the exact same thing to you…only worse.

As ordinary Christian people, we can’t be expected to befriend everyone, but we can bring to all people we encounter, whether it’s a celebrity, homeless person, policeman or a cleaning lady, a smile, respect and an open heart, free of stereotypes, prejudices and reservations.
And yes, there will be certain people who we love to be around and others we will never be able get along with. But God places people in your life for a purpose and you might find that when you get to know someone regardless of their race, age, or coolness factor, that they may teach you something you never knew.

That they are just like you…possessing the same struggle for identity, the same uncertainty about the future, and the same search for love.

Be open minded to people who have been placed in your life. Many things about them they cannot help and many things they certainly are responsible for; but every person has his own personal struggle in life and needs support. And in being open to “someone whom you might not ordinarily be friends with”, you may find a loyal and devoted friend who will be your biggest cheerleader.

Concerning other people, the Lord asks only one thing of you: To love your neighbor as yourself.


© 2003 Edrick


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