The good thing about this past year of economic distress and upheaval is that many of us have done a re-evaluation of what's important to us, what we need, what we can let go of, what really matters in the end.
If you didn't lose your job this year, you probably know someone who did. If you didn't tighten your belt, you probably know a family who has had to. But even if the nation's economic crisis hasn't hit home hard with you, undoubtedly it has affected you in some way.
My first instinct, when any type of crisis occurs, is to get through it. But after I've gone through a crisis- whether it's a health crisis or a financial crisis- then there's a need I have to know what I've gained from this tense situation. Did I learn anything? Is there something I needed to know- that I didn't know when the crisis was occurring? Is there something I gleaned from the situation?
Because, really, in my mind, why not at least benefit, in some way, from a crisis? Especially if you did not bring the crisis on yourself (that's a whole 'nother story), then why not get something good out of something painful? Why not really believe that "all things work together for good...." as Romans 8:28 explains.
This past year, my husband and I have hurdled over some tough times, blazed through some mental barricades, and struggled with some issues within us and around us that we knew we needed to deal with. We needed to not only make some decisions, but we actually had to make some judgment calls.
Oh, but that's a bad word to use around the Christian community! "Judge not that ye be not judged" will ring out before you can even explain what you're making a judgment on. You might even start to think that anything remotely having to do with making a judgment is bad- and therefore you could start to think you should never: make a decision, reach a conclusion, draw a boundary line in a relationship, or do anything related to deciding, discerning, evaluating, examining.
There's no basis for that type of erroneous thinking, though, if you look at 1 Corinthians 2: 9-16. The one line from this passage that make s a lot of Christians shudder is "But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one." The CEV version words it this way, "People who are guided by the Spirit can make all kinds of judgements....".
Really? We can? We can make judgments on things that happen to us, situations we're in? God has given us His Spirit and this Spirit is a light within us, it's a lamp unto our feet, yes, and also a sword that slices through situations. It's not a kiddy light made of cheap plastic, that only works for a moment and then it's worthless.
I love how the CEV version highlights the benefit of having God's Spirit within us: "we can recognize the blessings that God has given us". Oh, I see! And if, by God's discerning Spirit within you, you can recognize the good blessings He means for you to have, by this very same Spirit you will also discern and see what is NOT God's will, what is not good for you, what is not advisable or helpful or instrumental in you growing in faith.
We make judgments so that we can conclude correctly what is of God and what is not of God or not God's will (or at least conclude that we're not sure what His will is, in certain situations). We make judgment calls because if we don't we become people who never have an opinion, a conclusion, or the ability to close a door that should be closed. We are people who CAN make judgments, who've been freed to make judgments, and therefore we will be "scrutinizing, examining, and investigating spiritual value and implications" (CEV commentary).
If something has value in your life, you have to see it, decide it's worth or recognize it's worth. The implications of what you choose and what you do not choose to think, do, believe, accept, reject- are vast. Your mental health is at stake. Your faith is at stake. Your understanding of God's will, His love, His ways of dealing with us, are all at stake here. These are the implications of everything we choose and don't choose. And no choice is made without a judgment call first.