I frequently breached the subject of judgment. I’ve often said, ‘we need to withhold judgment’. A phase worth contemplation, even with it's frequent use, doesn’t mean that it is well understood.
What do I mean by such a phrase? Does it mean that we need to keep from being a judge? Yes, but it also means much more. Does it mean to be highly opinionated about every situation and person, but without execution of judgment? The answer for that is most assuredly, No.
Withholding judgment has a broad application. First, we withhold judgment as we give grace to others. Then understand, perception does not equal reality. Judging by perceptible outward appearances leads misapprehending, misunderstanding, and wrong judgment. There are many indiscernible realities that keep a matter from being understood. Judging by outward appearance is foolish.
Another way to think about withholding judgment is through the old adage of book and cover. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Most of the time the cover of the book is all that is seen, and even when the book is opened mysteries still remain. Wisdom would then have a slow stride on a book and its cover, thus withholding of judgment.
Second, withholding judgment is essential because we walk dark paths. An unknown path, through the valley of darkness is the plight of mankind. No matter how well the path is charted there is still uncertainty around every corner. Therefore when we judge, or develop opinions, discerning a matter is akin to gazing through dim glass at twilight. No matter how much is perceived there are still details that remain imperceptible.
Withholding judgment is a matter of wisdom and faith. The wise do not make snap judgments based off of partial perceptions. The faithful trust in the promises of God while navigating dark paths with His lamp and light leading the way.
It isn’t uncommon for people to jump to conclusions, as if the whole story is known. Even when the whole matter comes to light, the initial judgment remains. Most often carry the veneer of self-righteousness is carried in these conclusions, when in reality, fools with evil thoughts act in this manner.
Withholding of judgment is going to make us more merciful, more gracious, and more kind. Jumping to judgment, often called opinion, most likely is self-seeking, and self-aggrandizing. In the end, followers of Christ seek discernment as a discipline of faith, of which withholding judgment is a distinct part.