Jesus and Judgement (DBT musings part II)

Today I was in the DBT group that I observe as a student therapist and found scripture coming to mind as we covered mindfulness basics.

Nonjudgement is a key aspect of of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. In DBT Mindfulness participants are encouraged to refrain from judgmnt and instead to observe, describe, then fully participate.  Many people who come to the group are plagued with judgement of themselves. 

Jesus says “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7 1-2)

It is interesting that Jesus makes this link.  I previously interpreted this verse to mean that God will judge me as I have judged others.  However, I see now that it is also possible to interpret this scripture in the present tense- the more judgement I pass on others, the more I will also pass on myself. 

However, as in the parable about the log and speck (Matthew 7) just as we judge others incorrectly we also judge ourselves (I’m no good, I’m unloveable) inaccurately, often overjudge, and miss the parts of ourselves that hurt others (pride, arrogance). 

Throughout the Bible we are told that the only true judge is God alone- he is the ultimate judge- then why do we so often take on that role? 

Even Jesus’ disciples were notorious judgers- how many times did Jesus’ disciples want to turn away people because they innacurately judged Jesus’ love and desire to meet them?  For example, the little children (Matthew 19:13-15), and the Caananite woman (Matthew 15: 21-27). 

Is part of faith in Jesus refraining from judgement?  Not only to others, but to ourselves, and in judging what God can do and how He loves the world?

At first when I heard about non-judgement  I thought that th idea was ridiculous and not Christian as we want God to change our lives and free us from sin.  Isn’t judging the way we recognize sin in our lives?

Maybe, maybe not.

First of all we ask God to identify sin in our lives (Psalm 139: 22-24). 

Secondly we can examine ourselves with compassion and kindness- without judgement as God affirms us that he has saved us through his son and there is no condemnation (Romans 8: 1).  Why would we condemn ourselves when God has freed us?

How then do we identify sin in our lives?  We can examine our lives and observe the times and ways in which we have been far and near from God.  This can take the from of the daily examen – an ancient practice develop by St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Through observation of ourselves the discrepency between what is Godly and good, and what are the desires of flesh we can understand our actions, and seek forgiveness, repent, and recieve new life.

Many who have been saved by God continue to condemn and judge themselves.  Especially people we see in our neighborhood who have mental illness and drug addiction, are estranged from their family, and see their life as a string of failure. 

“It doesn’t make sense why God would love a person like me…”

“It’s hard to see anything but sin and regret in my life…”

Can Jesus free us from self-judgement? Yes, he must.  But he also fills us with the Holy Spirit which groans within us to rebuke us kindly and gently and as we experience the father’s love he slowly shows us our sin as we’re ready in a gentle way through scripture and his spirit.

In that way observing and describing and refrain judgeing can be a good start to accepting the love of Christ, rather than pushing it away or reinforcing the lies of the world (that we are unloveable, no good, constantly failing…). 

What do you think?  Comments?? Ideas?


7 thoughts on “Jesus and Judgement (DBT musings part II)

  1. April,

    I love the tone of your entries so far! They are so full of self-reflection and also rich with the scriptures. I also appreciate your humility that comes through, even as it is apparent by your writing that you are very knowledgeable in many of these topics.

    In regard to judgment, I think it might be fair to say that the Bible discerns between being “judgmental” (a self-righteous condemnation stemming from pride) and judging (or making discernments) regarding matters of faith, disciplinary matters (1 Corinthians 5:12-13), or simply appraising a situation (Acts 4:19).

    The notion of recognizing sin in one’s life might be considered a major point of departure between Buddhist teachings and the teachings of Christ. Christ did not want us to be both aware and tolerant of the things the Bible calls sin. He wanted us to become aware and to use that awareness to change. A good example is found in John 8:1-11. Jesus essentially rescues the woman caught in adultery. We see in perfect balance the grace and truth that Jesus brought (John 1:14). On one hand, Jesus chose not to judge her. (Maybe we could also take licence and interpret this in the way you read Matthew 7, and say that she should also not judge herself?) Yet on the other hand he admonished her to leave her life of sin. Was the admonishment judgment? No, it was an act of love. (Perhaps then, admonishing one’s self about the things that need to change in our own lives could be acts of self-love?)

    I think this is a hard balance to strike. Many of us are either flippant about our own sinfulness or brutally harsh on ourselves.

    Please keep writing! Your thoughts are really great.


  2. I loved this…when I first decided to become more mindful ..I also wondered about the non judging principle that mindfulness encourages. Was this a contradiction to my faith? I personally feel that part of our sin nature (or ego ) is made of up past experiences that have been lodged in the brain and much of this is…the continual stream of inner condemnation and judgement. We as christians are told to fight these lies by “taking thoughts captive”. How does God really see me if I am a new creature in Christ? What is my new identity?
    God no longer judges us if we are his own…so who gave us the right the pick up where we left off before Christ? Did Christ not die for our sin…past present and future? I think we forget that when he looks at us .he sees his son.
    If he doesnt condemn us and He is God…How can we condemn ourselves? That is ego.

  3. Thank you. I have been looking everywhere for information on radical acceptance and DBT from a Christian standpoint. Not an easy thing to. I have been in DBT classes, for treatment, for many years. I am a Christian and at times I find participation difficult because most of those in my classes tend toward the Eastern religions. In studying I do not find many of the principles too different except of course, Christ is not in the center. I usually do not say much about my faith because I know I will be judged, even though I am not suppose to be, or maybe that is my problem. Anyway, your insights are extremely helpful and I find them very comforting.

    • I share your struggle Becky, but from the other side: stepping out as a new therapist in a therapy that has such strong visible ties with the eastern religions. What I think is great is that mindfulness is something that we can do from a Christian perspective , being aware in how God is present in each moment, etc. I also struggle to share my faith with my colleagues. I struggle that it is ok to have pictures of buddha but would probably be not ok to have a picture of the cross in my office. I have to remind myself that God does have healing and loving power above and beyond our mental strength and “skills”. God uses us even in our weakness. Some times it’s hard when it seems that psychology is presented as having all the tools to fix peoples lives that people would be open to hearing about God in that context.

  4. I appreciate your writings. What you’ve written I’ve said in sessions with clients who’ve asked how can love a thing like me. But I need to be reminded as well, because I’ve fallen into trap of believing my value is in what I do, not who or whose I am. Bless you!

  5. I’m currently in a DBT group have been thinking a lot about the spiritual disciplines in light of mindfulness and finding a connection to them. From the mindfulness readings and lectio divina to the Prayer of the Examen with a non-judgmental attitude, but one of learning and opportunity for growth. Have you found any other spiritual disciplines that are helpful or parallel DBT?

    • Good question Jennifer- sorry for the delay! I think engaging in wholeheartedness is a concept- maybe not a spiritual discipline. I find more and more the discipline of Sabbath (self-care, taking a vacation from your problems) is one that is extremely necessary in our day and age.

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