My husband and I weren’t yet married. We were in college, sitting in the food court as a girl walked by. Her heels clacked away, and Josh turned to me.
“So, what was wrong with her outfit?”
“You looked her up and down two times. I know you have an opinion.”
I wish I could say this was an abnormal conversation. In the early years of our dating and marriage, I was a critical, judgmental person, particularly of other women. Though outwardly confident, I was inwardly insecure – threatened by the abilities and appearance of my peers. Rather than deal with my insecurity for the sin it was, I took the high expectations I had for myself and laid them on other people’s shoulders.
Five days before my first daughter was born, my husband and I moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania. We only knew one couple in the entire state. I quit my five-year career at my alma mater the day before we moved, so here I was: New stage of life, needing to make new friends, in a new city. The insecurity only increased – and thus the potential for judgment.
We only lived in Pennsylvania for one year, but that year transformed my view of female relationships. From the first Sunday we stepped in the door of our new home church, the women looked at me without judgment or pretense. I was used to having to prove myself; they never expected me to do so. Instead of measuring, comparing, or jockeying for position, these women showed me the love of Christ.
Modern motherhood provides fertile ground for judgment. The moms group I joined in our new Pennsylvania home could have facilitated those attitudes, but it didn’t – because these women lived by the Spirit of God. A quick look through the Facebook comments on any motherhood article proves that this is uncommon in today’s mommy culture! But until we are secure in our Christ-won identities, we will always try to prove ourselves by personal merit – then use those same expectations as our measure for others. Judgment always begins from a place of insecurity and pride, and the only way to be free is through the only perfect Judge.
This critical spirit so pervasive in modern motherhood is the very attitude that Jesus saw and condemned in the Pharisees. They added extra requirements to God’s commands – requirements which at first, may have been a well-intentioned means of honoring the Lord. But when the Pharisees took those requirements and demanded that others observe them, what started as a means to honor God became heavy burdens of judgment on those who didn’t measure up.
A judging, critical spirit will destroy missional motherhood. It will keep us from thriving relationships. It will teach our children to condemn rather than show compassion. It will drive a wedge between our hearts and the Lord’s and prevent us from accomplishing His will. In the moment, we feel as if we have a right to judge – especially when we have high expectations for ourselves and our families. But even good things become evil when they take over God’s throne in our hearts.
We need deliverance from a critical spirit. God alone is the judge of both the world and the church. While he gives us His truth by which to discern right and wrong, it is still His truth – not ours. Allowing God to be the judge frees us to love others with full abandon. We are no longer burdened by our own criticism and blinded by our own imperfect judgment. Without the weight of this burden, we’re able to pursue relationships that glorify God – especially with other women.
Christmas may bring us new opportunities to compare and critique. But it also grants us opportunities for Christ to deliver us from a critical spirit. The entrance of Emmanuel frees us from judgment and condemnation – both of ourselves and of others.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:
- Do you struggle with judging other women? Have you ever considered the connection between your own insecurities and the things for which you judge others?
- How does the coming of Christ as the only perfect Judge change your perspective on judgment?
- In what ways does the gospel free us from bondage to a critical spirit?
Phylicia Masonheimer is a blogger, author, and podcaster teaching women how to live as overcomers in Christ. She writes about dating, early marriage, and young motherhood on her website, Phyliciadelta.com and co-hosts Uniquely Woman, a podcast for women eager to apply faith to their daily lives. She lives in northern Michigan with her husband, Josh, and two daughters, Adeline and Geneva.