Posted by: howvoicebegan | 03/04/2011

When Will We Stop Judging?

Disclaimer: This post addresses some touchy subjects. Please remember to take ALL statements within the context of the entire post. Also know that the language is not meant to make blanket statements about groups of people, but rather to acknowledge that it applies to some people within a group. It’s not meant to hurt or offend anyone, or stir up anger or bitterness. We are all human and we all sin. I’m simply addressing that.

A few days ago I was the unfortunate victim of a robbery in Mamelodi. The robbery itself is nothing new or exciting; it’s just another story of a snatch and run. The good news is my purse was returned, and although ruined, contained all my important items—credit cards, driver’s license, cell phone. I was missing just the R320 cash.

The point isn’t about the robbery, but rather the events and thoughts that followed. As I walked back to my car after getting my purse, the crowd of people watching turned against me. Most of them had no idea what had happened, but they followed the crowd, literally and metaphorically. Soon it turned into a situation of animosity, with the crowd swearing at me, cheering on the robbers, and telling me to get out of the township. A taxi driver came along side and demanded I get in, saying, “If you don’t get in, these people will kill you!”  When I got in, they cheered, glad I was leaving, laughing at me and mocking me.

Later as I related the story to a friend, I asked him if he thought the taxi driver was truthful. He nodded. I asked, “Why? Why would they want to kill me?” He responded, “After years of apartheid with white people abusing black people, an opportunity to get revenge on a white person is something they just might take advantage of.”

I understood, but I shook my head. It is a shame that, just because of my skin colour, I am associated with evilness and oppression, and they resent me. I wanted to go back and shout at them, “I am not South African! I had nothing to do with your history, so if you think that you are justified in hurting me because of your country’s past, you are dead wrong—on many grounds. Even if I am South African, does that mean I’m an oppressor? Does it mean I think you are inferior? Does it mean I hate you? Am I the evil minority of the country?” All of us have been the subject of judgment, but judgment like this is outright dangerous to life itself. I was angry and hurt that the community I came to serve turned on me—because, as my friend speculates, I am white.

The robbery also upset me because I’ve spent my time here telling people that Mamelodi is not as bad as everything thinks it is. Sure, there is crime. Yes, it happens often. But I know many, many good, honest, decent, hard-working Mamelodians—far more than I know of thieves, liars, or thugs. My story contains two of them—the taxi driver and the man who returned my purse without further theft. Now my white friends who urged me to stay out because black people are “dangerous” will shake their heads, feeling justified in their judgments, and say, “I told you so.” Many people believe, or imply, that Mamelodi is full of thugs ready to pounce at every opportunity. I am disappointed that the action of two men will hurt my defence of Mamelodi; my countless positive and amazing stories will be neutralized by one single act of theft.

Lets set it straight: a picture of two imperfect humans; not a picture of an abuser and a thug

All of this is to say that wrongful judgment is at best a wall built between two people and at worst a life threatening reaction. People judge Mamelodi as a place of evil, and I’ve heard people say terrible things about black people just because they are black. People in Mamelodi judged me as evil because my skin colour is white. Everyone is wrong.

So many things surround this issue that affect all of us, whether we are black, white, or purple: Sin. Unforgiveness. Judgment. Bitterness. Unkindness. Hatred. My sadness regarding what happened is not about theft, or black versus white, or the kind of place Mamelodi is. It’s this: oh, how wrong we are when we judge people! When we assume we know someone as a thug! When we think we know that someone is an oppressor! It’s baffling how quickly we become traitors to the kingdom of God and serve the kingdom of our enemy through our judgments that hurt people, destroy relationships, and ostracize communities. And it’s devastating how many of us are entirely committed to God’s adversary.

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written, “’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. –Romans 14:10-12 (NIV)

Let’s all make something better of ourselves and cease judgment—for judgment belongs to no one but God. Let God judge thieves. Let God judge biases. Let me be held accountable in front of God, not a mob of assuming, angry people. Let’s step back with our assumptions, and let’s practice self-control in our reactions to our judgments.



  1. Spot on!!

  2. I think that being judged is sometimes one of the most hurtfull things a person can go through. When someone judge or point a finger at somebody else, then they also imply that they think they are better than that person. The easiest thing to do is to judge something or someone else’s work or position, but that is only a empty feeling of selfrighteousness.
    To stand, build and work for something good in Gods kingdom on the other hand is admirable.

    Treat other people the way you like to be treated yourself.

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