It seems to me that folks in every field attempt to categorize everything. Perhaps it’s a method of being able to understand how things work by extrapolating from known to the unknown. Perhaps it’s a way of making predictions for the future. Perhaps it’s a way of manipulating facts and controlling behaviors.
Some examples? Astrology, Myers-Briggs personality typing (and all that ilk), IQ tests, Spiritual gift tests, etc. In the material world we categorize vehicles as sedans, SUV’s, trucks, passenger vans, cargo vans, etc. In the animal world, we categorize by species. When we categorize, we develop a mental picture and expectations for that category. We would not accept a cat that looked like an elephant. In the material world, preparing our expectations through identifying the category of the object we are encountering helps to modify our reactions. Improper categorization can lead to unrealistic expectations and either disappointment or surprise.
When it comes to human beings however, I am beginning to wonder if the need and the effort we put into categorizing each other has some negative consequences. If I judge someone by their behavior, am I writing them off in the future, am I having expectations for them that are unrealistic or not in keeping with truth? It is definitely a challenge to note what God has to say about making judgements.
Here are some verses on judgement:
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgement.
James 2:13 for he shall have judgment without mercy, that has shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
Psalms 37:30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh widom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
Psalms 119:66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments
Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall also be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Romans 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
1Corinthians 6:4 If then ye have judgements of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
1 Samuel 16:7b For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
In these contexts, I see judgment being exercised individually against individuals and corporately against both individuals and groups. There are lots of verses about judgment in the Old Testament, but much fewer in the New Testament. It seems that once God became incarnate in Jesus, He began to convey to mankind how far we had missed the mark of righteousness.
What I wonder about is why we feel the need to compartmentalize people? Is it self-protection? Is it our own insecurities about our weaknesses and fallibility? The older I get, the more I am aware of my own failures and limitations – and realize that those will only grow as my body and mind begin to grow weaker. I know that when this mortal shall put on immortality, all that I have known on this earth will be dust compared to what I will experience when I am with Jesus. My prayer and hope is that I will become more like Him, walk in the Spirit more with better spiritual discernment, and that I will point others to Him more clearly. The only treasures we can lay up in heaven are those that have eternal value – souls who turn to Jesus and can join us in praise and worship someday.