By Joseph & Brenda Rinehart
Book review by Donna Totey
Who among us hasn’t looked at someone else and judged them? Say you’re in a grocery store and see a mom harshly reprimand her child. Or you’re in traffic and someone pulls out in front of you, causing you to slam on your brakes. Or you see someone sitting in church and they’re wearing tattered jeans and kind of smell funny. We get frustrated or superior or disgusted or even pious. I know I’ve been there. But sometimes we don’t even know we’re doing it. The Rineharts talk about why we do this and how to move past it in their book, Moving From Judgment.
The book starts out with a very real discussion amongst the elders of the church and Joseph Rinehart, the pastor. The question causing division is, “Are we taking in just anybody?” Unfortunately, people in a lot of churches across the country are having the same conversation, with reasons summed up as “letting the wrong kind of people in” or “being a novice.”
The Rineharts address the reasons for people being so judgmental, starting with Personhood. They point out that humanity was given the power of free choice, and while very valuable and precious to God, we are capable of very destructive, self-centered and shortsighted actions. That is followed by Personal Values, which we all learn from influences in our family, personal experience, popular culture, preferences and our inborn human nature. Cultural Values are also a part of why we are the way we are. Ultimately, the Rineharts point out that when we can recognize that “all humans possess equal value that has nothing to do with work, personality, attractiveness, values, behaviors or anything else,” then we can start to “treat one another with the dignity and respect due” to them based on who we are to God.
What if you’ve been the one judged? Several principles are outlined to help you to get through it, and then move past it. Joseph Rinehart, through his personal experiences, lays out 6 principles: Acknowledge the hurt, give yourself time, don’t pick at the scabs, let the train leave the station (move on and leave it behind), understand the nature of cause and effect (hurt people…hurt people) and use your hurt to heal others.
The final conclusion is that we all must look to God to not only overcome hurt, but to love others with the compassion of Jesus. None of us are exempt from being judged or from doing the judging.
I love the subject of this book because most of us could stand to work on our judgmental hearts. We are yearning to be more like Christ and this is an area in which we are sometimes blind. I like what the Rineharts state…”Since the world around us changes daily, if not hourly, we have a deep-seated need to build our priorities on something solid that does not change—the reason that Jesus emphasized the need to ‘love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.’” The Rineharts aren’t just talking about theories here; they’ve walked through some very painful personal experiences, where they had to try to understand the judgments made against them.
Moving from Judgment is not a book that can be read in one sitting. The text is rich with theology and ideas that one must “chew on” to really understand the concepts. In each chapter, there’s a section titled, “Going Deeper” in which there are several scripture passages, with the background of what was happening at that time in history and “The Point,” why it’s significant in our lives today. Then there’s a prayer, which I found very meaningful and conversational, which was helpful in expressing to God what I just learned and asking Him to change me in those specific ways. Because of the format, the book lends itself to be used on a personal level or as a tool for a group.