The Courage to Face Ingratitude XVI

That which often seems to us to be ingratitude, may be merely our own ignorance of the subtle phases of human nature. Sometimes a man’s heart is so full of thankfulness that he cannot speak, and in the very intensity of his appreciation, mere words seem to him paltry, petty, and inadequate, and the depth of the eloquence of his silence is misunderstood. Sometimes the consciousness of his inability to repay, develops a strange pride—genuine gratitude it may be, though unwise in its lack of expression—a determination to say nothing, until the opportunity for which he is waiting to enable him to make his gratitude an actuality. There are countless instances in which true gratitude has all the semblance of the basest ingratitude, as certain harmless plants are made by Nature to resemble poison-ivy.” ~ William George Jordan

If there is one lesson I’ve learned over the years it is this: appearances can be deceiving. This is, among other factors, one of the reasons why it is imprudent to impose rash and harsh judgments on the world around you. Your mind is a powerful tool. Used rightly, it is a tool of rational thinking that can help you navigate the smoke and mirrors of the world; used incorrectly it is a mechanism of rationalization that can confuse you and give a false impression of the world around you.

I remember the first time I heard the injunction: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” A teenager at the time, the concept intrigued me as the capacity for and the exercise of judgment seemed to be what we, as human beings, were wired for. Everything around me gave evidence of the importance and the necessity of judgment.

A few chapters later – in the book and in life – I came across the corollary to the above-mentioned concept which clarified my confusion about the first injunction. Perhaps you’ve seen it too: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

What is righteous judgment?

Righteous judgment is the ability to see a situation as it is, to see straight to the heart of the matter without prejudice or misconception. Righteous judgment is unhurried and unclouded judgment. In a word, righteous judgment is the ability to discern clearly, without the interference of a troubled heart or the machinations of a mind short-circuited by rationalization.

Discernment is an important quality of effective living, and the difference between judgment and discernment is largely a matter of timing and emotional content. Those who judge tend to jump to conclusions. They react to their initial impressions after squaring them to their prejudices, rather than letting the matter reveal itself for what it truly is. They trust their “gut feelings” more than their minds and hearts and they are willing to win some and lose some on that basis.

Those who learn to discern, however, remember that their gut is for digestion, rather than thinking. They have learned from previous experiences that jumping to concussions, as a friend of mine likes to say, is never better than taking the time to analyze carefully. They also know that you are not likely to see clearly if your heart is troubled. Far too many important life decisions are made through the lens of a troubled heart and we have the world that we have because of that flawed approach to living.

Whether you are religiously inclined or not, these principles can serve you well if you learn to apply them in your living.

9 thoughts on “The Courage to Face Ingratitude XVI

  1. TW

    “Discernment is an important quality of effective living, and the difference between judgment and discernment is largely a matter of timing and emotional content.”- This is such a key phrase, practice in living will be the key!! Thank you Gregg.


  2. Isabelle K.

    I liked your description of the gut being for “digestion” or for discerning, not judging. The further we stay away from making judgements, the better off as its the folly of arrogance to think we see and know everything.


  3. David R

    In a world characterized by so many layers of deception and complexity the temptation to lunge this way or that in judgmental opinion is great, but such an approach only tightens the knots and increases the imbalance. Judge not. Judge righteous judgment. The two statements are not antithetical. One proceeds from the other.

    We were meant to function with discernment, wisdom and discretion. there is a difference between an opinion formed as part of an unfolding pattern and one that is rigidly jammed into the works. Learning these lessons is at the very core of what it means to live effectively with both heart and mind well engaged in an integrated process.


  4. Ricardo B.

    Nice one here…..a mind clouded by heavy preconception is divorced from the fullness of the present moment and so is only proportionally effective at distilling the truth of the situation depending on the degree of bias. This can be a tricky matter if you have let some aspect of your security be involved, for the forces of self-preservation kick in quite vigorously and that can very much add distracting elements to your thinking. It takes a strong mind and heart to recognize this and be willing to overcome it if it does not square up to recognized observations, plausible logic and even some common sense.
    I’ve learned that there is always alot to learn, and best to keep an open stance in things and have sufficient humility to change your position on matters when the evidence becomes clear to do so.


  5. Coco

    William Jordan’s description of the person who feels yet is unable to articulate is such a valid point. Allowing the gravitation of discernment to steer our thinking instead of a rush to judgement is great advice. I think a key is seeing where our point of reference is, a loving heart or a troubled heart? I appreciate examining this principle…thanks Gregg.


  6. happytobehere

    What a clear explanation. It makes sense we were given the gift of discernment. It probably was meant to be used initially on ourselves then as a guide. Great post!


  7. MMc

    The heart of the matter is always the heart! If the heart is not in good “working order” it can’t be used as the mechanism for navigating this powerful ability. The only way to be certain the heart is up to the task is to carefully monitor it for prejudice born of fear, envy, jealousy, discontent or any of the spirits that spoil it’s operational reliability. Wonderful post, thanks.


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