5 Keys to Improve Judgment

5 Keys to Improve Judgment

Today, I offer concrete strategies to improve judgment, helping us make solid decisions in virtually every area of our lives. To be honest, I acknowledge that I’ve been working to improve this area as well.

A few weeks ago (on one of those frigid, windy, -30-degree days), I purchased a “small” palm plant. Our future held no possibility of sunny vacations to sandy beaches with warm lazy days in the sun. So, I bought a little something green to bring home. Only it wasn’t so little! I didn’t realize just how large my “small” purchase was until I brought it into our cozy condo, thereby exposing my error in judgment. When I showed my daughter-in-law, she laughed and said, “That is HUGE!”

A few years ago, another daughter-in-law and I checked pasture fences. As we walked along, we heard rustling in the tall grass. I whispered, “Ah! A bunny!” I gently pulled the grass aside to see a skunk inches away from my feet. Cautiously, I backed away. After running for our lives, we laughed hysterically at my gross error in judgment.

I recently decided my daughters-in-law will not be allowed to contribute to my obituary after I die. Otherwise, everyone would need handfuls of tissues to hold back tears of laughter from the stories they could tell.

Seriously though, we would all be wise to develop our ability in making sound judgments.

#1 Seek Wisdom

This morning, I was reading in Proverbs 9. Both “wisdom” and “folly” hold similar positions on the “highest point of the city.” Both call to those passing by to “turn aside” to their direction. The resulting outcomes stood in direct contrast.

“For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you …”
Proverbs 9:11-12

True wisdom begins with God and leads to understanding.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Proverbs 9:10

However, the choice of “folly” leads to multiple layers of death.

The first key to improve judgment begins by rooting and grounding ourselves in the ways of God. Out of His surpassing wisdom flows sound judgment.

#2 Honest Self-Evaluation

After first seeking wisdom from God, we must honestly evaluate ourselves. Any hidden motives or agendas, sources of envy or jealousy, and areas of pride or arrogance will warp and hinder judgment. To develop the necessary skills to improve judgment demands a deeper, honest approach.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Romans 12:3

Sheltered in the grace and goodness of our Loving Heavenly Father, He liberates us to evaluate ourselves honestly without condemnation or comparison. Personal insecurities evaporate in His unfailing love.

With an accurate concept of God, seeking His wisdom, and a realistic view of ourselves, God frees us to make solid judgments about people and things.

#3 Consecration

The preceding verses in Romans also carry gems for us. The first is the consecration of ourselves to God and His ways.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.”
Romans 12:1

What does this have to do with judgment? Everything!

As we continually recognize God’s mercy toward us, every judgment becomes grounded on His mercy! Through consecration, we offer every aspect of ourselves to Him — our hearts, minds, tongues, hands, feet …

How radically different judgments and decisions become when we lay every area on the altar of complete consecration to God! At the place of consecration, we view people and things in a much different light.

#4 Transformation and Renewal

God resists instantly transforming us, eradicating old patterns of thinking and conditioned behavior. Rather, He enters a partnership of transformation and renewal with each of us. As we surrender and commit ourselves to Him in ever deepening circles of faith and trust, He works with us and through us to bring radical change. Old patterns evaporate. New patterns form.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2

Rather than a suggestion, He straight up commands us to unite with Him in the process — however messy it might be.

Hidden in this passage we find the key. In the transformation and renewal, God improves our judgment to discover “his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Isn’t that what we desire for ourselves and others?

#5 Improve Judgment

My humorous illustrations demonstrate lack of judgment. Unfortunately, all situations I stumble through aren’t funny. But honestly, to improve judgment we need an ability to take God a lot more seriously and ourselves much more lightly.

When we hit the high mark, rejoice! When we miss it, move on! But either way, let’s keep seeking God for the insight we need. After acknowledging and confessing our failures, let’s give ourselves the grace and space to learn from mistakes and step back on track.

Don’t allow the enemy to taunt, “What were you thinking? Were you thinking?”

Rather,

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.”
Lamentations 3:40

God is so much bigger than any past failures. He comes beside us, guiding us into better living, mastering how to make solid judgments. So let’s develop a resilience that allows us to laugh a little more often as we seek His wisdom, evaluate ourselves honestly, consecrate ourselves completely, and co-partner with Him to bring transformation and renewal.

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Laughter is Good Like a Medicine! It is Time to Laugh!

Laughter is Good Like a Medicine! It is Time to Laugh!

Solomon, the wisest man who lived, said laughter is good. Just as good as medicine! Tell that to the 1150-billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry! Perhaps with a little more chuckling, those figures might drop!

Let’s face it, the cares of this world easily rob us of joy.

“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:4

Laughter is contagious! Few can hold back a smile when deep, belly laughter erupts. I’m not talking about the kind that is serrated with sarcasm, barbed with ridicule, or is a satirical stab. Just that free unrestrained joy in the present.

It is Good!

Let’s look at the “good” hidden in this joyful behaviour.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
Proverbs 17:22

Laughter is like medicine

“Medicine” means “a healing and cure“. Several studies declare a cheerful attitude can improve the outcome of even the most serious illness.

One commentary says laughter makes good recovery!”  I like that! Even when ailments inflict, a good recovery sounds promising! If a “good recovery” includes healthier hearts, relaxed bodies, and boosted immune systems, then laughter delivers.

Believe it or not, joy is a personal choice — a way of “recovering”. Choosing joy creates a perspective that can make a big difference.

A few years ago, a difficult swirl threatened to engulf me. Every morning God encouraged “Choose joy!” So each day before my feet hit the floor, I agreed with God’s view and aligned my thinking.

That decision prevented the dysfunctional atmosphere from drowning me emotionally.  Joy kept strength from being “sapped”!  To “sap” here means “to be ashamed, confused, disappointed, to dry up, and wither.” 

Was it easy? Certainly not!

Was it possible? By God’s grace, yes!

It is Godly

Do you know that God laughs? Discovering God’s response to situations will change our own view of things.

“The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.”
Psalm 37:12-13

We have an enemy intentionally stealing, killing and destroying everything he can. He specifically targets our joy!

Laugh! I am!

Recently, I was feeling the intensity of an onslaught.  Problems of all sorts were hitting hard: physically, financially, relationally, and spiritually. The enemy’s thrusts worked overtime in the lives of those I love and are close to.

During prayer, I felt God prompt, “Why don’t you laugh? I am!”

So, I did! First strained and loudly! Then authentic laughter rolled naturally from some deep recess.

First, it was an act of obedience. Then I remembered I have a lot to laugh about. The enemy is still “gnashing his teeth” at us, but he was

crushed at the cross,
defeated on resurrection morning,
rendered powerless by the blood,
and sentenced to destruction.

Laughter is good! It reminds me the enemy’s “day is coming” when God brings justice. It produces alignment with God’s attitude, in some way bringing heaven’s glory to earth.

A time to laugh!

Strength

In Nehemiah’s day, the exiles returned after a long banishment to re-establish their homes. Under Ezra’s instruction,

“They read from the Book of the Law of God,
making it clear and giving the meaning
so that the people understood
what was being read.”
Nehemiah 8:8

The grief-stricken people realized that disobedience to God brought about their captivity.

Mourning sounds logical to me! Countless times, I’ve been on my face distressed over the contradiction between my attitudes, words or conduct and God’s holiness. Reading “the book” puts things into perspective!

Joy in the Lord is strength

Nehemiah says something surprising under the circumstances,

“…This day is holy to our Lord.
Do not grieve,
for the joy of the LORD
is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10b

Sometimes we need encouragement to move from grief to joy, sorrow to gladness, or wailing to laughing. When they felt like grieving, Nehemiah reminded them, “Laughter is good!”

This word “strength” means “a place of safety and protection.”  It pictures standing on a solid rock, protected within a fortress, or secure in a strong defense.

A sports motto states, “The strongest offense is a powerful defense.”

God affirms that laughter implements both offensive and defensive action against Satan’s attacks.

Laughter is good! It creates a synergy between heaven and earth. Laughing at the enemy, no matter what his ploy, reminds me that God remains in control.

Laughing at Myself

I don’t purposely do incredibly foolish things! They spontaneously occur naturally and often! Laughter seems only logical in this moments.

A solid sense of self-worth releases me to laugh at my blunders and make light of my forgetfulness. Whether I have a particularly good day or not, my value securely resides with God alone.

Second, I demonstrate grace in even my ungraceful moments. I’m not what I used to be, but I sure haven’t arrived. Allowing myself time to laugh at my shortcomings liberates me to get up and try again.

Third, deliberately create time to laugh. It takes less energy to smile than to frown, I’m told.

Laugh together

Fourth, laugh at life! My father taught me well how to laugh during times of stress and pressure. He possessed an incredible ability to find a pool of joy in an ocean of despair.

Fifth, laugh at the past! I’m “getting long in the tooth”! Or in other words, I have more life behind me than ahead. Many situations threatened to crush me forever. By God’s grace, they served to refine me instead and in many ways make me stronger. Now, I smile in remembrance of those once painful times.

Life’s Journey

Pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem for the Jewish festivals sang the Songs of Ascent, Psalm 120-134. The priests also repeated them as they ascended the steps to the temple. One song declared at each step forward and upward.

Joy resonates throughout these psalms.

“I rejoiced with those who said to me,
Let us go to the house of the Lord.'”
Psalm 122:1

Songs triumphantly raised in praise to a God so faithful!

“We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 124:7-8

Laugh throughout life

Listen to this declaration of praise and rejoicing!

“When the LORD restored
the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
P
salm 126:1,2

And hear the promise!

I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.”
Psalm 132:15-16

If the pilgrims going to the temple praised God with rejoicing, perhaps I should take time to laugh as I journey through life’s course. If the priests sang praise while entering God’s presence, I’m thinking the same is important as I approach our Awesome God.

Laugh often!
https://www.facebook.com/glimpsesofgloryphotos

Have you captured the importance yet? Let’s all make today a time to laugh!

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Laughter – It’s Better Than Medicine! Choose Joy!

Laughter Better Than Medicine

Laughter is contagious! Laughter inspires us to let go of frets and worries engaging fully in the simplicity of life. Now that’s my kind of medicine!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
Proverbs 17:22

The word translated “medicine” [gehah] occurs nowhere else in the bible. Scholars believe it more accurately means “healing” or “relief.”

A Merry Heart

God Laughs

As nations conspire, people plot, and kings band together

“The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed,
saying, “Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.”
Psalm 2: 2-4

God’s laughter gives us the assurance that Christ will ultimately triumph over evil. Three times Revelation 4 tells us there is One who sits on the throne. Envisioning the King of all kings enthroned in majesty, I rest. He has not abdicated! All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him.

Laughter Exalts God

Each of us experiences, at one time or another, the barrenness of a desert place. Everyone knows the pain of difficult a season. Some more extreme than others! When we approach the other side, laugh!

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.”
Psalm 126: 2

Laughter

Joyous enthusiasm convicts nations, convincing them of God’s greatness and goodness to His people. Has God done something good for you? Remember and be filled with joy and laugh!

People around you will notice and ask the reason for your joy.  What a perfect opportunity to share what God has done.

Waiting for Laughter

Life doesn’t always throw us something to laugh at. What do we do then?

Nehemiah had been given permission to return to Jerusalem. Many years prior walls of protection crumbled, gates smouldered, and the stones of refuge scattered. With the help of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, Nehemiah rebuilt in fifty-two days what was impossible for decades.

The people gathered together listening intently to the reading of the Law. The realization of their sinfulness erupted in mourning and intense weeping.

Ezra, the Levites, and Nehemiah stopped the people from weeping and mourning.

“This day is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not mourn or weep.”
Nehemiah 8:5

Joy

Do overwhelming circumstances grip you today? Are you experiencing deep pain right now? The distance between today and your last good laugh may seem miles apart. Take hope!

“…Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.”
Psalm 30:5

Be encouraged! Morning always comes! In the presence of the Lord there is neither weeping, sorrow nor sadness. None! Just as He was present in the midst of the people of Nehemiah’s day, He is present with you today.

Joy Produces Strength

“…the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10

Nehemiah ties joy securely to strength. Strength here also means “fortified place, defence, fortress, or rock.” When we choose the position of joy we find strength that stands

  • against the assaults of the enemy
  • strong over condemnation from the Law
  • in the fullness of God’s promise toward us

Joy is Strength

Recently, I walked through a particularly difficult season that threatened to consume life, hope and peace. Every morning I was aware that God was granting me the option to choose joy. Daily joy was a deliberate decision, a purposeful intent. Joy became my personal fortress in the midst of intense struggle. The Rock of joy withstood!

Laughter isn’t just child’s play! Its good for us all! Let’s get serious about joy!

Laughter just might prove to the best medicine after all.

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For further reading:

Great Trials Matched by Great Joy – James 1 Perspective