While this topic seems so hot right now, it is part of the human condition to judge others so I don’t think this problem in our psyches is a recent development. It’s been at the forefront of my mind as I examine some of my worst tendencies and how to correct them. One of those, unfortunately, is a tendency to judge others based on my opinions, beliefs, and values.
1 Corinthians 4:5 states the following: Don’t be judgmental about anyone “ahead of time – before the Lord returns. For He will bring our darkest secrets to light…”
Whoa. That’s the part we tend to forget as we think or talk about the faults of others. There is that niggling fear in the back of our minds, as Christians: what is He going to say about me, and will it be in front of a long line of people waiting to meet Him in heaven? That could prove a bit awkward!!
So what is judgment exactly, and how do we stay away from it? First, here are some things it is not:
- Judging is not being angry at someone for their sins. Feelings are feelings; you cannot control them. You can only control how you respond to them.
- Judging is not forcing someone who has committed a crime to pay their legal price.
- Judging is not confronting someone you care about, out of pure love and not hatred or spite or envy or malice, when they are sinning.
Here’s what judgment IS: Judgment is feeling superior to someone because of their sin, or their faults. And before you go rushing off to confront all the judgmental people in your life, stop and think: that’s a lot of people! And you’re on the list!
No? You don’t think so? Ok. Here are some normal, every-day ways we judge others:
- When someone commits a crime, we call them names: loser, idiot, reject, worthless. The worst criminal in the world is still God’s child.
- When someone does something sinful, such as engage in promiscuous sex, lie, cheat, steal – etc., we get on our high-horse. We tell ourselves (and possibly even that person) that we would never do such a thing! But hold up though – they could say equally bad things about you!
- When someone isn’t who we want them to be, we withhold love from them. The people I know who do this have themselves been in this situation, for things that were not at all their fault. Harsh, judgmental, critical people with unrealistic expectations often do this.
- Any time you think or say that someone isn’t good enough for you, you are judging that person. Jesus told us we are not to throw our pearls to swine. What that means is that we are open with love towards everyone, but protect your heart (your pearls) from people who only want to harm you. It doesn’t mean you are better than them, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t show them love. They may have done a really terrible thing, but throughout the course of your life you are going to do many sinful things, some of them really terrible.
- Private people tend to have hidden sins most people, if any, can’t see. It’s easy to point out the visible sins in others through spite. Don’t!