Note: If you’re not a Christian, I would like to apologize. Christians have often been judgmental and sometimes very outspoken about it, but that’s not an accurate depiction of Jesus. I’m sorry that you’ve been judged and made to feel unworthy in the past. Please don’t let these interactions dissuade you from the joy and peace Jesus offers. The life he has to offer truly is the best possible life. Read his words to find out.
Lately I’ve been seeing how utterly pervasive judgement is in our lives, and how it can do so much damage, so quickly.
We sum things up in a quick moment with the information we have available, which is good in some scenarios. For example, in a bad part of town in the middle of the night, you might want to make a judgement and act on said judgement to stay safe. In this case, the judgement leads to an immediate decision point.
But there are a lot of scenarios, I especially see them in Christian circles, where no there is no decision that needs to be made. Instead, there is just judgement against a person, culture, society, or group of persons.
I was having a terrific conversation with a friend of mine this weekend who isn’t a believer, but was telling me about how some of his friends got so mixed up in drugs that he has a very hard time not having animosity and strong judgement toward anyone who is addicted to heroine. His preoccupation in this conversation was not about heroine [although it did bother him very much], it was about his judgement of those who are addicted. He recognized that judgement in his heart and wanted to exercise a discipline to remove it. He mentioned volunteering his time at support organizations to assist these people, and hopefully remove the stigma and distain he felt.
What I found refreshing about this young man’s perspective was his recognition that his view of each person was affected by the group as a whole, and his negative experiences in it. His harsh judgement of heroine addicts is keeping him from showing love to one addict.
Maybe it’s the decisions people have made that keeps you from accepting them as God sees them. Maybe it’s dumb decision after dumb decision, a series of poor choices that has caused an individual to squander potential. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Here’s why:
Our pastor came up with a very good phrase to keep in mind:
No Verdict Required.
If you find yourself heading down a path of judgement, you feel the familiar tension of looking down at another person, ask yourself, is there a decision that needs to be made here? Am I at this moment involved in judging another one of God’s children in a way that is not accurate to how God sees them?
If the answer is yes, think of this: What were you before you came to God? What would you be without Him?
Jesus tells us in Matthew:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
These words are familiar even to unbelievers, but sadly, this narrative is still not lived out among people that call themselves Christians, instead they look more like the pharisees that crucified Christ than Christ himself.
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome saying:
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt?For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat
As long as you look at another individual in judgement, you won’t see them as a child of God.
Each individual is worthy of mercy, love, grace and forgiveness. All of Jesus’ teachings, including his interactions with what would be considered scumbags and losers, point to this, see: “Do to others as you would have them do to you“, “Love your enemy“, the good Samaritan, the parable of the prodigal son, and Zacchaeus the tax collector to name a few.
When you can’t see an individual as God sees them, you will never be able to glorify God.
In the same way that our own self-righteousness keeps us from coming to God, it keeps us from seeing others come to God.
God loves you, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. He also loves your neighbor, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. You should celebrate and embrace both of these facts, in that order. Preferably sooner than later.
- Stop trying to use judgement to modify the behavior of others.
- Stop using judgement to allow you to be right about the rest of the world.
- Stop judging others so that you can feel better about yourself.
- Is there a verdict required?
- Why am I so judgmental of those people?
- How does my judgement of them affect the way I feel toward them?
Lastly, picture God like this: