Luke 6:37 (New Living Translation)
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.
Judgment is a tricky subject for Christians. On the one hand, we are told to be wise to the ways of evil and mindful of how our hearts can be influenced by false teachings and cultural values that lead us away from God. On the other hand, we are not to put ourselves in the place of God and judge one another. The judging habit Jesus condemns in this passage is not the wise discernment necessary to avoid acting in wicked ways but is rather the petty and arrogant condemnation of others.
Such judgment is not rooted in the desire to please God, nor is it rooted in loving concern for another, although we may disguise it as such and couch our criticism in “loving” language. The kind of judging Jesus condemns is rooted in pride and the need to elevate ourselves at the expense of another person. It is not surprising that those who are quick to judge others are often quick to feel themselves judged—they are easily offended, keenly sensitive to criticism, and heavily invested in deflecting shame away from themselves. They derive satisfaction, even comfort and relief, from pointing out another’s guilt when it makes them look better by comparison.
Who are we to judge other people’s motives, as if we can look into their hearts or read their minds? Why do we think we know what God wants from others or how he is working in their lives? What can another person’s righteousness—or unrighteousness—have to do with me?
If we look to the root of our judging habit, we will probably discover fear and insecurity about our own worth and the rightness of our own behaviors.
When we are tempted to judge others, we might ask ourselves, How could exposing this person’s flaw or error somehow benefit me? The answer might lead us to a fear or flaw in ourselves that we can surrender to God’s judgment and ultimate healing.
FATHER, I confess I have often usurped your sovereign authority and assumed the role of judge over my neighbors. I am ashamed to think how I have hurt others and created conflict because of my arrogant and unfair assumptions. Forgive me for my habit of pointing a finger at others so I can keep my own flaws and insecurities hidden. Help me overcome this habit of judging others and learn to love and forgive them instead.
Matthew 18:9-14; James 4:11-12
What are your “hot buttons” or issues about which you are most prone to judge your neighbor?