You may be more familiar with the translation, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” It’s funny- that phrase is even common in the secular world. It’s thrown out there like a catch phrase or a wise, old adage that is easily dismissed. But Friends, it’s Biblical, and it’s a valuable truth that we need to internalize.
We are far too judgmental in our society.
It’s tough not to get defensive when we hear that. Our hearts ache a bit, and say, “Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to hear that.” That’s because judging others comes so naturally to us. It really can make us feel better about ourselves by distracting us temporarily from our own short comings. Albert Camus wrote about this phenomenon in his existentialist book, The Fall. The main character went around judging people to elevate himself as a person (hiding himself from his introspection). When we imagine ourselves turning our noses up at a person because of how they dress, or considering someone to be sub-human because of his or her beliefs, it seems absurd. Of course that’s wrong. But in our day-to-day lives, when we really start to watch for a spirit of judgment or condemnation in our actions, words, and most importantly, our thoughts, we begin to realize very quickly that judging others can present a real problem.
Love and Judgment
You can’t really love someone if you’re judging him or her. What does Jesus say is the second greatest commandment? “.Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39 NLT) There’s no stipulation to that. It doesn’t say to love your neighbor as yourself UNLESS ___________ [you fill in the blank]. God loves everyone equally. He loves the racist, hateful man as much as your favorite pastor. God loves gay people.
Now, God doesn’t love racism, hate, or homosexuality. On Judgment Day, if those people’s sins aren’t atoned for by having accepted the free gift of Christ’s salvation, then He will judge them, and God will allow them to be condemned for their sin.
Do you see yourself mentioned anywhere in the previous paragraph? No, except that you too will stand before God to be judged some day.
Do you see yourself mentioned in that scripture? Yes!
This message may have a bit of a condescending tone to it. I apologize for that, but this is a message that fights against what everything else in the world teaches us. We are prodded to be judgmental at every turn. Take a hard look at the following, and see if you don’t find a judgmental spirit being fostered there:
- American Idol and many other reality-T.V. shows (I.E. Real World, Fear Factor, etc.)
- Movie magazines (I.E. Premiere, Entertainment Weekly, etc.)
- Gossip based magazines (I.E. People Magazine, and others.)
- Fashion magazines
- Advertisements for clothing, automobiles, and other possessions
- Secular rap music
- The list could go on and on…
I’m not saying that all of these things revolve around a judgmental spirit, but it certainly rears its ugly head frequently. Be very careful about how often you expose yourself to those types of media.
Even beyond the media, be wary of hanging around people who are very judgmental. Gossip is the Siamese twin of a judgmental spirit. If you value the blessings of God, and want to have a close relationship with God, avoid gossip like the plague! You should literally remove yourself from any gossiping conversation the minute it starts up. Say, “Hey, I don’t want to talk about people when they’re not here. Let’s talk about something else.” Obviously, you shouldn’t expect the people that you’re with to just shrug and change the subject, but that’s a good thing. It will give you a chance to share your faith. You’ll also notice that those same people will respect and trust you more in the long run because they’ll realize that you’re the real deal – you’re not being hypocritical about loving unconditionally. Or they might say, “Get lost, then!” But hey, Christians suffer. Praise God that you were able to stand up for your faith!
If you work around non-believers that gossip all the time despite your protests – PRAY. Ask for the Lord to guard your heart against the spirit of judgment. Pray for your coworkers. Jesus loves them, and they’re caught in a net that only God can rescue them from. Pray for their freedom, and do so with passion.
The Spirit of Judgment is Spiritual Poison
We have to realize that God isn’t just telling us to be nice when he tells us not to judge people. He’s telling us this because that sort of callous heart is a harsh slavery that He wants us to be free from. Moreover, He wants to take the burden of judgment away from us so that we can have a more abundant life. Think of it this way: Judgment is God’s job. When we judge someone, we’re taking on God’s job. God is an omnipotent being of infinite power. You’re just you. Do you really think that you can handle doing the job of an omnipotent God? You can’t. You weren’t designed to handle it.
Instead, God wants us to be pure and innocent inside. Think of a child that is unafraid of a cranky old man or a disfigured person. It’s as if the child is blind to the condition that might make other, older people steer clear. God wants us to be that innocent, so that even if we notice that a person is mentally challenged, gay, hyper-religious, ugly, insecure, obnoxious, or whatever, we love them anyway. We don’t have to like them. This scripture about not judging others isn’t saying that we have to be buddies with everyone. The Bible says that we are to love them and that we are not to judge them.
We are robbed of God’s peace when we’re caught up in a judgmental spirit. When God can fellowship with us closely, we get His peace that surpasses understanding, and life is SO GOOD. When we allow ourselves to start judging someone; when we stop operating in God’s love, we force God out of that close fellowship by hardening our hearts. That’s why we’ll notice that things aren’t quite right in our spiritual lives. Our peace is gone!
Help! I’m Already Trapped in Judgment.
Because judging people violates God’s second commandment for our lives, it is sin . As such, it tarnishes our spirits, and makes us less effective conduits for His work. We stop functioning as God would like us to, and our spirits sense that we’re just spinning our wheels in the muck of sin. That can lead to all sorts of spiritual and physical distress. If you find yourself in this situation, just do yourself a favor and earnestly repent. You’ll be miserable until you do.
One tricky thing about the sin of judging others – This is definitely one of those sins where God may convict you of sin and require you to confess your sin and ask for the forgiveness of the person who you were judging. Tough stuff, but unconfessed sin will fester inside of you until you’re more miserable than you’ve ever been. Once again, do yourself a favor – Get it over with, do it sincerely, and get back to God. When you’re back in fellowship with God, you’ll find that the sting of the sin and confession is gone, once again replaced with His peace.
So, if you’re stuck in the habit of judging others, if that is currently part of your attitude, start asking God to help you change that attitude. Make a conscious effort to remove yourself from things that will only encourage that wrong behavior. Ask God to give you more of His love to spread to everyone around you. Expect the Devil to make things extra hard for you when you’re trying to turn things around. Try reciting the scriptures in this message, and praise God during the hard times. Your time in worship will allow the Holy Spirit to break the hardened layers of judgment from your heart until it’s as soft as Jesus’ heart.