Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” (NIV)
Let’s talk about how easy it is to pass judgment on someone else. We do it all the time, right? If we see a mom in the store with loud and excited kids, we may think that she is doing a poor job of teaching her kids how to behave. Or, if we see a homeless man, we assume he has substance abuse issues.
I have been guilty of being extremely judgmental in the past, and it seems as if God always puts people in my path to challenge and change my perspective. Maybe the mom with loud kids is just overwhelmed and has chosen to choose her battles for the day. I know homeless men and women who became homeless because of a job loss or even domestic violence with no addiction problems whatsoever.
Offense We See In Others Often Mirrors Our Own Flaws
There was a time when I was on my soapbox about Millennials. I thought that all Millennials were lazy and had a false sense of entitlement. I felt that they did not want to work and had no respect for other people.
I would genuinely become upset just thinking about this subgroup of our population. One day in church my pastor told all of the Millennials to come to the altar for prayer. I thought to myself “Good, they need it.”
As people were going up to the altar, my pastor stated that the Millennial age group was people born 1981-1996. I was shocked to find out that I was a Millennial!
Talk about a sobering experience. My soapbox was destroyed. But, it was destroyed for a good cause. It was at this moment that I felt convicted about being judgmental, and I knew that I could not continue down that path.
God is the Only Righteous and Gracious Judge
This experience taught me that just like forgiveness is necessary for you to release bitterness and anger, giving grace is necessary so that you don’t form a pessimistic perspective towards all people.
Not giving grace can lead to viewing everyone with mistrust. I struggled with giving grace for a long time. I was a very judgmental person and did not realize the negative effects it was having on me mentally and emotionally.
I started to think the worse about most people. I was not able to show empathy towards others, nor did I feel that it was necessary; I felt that people got what they deserved no matter how good or bad their circumstances were.
Being judgmental became one of the traits I was known for without me realizing it. People would seek me out to tell me about a situation or a person because they knew I would offer my opinion on things that did not concern me. And, I started to feel a sense of uncomfortable pride in it. I knew that God was not pleased with my actions, but I was feeding off of the amusement and agreement of other people.
But, when I became convicted that day in church, I started to research and study my Bible more closely in the area of judging others. And, what I realized is that although God does call us to use wisdom and discernment, God does not call us to be judges of others’ hearts because He has that responsibility (1 Samuel 16:7). God calls us to show grace and mercy to others just as He shows grace and mercy to us.
So, What’s the Play Call?
First, we must humble ourselves before God and stop being more proud than we should be. 1 Peter 5:9 commands us to “clothe [y]ourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble’” (NIV). We must start giving grace to others and stop harshly judging. No one is perfect. So, no matter how great you think you are, God made us all in His image.
If someone’s actions are so horrifically unbelievable that we cannot fathom doing such a thing, do as Luke 6:36 says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (NIV). Regardless of the circumstances, we are to see people as our brothers or sisters in Christ who, like us, have made mistakes, but are trying their best to do the right thing. Begin looking for the good in people instead of pointing out their shortcomings. This applies even to people we see on social media or the stories we see on the news.
Start thinking and speaking of others in the way we are called to in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (NIV). In short, practice what your mom told you as a kid, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.