It’s early in the morning. I just made myself a cup of coffee, and now I am sitting at my kitchen table to write to you. The other day I read a scripture about not judging others, one that so many believers do not take seriously. I would like to share with you a few thoughts on this subject. Jesus said: “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it shall be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1–2).
The Bible is given to us for our instruction and correction (see 2 Timothy 3:16). God clearly told us in His Word how we should live on this earth as His children. He gave us moral laws to keep and instructions for our personal walk with God, marriage, family, raising children, work, church, missions and our conduct in society.
God’s Word is the foundation for our Christian lives and is the measuring rod by which we must evaluate ourselves and everything we encounter in this world as well. Following God’s instructions guides us safely through all the dangers of this fallen world and protects us from wrong decisions. Even if we have taken a wrong turn, God’s Word will correct us and put us back on the right path.
We like to measure and judge the spirituality and performance of other believers. We use what we have learned from the Bible as a measuring rod to highlight the faults of other believers and pass judgment on them. We find their speech and behavior not dignified enough, their prayers too lengthy, their spiritual understanding too shallow, their home too fancy or too unkempt, their dress and hairstyle too worldly and their children not as well behaved as ours.
How does it look when we judge others? We are irritated by their behavior, and we condemn them in our hearts. We try to correct them by criticizing or scolding them without truly caring for them. We don’t consider their circumstances and have no real compassion or love for them. We get together with other believers and discuss their wrong behavior, inappropriate clothing or lack of spirituality, while we lift up our own righteousness and excellent performance.
Why does Christ not want us to judge others? Because:
We will be judged by God with the same measure we judge others (see Matthew 7:1–2). The truth is, we often condemn others for the very same things we do ourselves, but we justify our behavior with explanations and excuses.
When we judge, we elevate ourselves above others, and pride and self-righteousness take hold of our heart.
We forget that it is only God’s grace, and nothing in ourselves, that keeps us from making the very same mistakes.
When we judge others, we destroy the opportunity to speak into their lives and help them change.
Our judgment may not be accurate! We may have added our own cultural interpretations and religious traditions to what God’s Word actually says. This was the mistake the Pharisees made. They burdened people with their many extra laws and regulations (see Mark 7:13).
The person we judge may be a new believer who loves the Lord dearly but has not yet had time to grow in his faith. It is totally unfair of us to judge him by what took us 5, 10 or 20 years to learn. Our judgment will discourage this new believer and harm his spiritual development.
So what should we do when others don’t measure up?
Don’t condemn, criticize or scold them in order to change their performance. True change must always come from the heart; otherwise, the “godly” behavior we scolded them into is only a façade.
Don’t discuss their shortcomings and failures with other believers. Love them enough not to make them the subject of gossip. Instead, seek to cover their failures. If you get any satisfaction out of discussing others’ weaknesses, it proves that you lack love for them. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Show them compassion and mercy like Jesus did when He dealt with others’ failures. I guarantee you that the time will come when you will make mistakes and will need others’ compassion and mercy. “As those who have been chosen of God, . . . put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other” (Colossians 3:12–13).
Pray for them diligently, and allow the Lord to fill you with His love for them.
Take them aside privately and talk to them without condemnation. Show them from the Word of God where they fall short. Teach, correct and counsel them with love and gentleness. Encourage them and build them up instead of tearing them down. Pray with them.
If you find they have a problem that is too difficult for you to counsel, put them in contact with an experienced pastor or a mature believer who can help them.
Teach them godly behavior by your example rather than by your many words (see 1 Timothy 4:12). You only qualify to teach and correct others if you live in public and private what you proclaim.
Seek to be a friend and mentor whom they can trust and love rather than a judge who passes sentence on them.
If you practice these things in your church or Bible study group, you will see many positive changes in your life and the lives of others.
May God’s peace be with you always.
Your sister in Christ,