We often hear phrases like “stop judging me,” “you are so judgmental,” or “who am I to judge”.
It’s a shame that the word judge has gotten such a tarnished reputation. Ironically, those who think all judging is wrong have indeed made a judgment!
Perhaps the agenda against judgment has come from a misunderstanding of Matthew 7:1-2 where Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
This verse is commonly used out of context. Notice that Jesus does not prohibit judging but instead calls us to judge our own hearts before we judge others. I recognize at this point that you may be thinking, “Did he just imply that we should judge others?” Yes, I did. Before you jump to conclusions, read the rest of what Jesus said:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
There is great value in exercising judgment in others’ lives. Helping others in their deepest needs requires that we have an accurate judgment of their current situation. For instance, if you see a friend wearing the signs of drug addiction, love would compel you to share your concern with your friend. Of course, that would require a judgment.
Similarly, if you care about your co-worker, you would inquire if they seemed bothered or depressed. That again, would require a judgment.
And likewise, if your friend asked for your counsel in a difficult situation, you would ask questions and draw conclusions (judgments) from their answers. Nobody wants to receive counsel from someone who hasn’t taken the time to consider his or her problems with sound judgment.
When performed with a Christ-like attitude, judgment can be a useful, loving tool. So how do we ensure that we are judging from a Christ-like attitude? The answer, as Jesus stated, is to “take the log out of your own eye” first. Here are four takeaway thoughts to ensure that kind of judging:
#1 Judgment should be used to edify others and not to exalt self.
#2 When you notice faults in someone else’s life, change the focus to your own heart.
#3 Never judge someone else until you have judged your own heart and responded properly.
#4 When helping someone else with his or her problems, consistently come back to your own heart. Be on guard against pride and hypocrisy. They can easily blind you and cause you to make a bigger mess in someone else’s life.
Bottom line: Jesus’ words here are condemnation of hypocrisy rather than a condemnation of judgment. Further, if you say you care about a friend yet continue to ignore the sin destroying him or her, you are not really loving your neighbor.
Understanding the difference requires – you guessed it – judgement.