What power trip it is for many to judge the actions of others and make sweeping assumptions about a person’s character, values or being. For too many of us, applying our beliefs and values as a measuring stick by which we decide the quality of their being is far too commonplace. It begs the question:
What gives you the right to judge me?
Believe it or not, as Christians, the Bible gives us not just the right, but the responsibility. But wait, that power comes with a level of responsibility that most forget.
Yes, it states clearly, “judge not lest you be judged” in Matthew 7:1. We’ve all tossed around that verse like a police riot shield when hurtful barbs are carelessly tossed our way. When we see someone stumble, we start a downward spiral of ruin for them by spreading their shortcomings instead of extending a helping hand.
Most of us miss the rest of the instructions outlined in Matthew on how we are to approach the task of judging others. In the verse that follows, we are told “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” That’s pretty heavy stuff. How many of us have the courage to use the same harsh and judgmental standards on ourselves that we apply to others? God doesn’t mince words here: your ruler becomes your measure.
I’ve been guilty of judging others and the victim of humanly judgment by those who would never hold themselves to the same standard. I cannot control the latter, but am wholly accountable for the former. As a work-in-progress toward an even more outrageously wonderful life, learning my responsibilities and accountabilities in judging myself and others is unfinished business.
Judging others requires knowing their entire situation and careful discernment of the facts. Some great tips on our responsibilities in judging others can be found here.
Until we know the complete story, how are we capable of correctly forming an opinion?
Nobody with a ‘log in his eye’ can see things clearly. He is dangerously low on discernment. And, since we all have this distorted perspective, we need either to be very humble or else leave judging to God alone. We have a moral responsibility to judge the moral behavior of others—but only if we are humbly aware that we will sometimes be dead wrong and never totally right. We must remember that our ability to judge is limited and that we, ourselves, one day, come under judgment.
Yes, go ahead and judge me. You are welcome to whip out your saintly stick and appoint yourself wholly (or is it holy?) capable of making unilateral decisions about who I am, the road I travel and the intentions of my actions. Just know that sharp stick with which you measure is the same one you hand to God to use on your own judgement day.
Just know, as you judge me, that I am focused on judging me and holding myself accountable for my words, deeds and actions. And trust me, doing it right is a full time job that keeps me on the path toward and outrageously wonderful eternal life!