It’s not an overstatement to say that the church has a “judgement” problem. A big one, at that!
In fact, in a book that was published in 2017, a ground-breaking study by the Barna Group revealed that approximately 9 out of 10 unchurched people indicate that one of their greatest fears about “church people” — one of the reasons they stay away from churches — is the fear that they’ll be JUDGED. Nearly 9 out of 10 unchurched young adults view Christians as being JUDGMENTAL, followed by being HYPOCRITICAL and ANTI-GAY. That’s part of our baggage and we often deserve it.
Judgmentalism is a really common “religiously transmitted disease." Just hang out with religious people long enough and you’re certain to catch the “judge somebody else” virus.
Let me be clear, judgmentalism isn’t just a “Christian people” problem, it’s a PEOPLE problem. Apart from grace, we’re all prone to put on the judge’s robe and drop the judges gavel on people in our lives that we don’t think quite measure up.
We judge the people we work with.
We judge the people we go to school with.
We judge entertainers.
We judge athletes — college and pro.
We judge politicians and presidents.
We even -- or maybe especially -- judge the people in our own family.
Judgmentalism isn’t just a problem you have. It’s a problem I have. Pastors can be incredibly judgmental.
In Matthew 7, Jesus addressed this issue of judging people head on. This may be the second most quoted verse in the Bible:
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. —Matthew 7:1 NLT
People quote this verse that don’t even believe in the Bible!
Anybody ever felt the sting of someone judging you?
Maybe it was over your appearance? You wear skinny jeans and your friend thinks skinny jeans are only for narcissistic people who probably have an eating disorder. They judged you.
Maybe it was over your political opinion or party affiliation? This swings in a number of directions.
Maybe it was over the color of your skin?
Maybe it was over a word you used they judged as vulgar or obscene?
Judgmentalism is the basis for all kinds of problems: racism, sexism, classism, and all kinds of other "-isms".
This is why Jesus said: Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. —Matthew 7:1
The Passion Translation reads: Refuse to be a critic.
Jesus said, “Refuse to be a critic. That’s not in the job description of a kingdom citizen. There is a judge and you’re not HIM! Don’t give in to the temptation to be a critic! You’ve got more important things to do!”
When I say the following names, what immediately comes to your mind?
Do any of you personally know any of these people? Has anyone ever had a personal conversation with any of those individuals? Anyone have a basis other than tabloid or actual news for making the assessments we all just made about those individuals?
JUDGING is something we do almost EVERY DAY! We do it with INCOMPLETE and sometimes totally INCORRECT INFORMATION. We do it to other people without even thinking about it, but we HATE IT when someone judges US!
I love the way The Message translates Matthew 7:1-2:
Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. —Matthew 7:1-2 MSG
A BOOMERANG is a device that you throw out and is designed to return to the thrower.
Matthew 7:1-2 contains a BOOMERANG PRINCIPLE. Jesus said, “This is the way judgement and criticism work. If you throw it out, it’s going to BOOMERANG! It’s coming back! It may not come back now. It may not come back next week. But you can bank on it. The way you JUDGE OTHERS is going to set the bar for the way others JUDGE YOU.”
For you’ll be judged by the same standard that you’ve used to judge others. The measurement you use on them will be used on you. —Matthew 7:2 TPT
If you’re going to be judged by the same standard you use to judge others? If the measurement you use on other people is going to be used on you? How do you want to be judged?
The first response, “Dude, don’t judge me at all! It hurts. But if you’re going to judge me, please judge me from a posture of love, grace and mercy. Take into account my family of origin. Take into account the past garbage I had to crawl out of on my way to this moment in time. Take into account all of the insecurities and idiosyncrasies I still struggle with. Take into account how far I’ve come. Take into account that I may not be all that I want to be but I thank God I’m not what I used to be. If you’re going to judge me, judge me from a position of love, grace and mercy!”
If that’s the way we want to be judged, Jesus says, “That’s the standard you need to use for the people you think about judging.”
The next time you’re tempted to criticize and judge, choose to respond with grace, prayer and love.
It’s interesting that the word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 is a neutral word. It simply means “to separate, pick out, select or choose.” We all have to make moral decisions and exercise discernment on a daily basis. That’s not a bad thing! That’s not what Jesus is correcting.
The kind of judgement Jesus is lowering a sledge hammer on is whenever we take a position of superiority over another person made in the image of God. Jesus is talking about our tendency to allow a kind of critical attitude to seep into our minds and hearts, so that we assume the absolute WORST about other people — about their attitudes, actions, words, behavior, etc. Instead of allowing our attitudes and opinions to be shaped and formed by the unconditional, extravagant and reckless love the Father has for us, we allow them to be shaped by our own fears, suspicions, insecurities and even the evil one himself.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m not walking in the Spirit, my mind can become the playground of the evil one!
It’s interesting that Jesus hung out with an incredibly diverse group of people. People who were nothing like Jesus actually seemed to like Jesus.
I think one of the reasons that unchurched, irreligious people liked Jesus was that they never felt judged, criticized or condemned by Jesus. Jesus didn’t look at the people who came to him and say: “You’re an adulterer… You’re a cheater and tax collector… You’re a hothead… You’re a know-it-all… Or, you’re a crook…”
Jesus didn’t LABEL people. He LOVED them.
That’s worth repeating; Jesus didn’t LABEL people. He LOVED them.
So stop being critical and condemning of other believers… —Romans 14:13 TPT
That’s pretty straight forward!
Check out James 4:11-12b:
Dear friends, as part of God’s family, never speak against another family member,
Wait a second, Chris! Doesn’t it add, “Except when you feel justified?” Doesn’t it add, “Except when it’s really important?” Doesn’t it read, “Only when someone has offended you?” There are no caveats or exceptions. Read it again!
Dear friends, as part of God’s family, never speak against another family member,
This is important: you don’t have to say everything that pops into your mind. In fact, you’re growing in wisdom when you gain the ability to put a muffler on your mouth.
…never speak against another family member, for when you slander (we don’t think of it that way, but God does) a brother or sister you violate God’s law of love… And your duty is not to make yourself a judge… There is only one true Lawgiver and Judge…
And you and I are not Him…
…The One who has the power to save and destroy—so who do you think you are to judge your neighbor? —James 4:11-12 TPT
I can’t be 100% objective. I can’t know a person’s motives and heart. I’m limited.
God’s job is to judge. My job is to LOVE.
Billy Graham said it like this: “The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict. God’s job is to judge. Our job is to love.”
Check out Romans 14:4:
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?
In other words, “The person you’re judging doesn’t belong to you and isn’t accountable to you. They belong to God.”
To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. —Romans 14:4
I love the last line in Romans 14:4. Paul says, “We’re all going to one day stand before God, and here’s what I choose to believe about you: You’re not going to fall. You’re not going to fail. But you’re going to stand. I choose to believe the best about you!”
QUESTION: Is that the way you relate to the people you’re in relationship with? The people you go to church with? The people in your office? The family member who regularly ticks you off? Do you relate to people based on your own suspicions and insecurities, or do you relate to them based on your trust and faith in God’s ability to finish the work He has started in their lives?
Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? —James 4:11-12 MSG
Anybody think the Bible is serious about the way we tend to size people up and write people off?
Seven Signs That You Are Judging Others:
1. You’re more enraged at someone else’s sin than you are embarrassed by your own.
2. You refuse to forgive or when you forgive you refuse to forget.
3. You size people up and cut them off when they disagree with you. “We can’t be friends if we disagree.” But the biblical pattern is that we’re called to love the PERSON more than we love our POSITION.
4. You refuse to receive correction.
5. You refuse to provide correction to a close friend in an attitude of love.
6. You share gossip. You involve people in a problem who aren’t part of the problem and can’t be part of the solution.
7. You write people off as hopeless.
Remember: The next time you’re tempted to criticize and judge, choose to respond with GRACE, PRAYER and LOVE.