Don’t judge me!”: It is the perfect foil to deflect any difference of opinion that might be offered from others. Somehow we have accepted the idea that to judge something or someone is unacceptable. However, having the ability to judge is critical to just about everything we do! It is crucial to be able to judge behaviors, outcomes and consequences in order to avoid those situations for ourselves. The ability to judge has both a negative and a positive application.
I think where we often feel justified in telling others to “not judge” is from the Bible itself:
“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
That seems pretty straight forward but is there more we might consider? The best way to interpret scripture is by scripture itself. What we might need to do is, see what else Jesus instructed us on the subject:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
So, the point is not that we are forbidden to judge one another when needed, but to avoid hypocrisy. We should judge ourselves first and then address any perceived shortcomings in others. We should also avoid judgmentalism which is defined as: “having or displaying an excessively critical point of view.”
To avoid judgmentalism and hypocrisy, we must look to a standard above our own. The Bible is the Word of God and it contains such a standard. We can judge outcomes and behaviors by the standard God’s Word provides. Jesus also goes on to say:
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
What does it mean to “judge with righteous judgment”? We could begin by first applying righteous judgment to our own outcomes and behaviors. We all have work to do when it comes to keeping ourselves in alignment with the standards of the Word of God! Having that in mind, when it does become necessary, we should share any insights into what God will judge us for with empathy and understanding instead of harsh and mean-spirited accusations.
Conflict and confrontation are usually not things we enjoy, but when necessary, we need to treat each other with kindness and respect, guided by the Word of God first tested on ourselves and then to others.
Rev. Stephen Brown ministers at Kenai New Life Assembly of God. Visit Kenainewlife.org.