Have you ever met anyone called to the unique “ministry” of judging others? I’ve been around people so gifted in identifying sin in the lives of others that it was difficult to see a need for Jesus in their own life because their path was seemingly so straight and narrow. The only clue that sin may be in the life of those called to this ministry of judging others is the huge banner that hovers over their head everywhere they go. It reads, “Don’t judge me by my appearance. The sin is in my heart. Do you hear it coming out of my mouth?”
It would be safe to say that all people have been guilty of judging others at some point. I can’t speak for everyone, but I would suspect that it’s true. I have found from experience that being wrongfully judged, or even rightfully judged, can be very painful. I can also say that being judged by Christians has been more painful than being judged by those who do not know Him. The purpose of this post is not to judge, but to shed light on what it means to judge others so that we can get it into perspective and grow together as believers. I only share this post because I have been that Christian judge and it was humbling to learn more about me through His Word.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Mathew 7:1-3 NIV)
Plenty of topics in scripture are debatable. However, judging others is not one of those disputable subjects. When Jesus said the words in the scripture above, he was talking to His disciples while standing on a mountainside. During the course of his teaching, many more people began to gather around and listen to what he was saying. This is similar to what we have happening in this post. Some who are reading this right now are already disciples of Jesus Christ and this message is first of all for them. Others reading this might not be sure about Jesus, but are simply listening in and curious—they have heard of Him, but do not know Him personally. I should also mention that when Jesus was teaching on this topic, some people in the crowd were searching for an opportunity to attack him. Jesus’s message was also for them.
When we receive Jesus and repent of our sins, we are no longer judged for those sins: As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12 NIV). Given that we have all fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), this should be a comforting truth. At the same time, if we judge others, we too will be judged. So to judge someone else’s sin is to also bring the judgment of God on those doing the judging.
Some people might say, “Well, I don’t have a plank in my own eye, so this scripture isn’t talking about me.” Fortunately, God already thought of that of that response. You see, judging others is an act disobedience to God. Read the Matthew 7 passage again! “Do not judge”—period. If a child of God is judging another person’s sin, that’s a clear clue that they have a plank in their eye.
We extend to others the same measure of mercy and grace that we ourselves experience as given to us by God. If we are truly repentant, then we will look past others’ sins just as Jesus looked past our sins. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17 NIV). This is the love of God: to love people who do not deserve it. Withdrawing love and then judging people in their weakness is not love. Judging people in their sin is the same thing as kicking someone while they are down.
So what is really going on when Christians judge the world or judge one another for their sin?
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12 ESV)
Notice that the fourth word in James 4:11 is “evil.” When one person judges another, evil is coming out of their mouth. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV). No matter how we look at this scripture, we speak what is in our hearts. If we judge others for their sin, we do so because sin is in our own heart. If evil can even come out of our mouth, it was first in our heart. If you truly wish to know what’s in someone’s heart, simply listen to him or her talk.
Sadly, many Christians think that because they have become righteous in their own mind, then they have the right to judge others in their moments of weakness. The truth is that when someone judges another person, whether the person is a Christian or not, they are only telling the world what’s in their own heart. “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5 NIV). The simple fact that someone is judging another person makes him or her a hypocrite. Don’t get mad at me! This was Jesus talking!
I do not bring this teaching up to judge those who judge. As a Christian, I have been guilty of judging people. I only bring this up because I have been there as a blind Christian, and I’m glad that I have grown in my faith to the point where I can mostly look past people’s sin. We don’t have to love the sin to love the person. Love was what I needed when I was bound in sin. I needed someone to love me through it. We can love people into freedom. That’s how Jesus Christ first loved us. It is our choice to accept His love that sets us free!
I’ll close with a really cool concept God taught me when I truly began to love Him. I didn’t understand why or how it was even possible to love Jesus, because I couldn’t see Him. I was studying His Word and repenting of my sin, and at the same time, I was falling more and more in love with Him, but I just didn’t understand how. It finally clicked when I read Luke 7:36-47 (NIV):
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
This seems backward, doesn’t it? But reading this story helped me begin to understand why I was falling more and more in love with Jesus: because I was walking in repentance. It’s impossible to love Him if our sins have not been covered. According to the Bible, this is the only way to explain why people fall in love with Jesus Christ. People do not love Him because they finally get their act together and become perfect. We love Jesus because of our canceled debt. The love we have for Jesus has nothing to do with what we do for Him or who we have become. We love Jesus because of who He is and what he has done for us.
I hope that you have found encouragement in this post. Sometimes it’s not easy to talk about the more difficult topics. I have found that it’s easier for me to discuss the tough topics when I have first been found guilty in my own life. As the apostle Paul said, And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort (2 Corinthians 1:7 NIV).
Thanks for listening! 🙂