The word “judge” is a frightening word that everyone tries hard to avoid. It means that we have felt hurt after feeling judged, it means that we could be judged in the future, or it means that we have jumped to conclusions about other people and have done wrong by judging them. Whichever way you look at it, the verb “to judge” carries negative connotations. I have even heard, and spoken the words myself: “don’t judge me”. Whether these words have been spoken as a joke or not, we say those words to avoid people thinking thoughts about us that we know aren’t necessarily true.
Judging is the reason people say “it doesn’t matter what other people think, just be you.” It’s the reason that someone might get you to share a secret by saying “I promise I won’t judge you, just tell me”. It could even be the reason we are driven away from certain people.
It’s ALSO the reason criminals have been incarcerated, the reason the world becomes just a little bit safer – because without a judge, there would be no criminals blocked from our cities. A judge in a court room plays an interesting role in our society today – they make judgment calls every day and, as we all know, it is not always the right one. Sometimes the criminal is set free; sometimes an innocent is imprisoned. But without any judgement calls, there would be no law. And without law, our society would be chaotic.
So maybe there IS a positive side to judging.
Or maybe it’s just that the verb “to judge” is actually very different than making judgement calls. What I mean by making judgement calls is: coming to a decision about a certain situation using our judgmental skills.
It’s interesting that the very tool God gives us to make these judgement calls, we use to do the wrong kind of judging – God meant for judgement to be just and fair, yet we use our judgement not to make things fair, but to do things that are completely unfair. Lately, I have been reading several articles and posts declaring that people are so judgmental and need to stop, and it is saddening how Christians have been the ones that these articles are aimed at. It’s even more heartbreaking that these articles and posts are written towards Christians because people are seeing and feeling our judgement.
It’s true that nobody is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. It’s true that people have hurt other people by accident, with no intention. I know I have done that many times. People do this all the time because we are people and we mess up because it takes time to figure out other people and their sensitivities. However, it is especially hurtful and condescending when a person deliberately goes out of their way to belittle someone else. Perhaps because of race, gender, sexuality – even small things such as clothing choices, area of study, living accommodations, family members, and relationship status.
Now, I truly believe that whether we have unintentionally or intentionally hurt others, Jesus and His wonderful saving power can change us – we do not have to be forever bound by the hurts that others have caused us and we do not have to be bound by the hurt we have caused others because we have his amazing, beautiful, and eternal forgiveness through His death on the cross and His glorious resurrection.
And this is exactly why it is SO important for us to NOT judge others. “ Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (Romans 14:13 NIV). When people feel judged, they begin to feel self-conscious, embarrassed, insecure, confused, even hated.
In today’s day and age, Christians are being watched and listened to closely – people are eager to hear the truth about Jesus. However, the truth about Jesus is that He is loving, not condemning. “For God did not send his Son into the world to CONDEMN the world, but to SAVE the world through him” (John 3:17). So, if Jesus/God himself was NOT sent to condemn, then why do we think that we can?
However, I also want to take notice of the second half of the Romans 14:13 verse: “Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” I believe that to prevent any “stumbling blocks” from happening, Christians have to be honest with each other. Being honest involves speaking kindly, and out of love, with fellow brothers or sisters in Christ if there is genuine concern about them and their walk with Christ in some way. (To be completely honest, there will be times when no matter how kindly someone may say something, it may still hurt the person in the moment. But know also that maybe they really did need to hear that, and that it can help them learn in the future.) After all, there is a huge difference between speaking confidentially with a person out of genuine love versus judging them.
And I believe that this can be applied to Christians and non-Christians alike. Loving someone does include talking to someone if you think they are doing something that may be hurtful to themselves. It is heart-breaking to hear of the all the people who have left the church because they feel judged or wronged in some way. While I still believe that no one is perfect, why is it that Christians are notorious for coming across as judgmental and not reflecting the actions of the Jesus we follow? It is a stereotype that can be prevented, and it needs to be prevented now because we are representing Jesus. We can do this by telling others that Jesus saves. That He loves beyond all comprehension. We can do this by showing through our actions that He saves and loves. After all, actions speak louder than words, right?
Sometimes it will be difficult to love for several reasons. Sometimes it will be in our human nature to judge others without even thinking. But when the judging thought pops up, please push it away. Let’s end the stigma attached to Christians that we judge and hate, and instead show them our Jesus who loves and saves. And so I will end this blog post with encouraging you to “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).