So many people see it as their mission in life to judge others.
Actually, that’s just me using hyperbole; I think it’s just that if someone else does something that makes a person feel uncomfortable, they try to stop that discomfort by any means necessary, including (and, for religious people, especially) by getting God on their ‘side’ in the ‘argument’ as to the perceived right and wrongs of the problem!
Jesus did – sort of, and on the surface – say we could judge others, but only on the huge proviso that we first get our own lives in order. Get the plank out of our own eye before trying to get the speck out of our brother’s eye (Matt 7:3-5). Personally, I almost feel as if Jesus is actually saying do not judge at all. Because in Matt 7:1 He says ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged…’ and then He uses the plank/speck parable to illustrate that actually unless we are perfect – which to be honest none of us are – then we should not judge others at all. I think the parable actually means that its not possible to accurately judge because we have such a blinkered vision – i.e. the plank – that we can never see clearly enough.
However, God can see clearly enough to judge – He can see all the factors that cause a person to behave in that way that makes us feel uncomfortable – and even then He judges in a loving and fair way, not in the self-centred way that we do. Maybe the plank represents that actually the problem is with us rather than with our brother; in the way we receive or respond to the factor causing the discomfort, whether it’s something someone’s said, something someone’s done, or even the way a person is or lives their lives.
Judging others is therefore not something we should do. ‘Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?…..to his own master he stands or falls’ (Romans 14:4)
Sure, often we need to make judgements about certain people’s reliability. ‘Would you buy a used car from this man?’, for example. But that’s a whole world apart from making a character judgement on someone who is just another person and who happens to do or to be something you don’t like, that makes you feel uncomfortable. Something you want to call ‘SIN’ simply because you don’t like it. Something for which you want to get God’s ‘backing’ to add more weight to your argument, where actually all you should be doing is to lovingly bear with that person instead, not judging them.
God’s grace is so much bigger than we can imagine. Learning to bear with one another is part of learning to live in that grace and all its fulness.
By contrast, when I refer to the ‘Dark Side’, I mean that if someone insists on concentrating on the negative aspects of life, like (in this instance) judging others, they are missing out on all the blessings (of that grace and fulness) that God has for those who want them. “The Kingdom of God is not about [rules and regulations], but righteousness, peace and joy in Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). So, as it says in Philippians 4:8, “…brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things….and the God of peace will be with you”. So when I use the word ‘Should’ above, I mean it not in the sense of ‘Here’s more rules for you to follow’, but ‘You’ll miss out on God’s blessing because your own attitude prevents you from entering in’.
Judging others – that way lies the Dark Side!
For another interesting angle on this, take a look at Susan Cottrell’s Freedheart blog entry from a couple of days ago.