Are we called to judge others? No. And, Yes!
Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
Matthew 7:6 “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”
Matthew 7:20 “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
John 7:24 “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
I want you to walk away from this message with three takeaways:
First, as sons of God, we no longer have a need to exalt ourselves by judging others. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of sound mind.
Second, we are called to judge actions, not people. For in the same way I judge people, I will be judged, and with the measure I use, it will be measured to me. For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Third, we are called to discern the actions of others for the purpose of ministering to them. There is a right way and a wrong way to judge. The right way is spirit-led and results in blessing. The wrong way is evil and divisive. What’s your motive?
For many of us, when we needed the involvement and affirmation of our fathers, we didn’t get it. We didn’t experience love the way God intended, and as a result, our emotional needs were left unmet as small children and we lived like orphans. If we do not experience love—if we do not know love, we cannot function in love with others. You cannot be a father until you know what it is like to be a son. Until your understanding of your Heavenly Father’s love for you travels eighteen inches—from your brain to your heart—you will not desire to follow Christ. You will not experience the Spirit of God working in your life, setting you free from fear and strongholds.
There is a relationship between “low self-esteem” and judging others, and it is easy to identify. Having low self-esteem, or, “false beliefs” about ourselves, is painful; so we naturally look for ways to escape the pain. Pain seeks comfort. Here’s the problem: our protective behaviors are selfish and destructive to ourselves and others.
Instead of self-esteem we should have Christ-esteem. We can stop obsessing on self and obsess on the beauty, wisdom, goodness, patience, compassion, majesty, power, forgiveness, and love of God Almighty. It is impossible to experience the Spirit of God and His blessings for us when we are consumed with taking pride in ourselves, our things, our achievements, and our status.
The answer lies in seeing ourselves as God sees us—the God who loves us and accepts us—the God who knows the number of hairs on our heads. Abba, our Heavenly Father, who guides us in truth and disciplines us in love—perfect love. He is our refuge, provider, and healer. He will never, NEVER fail you nor forsake you. He has a furious longing for our souls. Why? Because He created us!
Our time of healing in Christ requires us to be boldly believe, to have faith in God’s Word, and demands that we apply truth to the false beliefs resulting from wounds of rejection, abandonment, abuse, and failure in the past. The false beliefs—”I’m unlovable, undesirable, dirty, defective, useless“—inevitably lead to shame, and then we need to find a way to hide it, cover it, escape it, or control it. The easiest way for many of us to cover our shame is by judging others—we lift ourselves up by pulling others down in judgment.
In the past I believed my value was defined by how I compared to others, so pulling others down had the same effect as lifting myself up—and it was much easier. But what happens when the Lord sets us free from the need and desire to compare ourselves to others? The fear of God leads to wisdom but the fear of man is a snare, amen?
2 Corinthians 10:12 “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”
The definition of “understanding” in Job 28:28 is “turning from evil.” When a man compares himself to another he is turning to evil. The wisdom of man is earthly, sensual, and demonic–driven by envy and selfish ambition. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy.
My lifelong process of pulling down others by attaching fault and assigning motives to their actions bore the bitter fruit of delusion judgmentalism. I judged others with the motive of finding them lacking, to find fault, as a means to feel better about myself. Then it got even worse. As I continued to practice this evil behavior, rooted in deceit and delusion, the cheese slid completely off the cracker. It wasn’t long before I lived in a fantasy world where I judged everyone who crossed my path. These are the works of a broken, unforgiving soul steeped in shame.
When there is no motivation to compare, there is no motivation to find fault—Hallelujah. The Lord commands us to do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Why would I do that? Because I have been pulled from the muck and mire, forgiven, and saved by grace, through faith; but I don’t know if others who cross my path are—I don’t know if the next person I pass knows the love of Christ, and I really want them to.
When I was in school I attached fault to anyone who was a better athlete, better looking, more stylish, had nicer possessions, or a better reputation than me. I was especially judgmental of people who threatened my sources of pride, like “cool” hair.
When another student threatened my sources of pride (idols) I became judgmental and critical of them, and my value challenged. As a defense mechanism, because I did not know love, I had a need to manufacture lies about them in order to feel good about myself. This was a sinful, destructive, protective behavior; an ungodly tool for self-preservation, to cover the exposure of my nakedness, because I did not know the love of God.
As fruit often comes in a cluster, the bitter fruit of judging others often comes with a cluster of other destructive attitudes and behaviors. Judging others can be accompanied by a critical spirit, anger, delusion, cynicism; fueled by pride.
There Is Only One Judge
It is important to understand the difference between judging actions and judging people, and the motives with which we judge. God and only God is the judge of people.
James 4:12 “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, He who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
There are a couple of ways we judge incorrectly. It is wrong to make a determination or pronouncement over another. For example, if I were to say, “you are a fool.”
It is wrong to make a determination or pronouncement over another, and then sentence them in your heart. For example, if I were to say, “you are a fool and will burn in hell.”
However it is correct judgment to judge another’s action, in love, for the purpose of ministering truth to them. For example, “don’t condemn yourself for making a foolish choice–use this experience to help others and glorify God.”
Making “positive” judgments can also be detrimental. My friend Ronnie doesn’t tell her grandchild he is intelligent, she tells him he made an intelligent choice. Why? Because if he believes he is more intelligent than everyone else, it is likely he will improperly judge himself/others. If he is told over and over as a child that he is intelligent, he may become anxious and depressed when he experiences failure as an adult.
False Judging Interferes With Our Healing
After coming to Christ, continuing on in the sin of falsely judging others will paralyze our growth and inner healing in several ways.
First, constantly focusing on the faults of others, we can fail to look at the real source of our problem: Our beliefs about ourselves. If we believe we are unworthy, unlovable, undesirable, useless, or defective, then we experience an emotional need to exalt ourselves. If we believe that no one has “got” us because we do not know the love of the Heavenly Father, we will be driven by an orphan spirit.
This may be our primary reason for being judgmental; because it is a powerful defense mechanism. Absorbed—sometimes obsessed with the faults of others—I had little time and no desire to examine my own hearts. When you hear someone judging another you are seeing someone behaving like a coward. Man up!
Second, being judgmental, being angry all the time, having a critical spirit—makes us unattractive people, and others don’t want to be around us. In the past we may have purposely created division and ways to isolate ourselves so we wouldn’t have to deal with ourselves—with our shame and the ensuing emotional pain.
Proverbs 18:1 “One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.”
The problem is isolation keeps us from being able to enter into the kinds of relationships that are necessary for healing and receiving love. Blame, anger, and a critical spirit are defense mechanisms, designed to shift the focus from us, and prevent our nakedness from being exposed. But the result is destruction and division. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
When we try to hide our judgmentalism beneath a “nice person” veneer, others see and sense our “unrealness,” and they are put off by it.
Third, falsely judging others is a sin, and like all unrepented and unconfessed sin, it interferes with the growth of our relationship with the Lord, the source of all healing. It is a sin because it violates the law of love, and love is always ready to edify, encourage, and comfort. But the flesh is always ready to blame, to accuse, to think the worst. Being judgmental separates us from God and hardens our hearts.
Battling A Judgmental Spirit
We battle a judgmental attitude through a humble spirit within ourselves, and a loving spirit for one another. We must remember to engage in battle every time we start to judge people and not their actions, holding thoughts captive to obey Christ.
Romans 2:1 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”
We are often most critical of those traits in others that we most hate in ourselves. When being judgmental, check yourself to see if this isn’t what is going on, and if it is, confess and repent.
Luke 6:41 “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
Nothing short-circuits unrighteousness judgments like this passage. As Chaplain Gabe says, “my sin looks so much worse on you.”
Matthew 5:41 “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
Often times what other people do is truly objectionable and unreasonable. The words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount call us to be “unreasonable” in our responses, unreasonably kind to others because God loved us first. This passage has special significance in relationship to those we are closest to in day-to-day life: family members, neighbors, co-workers, brothers and sisters in Christ
The decision to forgo our rights and minister to the other person as he or she is, when it is made in response to the Lord’s command, will bring great peace. In this peace we are set free from the need to judge. When our hearts are filled with the love of God, we become kind, one to another; we become tenderhearted and forgiving, just like Jesus.
1. We are called to judge actions, not people. We are commanded to discern the actions of our brothers and sisters for the sole purpose of ministering to them; correcting and restoring them with gentleness—guided by truth and compassion.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
– In order to warn those who are idle and disruptive, we must discern that they are indeed idle and disruptive.
– In order to encourage those who are fainthearted or disillusioned, we must discern that they are fainthearted or disillusioned.
– In order to help those who are weak, we must discern that they are weak.
Another thing, if your brother, who you are close with, is finding fault or assigning motives or blame to others—correct him—let him know that the measure he judges others will be measured against him. The reason you do this is because you love your brother and you want the best for him, amen?
2. There is no longer a need to exalt ourselves—we are children of God, Amen? We are immersed in God’s love for us. We are clothed in righteousness, swimming in abundance, cup overflowing.
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”