“Don’t judge me!” Who hasn’t heard these words? But should you judge another person? If so, how? What does the Bible say? This guest post by Pastor Paul Tauges, an ACBC Fellow, first appeared here on his website Counseling One Another, and is used with permission.
Jesus instructed His disciples to judge righteous judgment (John 7:24), but He also said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). Is this a contradiction? No.
We are called to use biblical truth and wisdom to discern rightly, but we are foolish when we make judgments based upon appearance or only one side of the story. We are called to maintain a balance of grace and truth, but avoid a judgmental attitude.
This bad attitude is, as Matt Mitchell defines it, “a heart disposition meant to be condemnatory and censorious.”
So, where do we go wrong? When and how does judging become sinful? Mitchell explains three ways.
3 Ways NOT to Judge
1. Rush to Judgment – To form a conclusion about a person based upon hearsay, without going to him to hear the other side, is utterly foolish and destructive. It is folly and shame to answer before listening, to rush to judgment about another person without loving them enough to take the initiative to start a conversation (Proverbs 18:13). Instead we should believe the best about the other person, rather than assume the worst.
If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame. Proverbs 18:132.
2. Prideful Judgment – The deeper problem behind and beneath judgmentalism is pride. Pride is the elevation of oneself not only above other people, but above God’s law (James 4:11). But there “is only one Lawgiver and Judge,” and it’s not us. When we rush to judgment, we play God; “we act as if we are omniscient when we are not.”
3. Unloving Judgment – The opposite of being judgmental is the virtue known as charitable judgment. “Charity” is the old word for love (1 Cor. 13:4-8), which compels us to believe the best about another person.
Loving People Don’t Sinfully Judge
Therefore, Mitchell counsels us well with these words: “If you and I are loving people with this kind of charity, we won’t sinfully judge or gossip about people. We won’t delight in the evil that we hear has befallen someone else. We won’t believe the worst about others. We will always hope for something better.
“Love is tenacious. Love does not pretend that all is well and sweep things under the carpet, but it does hang onto hope for others and believe the best.”