It’s easy to fall into a pattern of judging others. Jesus warned his followers not to judge or to speak against one another. He condemned the Pharisees for their quick and brutal condemnation of anyone breaking religious laws. They accused Jesus of being a glutton and drunkard who passed time with the worst of sinners. They didn’t know him or his intention. Their ignorance led them to crucify Him. Too often we come quickly to judgment because of what we hear or see, but we can’t see the whole picture. More may come to light as time goes on, but a person’s heart is only known by God. God alone is in a position to judge. When we judge we disobey God’s law and we break the commandment that says to love our neighbor as ourselves. We must always be careful not to cause someone to stumble in their faith because of our judgment of them.
Mt 5:7, 7:1-3; Jn 7:24; Ro 2:1, 3, 14:12-13; 1 Cor 4:5; Eph 4:29; Col 2:16-17; Js 2:8, 13, 4:11-12;
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? (Js 4:11-12)
There are some things we can do to break our habit of judging. Remember that the Bible says we will be judged in the same way we judge others, so that should make us fearfully cautious about passing judgment on others. There is a parable in Matthew 18 about a servant who owed a great debt to his master, the king. When the king asked for payment, the man pled for more time to pay; the king was moved with compassion and gave him mercy by completely forgiving his debt. But the servant went out immediately and found another servant who owed him a small amount of money and demanded payment. When the man pleaded with him, he showed no mercy and had him thrown in jail until the debt could be paid. When the king found out, he called for the servant that he had forgiven and sent him to be tortured in prison until he paid his debt because that servant had refused to extend the same mercy the king had given him. That was a sadly missed opportunity. James 2:13 says there will be no mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy. We owed God a great debt that Jesus paid by dying on the cross to save us from our sin. Because we have received mercy, we should freely extend mercy to those around us and to those who need it most. No one appreciates being cut down and demeaned. God calls us to speak words that build others up according to their needs (Eph 4:29).
Are you quick or slow to show mercy? Why? What is the greatest mercy another person has shown you? When have you shown great mercy to someone? What sin are you most judgmental about? Why? What sin are you least likely to judge? Has gossip or slander ever damaged you? On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being little and 10 being a lot), how self-righteous are you? Who needs your mercy now?
Think before you speak. Don’t be a party to gossip. If others are gossiping and you can’t change the subject, don’t listen; go do something else. Don’t say anything that would hurt another person’s feelings or reputation. If you owe someone an apology, go to them and ask for forgiveness.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Ps 19:14). In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.