We often hear people say, the Bible says, “Don’t Judge Others.” A press release from Barna stated that, in the 2007 survey, “just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a ‘good impression’ of Christianity.”
Among young non-Christians, Barna said, most of the perceptions of Christianity were negative, such as that Christianity is judgmental (87%). Even young Christians are being affected: Half said they perceived their own faith to be judgmental.
Yet, the Bible does teach us to judge others. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” The ability to make judgments about people and circumstances are essential to safety and protection. God never instructs us to not make judgments, but rather he gives us guidelines on how to make judgments. In Matthew Chapter 7 Jesus lays out for us three guidelines for judgments.
GUIDELINE # 1: BE CAUTIOUS
Jesus teaches us not to rush into judgment of people and circumstances. The reason we should be cautious about our judgments is because we shall all be judged one day. Before we judge we need to examine ourselves and make sure that we are not as guilty as those we want to judge. We do not have much right to complain about the mistakes made by people who are doing the work we should be doing.
(Romans 2:1 NKJV) 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.
The second reason we should not be quick to judge others is because we are not God. We have a tendency to think that we know everything about the matter. The truth is we don’t know all the circumstances, or the facts. We need to be more cautious about our judgments until we have learned more about the truth. It is much easier to be critical that correct.
Ultimately, only God is qualified to judge properly because of his infinite knowledge. Thus sometimes we may have to leave the matter and judgment into His hands.
GUIDELINE # 2: BE COMPASSIONATE
The problem that Jesus was addressing in the gospel of Matthew was a group of people who were arrogant and self-righteous. Unfortunately, people do try to act superior to others. But, I like to remind people the ground is level at the foot of the cross!
We all have failures and weaknesses that we need to remember when we are judging others. Instead of focusing on the little specks of dust in other people’s eyes, we should take care of the beam in our own eye. The greatest of all faults is to imagine that you have none.
Jesus also reminds us that whatever we use to measure someone’s life and actions that same measure will be applied to us. Therefore, because I want to be judged mercifully by my peers and God, I will in turn do my best to judge others with compassion. Remember we’re not put on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.
GUIDELINE # 3: BE COURAGEOUS
Being courageous in our judgments means first examining myself. When I am honest and humble then I can face up to my own problems and weaknesses and confess them to God. Once I have cleared up my issues which might take some time, then I can see clearly to make proper judgments.
Jesus warns us about having enough discernment to properly judge a person or circumstance, not to cast pearls before swine. That means I have to be courageous enough to look within and without. Often we trust others who should not be trusted and our pearl of trust is trampled on. Often we cast before people the pearls of our heart and it is taken advantage of or abused. We must train ourselves, and our children, to not be naive, but to be courageous in their judgment and discernment.