“Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” – Romans 14:13 (ESV)
I have noticed a trend in Christian circles of teaching that we must take off our masks and be real with other people. The reason for this is a good one; when we make ourselves out to be something that we are not, we are lying. So, I agree with this teaching – don’t pretend to be someone you are not, and learn to be open with others…it’s a great quality.
But I am here to make you think about the other side of this picture. The part where you hear other people’s openness and then judge them for it. Unfortunately, this is all too common. We think we are entitled to judge ourselves by a different measure than we judge other people, thinking we are holier than they are simply because we judge ourselves by our intentions and them by their actions.
“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I think this quote sums up the dangers of judging one another quite well, so I want to expand on it, to show you why judging others is unacceptable.
We Are All Sinners in Need of a Savior – Even After Salvation
When we pass judgment on other people, we focus on how good we are in comparison. Satan wants us to believe that we are not so bad, that we are mostly ok and not in need of a Savior. By this I do not mean salvation – we know that we need Christ for eternity – however, once we are saved we seem to come to a point of complacency and lack understanding for our continual need of a Savior. While we are on earth we will always need Christ, because we cannot improve our state without His help. Judging others is a way that we use to say “well, compared to him (or her), I really have my life together. He needs Jesus to do some sanctifying”. In doing this we forget that we need Jesus just as much (maybe even more). We are messed up; that’s just reality.
“For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things” – Romans 2:1b (ESV)
But We All Have the Gift of Grace
So while we are all messed up, we have all been given this amazing gift of grace. God’s mercies are new each morning, and not just for you. We tend to remember how forgiving God is to us and forget that He is just as forgiving to everyone else. We also forget that judging others when we don’t use the same measure for ourselves is sin, in itself.
“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?” – Matthew 7:3 (ESV)
Why Are Your Struggles Valid but Not Theirs?
I think a huge reason for judging others is because we just don’t think what they are struggling with is big or important enough, or even true. Sometimes you may think that person should not have that struggle because ‘good people’ don’t have that problem. Your friend explains that she struggles with anger and your response is that everyone has that problem. Maybe your friend shares that he is depressed, but you think his life is great, so how dare he have such an issue. Your friend explains that they are struggling with lustful thoughts, but saved people don’t think about things like that, so just stop. But people better listen when you explain that you haven’t yet gotten victory over your issue. This is hypocritical, even though we don’t like to think of it this way.
I don’t mean to be harsh; I think that judging others is something we all struggle with. One of the problems with teaching on things – whether by talking to a friend, from the pulpit, or in writing – is you know that you struggle with the same things. I have a problem with judging others; I want to judge myself by my intentions and others by their actions. But the first step to change is acknowledgment.
Let us work together, by God’s grace, to stop judging other people and remember that we are all sinners who are in need of a Savior.