There’s nothing more upsetting than knowing other people are judging you. I know—it’s happened to me, and I felt angry. Who gives them the right to judge me like that? They don’t know anything about me.
I have a feeling it happens all the time—and it’s very easy to get caught up in making judgements that are wrong, unkind and demeaning to the other person, to say nothing of making you look small and petty. Why do we do it? It’s not necessary at all.
- How many times have you formed an impression of someone even before you got to know them well?
- How many times did people who barely know you judge you?
- How many times have you felt bad because you were judged or misunderstood?
I think that when you judge someone, that act says more about you than the other person. When you verbally attack someone, what are you doing? You are showing how small-minded you really are. We have all judged and been judged. It might be over small things, or over bigger issues. Regardless, we do it. The question is why? We use other people as mirrors on which to base our essential view of the world and ourselves. I think that’s the exact reason why it is so easy for us to judge others.
Maybe you judge others to make yourself feel better. It’s like the mother who goes shopping with her toddler. The young guy is well-behaved in the shopping centre—no tantrums. Then you see another mother struggling with her screaming three-year-old grabbing the toy he wants, and you think to yourself, Hmm, I must be doing a great job as a mother. Better than her. You make a judgement. But you have no idea what it’s like for that struggling mother.
The Consequences Of Judging Others
What are the consequences of judging others? When you judge others it can make you feel worse about yourself. You hurt other people. It can perpetuate stereotypes. And you increase the negativity in your heart and stifle the good you can do in the world. Remember how it feels to be judged. It doesn’t feel good to judge or be judged. Try to remember this the next time you are judging or criticising. It was Mother Teresa who once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them”.
Jesus said something very clear in Matthew 7:1-2 (VOICE): “If you judge other people, then you will find that you, too, are being judged. Indeed, you will be judged by the very standards to which you hold other people”. I find that particular translation very helpful. Each of us have faulty perceptions. No-one can truly judge another with 100% clarity because of our own bias and, more importantly, our own sin.
We have many flaws, and we should be careful not to be hypocrites. In Matthew 7 Jesus was specifically rebuking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the religious group, who were very quick to see the sin of others, but were blind and unwilling to hold themselves accountable to that same standard they were imposing on others. The Pharisees were notorious for their condemnation of others.
When I judge another human, I am putting them in a cage. I am saying, I know what you’re like or what you’re capable of. I am confining them. And that is wrong. Who is to say they are really like that? I have discounted God’s movement towards that person. God may be doing something really great in their lives and I have misjudged them. I am not God. Jesus always taught to believe in others, even if no-one else will. Why else did he say we were to love our enemies. This is because God believes people can change. We have infinite potential and it’s not my right or business to stop God doing his work in somebody else’s life, even if I don’t especially like them.
Edward Wallis Hoch wrote this:
There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly becomes any of us,
To Talk about the rest of us.
That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? How we judge others says far more about us than how we are judged by others. This is why God will judge us in the manner we judge others, not in the manner they judge us. I think Jesus is asking us not to have a critical, judgmental spirit. And to stop looking down on others. Unfortunately some of us like to set ourselves up as judge, jury and executioner, and having a harsh and critical spirit.
We like to play the role of judge. But God is the judge. I’m not qualified, and neither are you. You don’t know that person’s history or background or their extenuating circumstances. For most of us all, you don’t know their motives. You see their actions, but you can’t see into their heart. God alone does that. Leave that job to him.