Categories: Expressing God, Morality
"Do not judge others," Jesus declared (Matt 7:1 NLT). It sounds simple. But putting this into practice can be difficult. Judgment shows up everywhere. The media is littered with judgments. So are our conversations: He's sure gained weight. That teacher's so unfair. He's going out with her? My boss is such a jerk. And on and on.
So how do we stop it?
We first have to believe that judging others is not okay. Some may argue that we have to be able to judge. Of course we have to judge situations, actions, and ideas to make wise decisions and succeed … but not people.
Jesus was clear: "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you" (Luke 6:37 NLT 6:37). What we send out into the world comes back to us in some way. It's up to us to stop the cancerous cycle of judging or condemning people.
Why? What does judging others do?
- Judging hurts others. It labels them and can ostracize them.
- Criticizing keeps us focused on the negative aspects of someone, which can easily send us into a downward spiral.
- The more negative we are about others, the more negative the world around us appears. Everything's a "no." This can be downright depressing. It's also very lonely. No one likes to be around people who criticize others all the time.
- Judging others hurts us. It limits our options and our relationships. If we leap to judgment and notice only the flaws in someone's character, appearance, or ideas, we're not likely to keep on looking.
- Judging can prevent us from forming relationships that might be incredibly beneficial. We may miss out on becoming friends with an amazing person whose good qualities far outweigh the bad.
- Condemning others prevents us from improving ourselves. We spend so much time complaining about what's wrong with others that we neglect the areas of our own lives that need improvement.
Jesus warned us about this:
"It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor." (The Message, Luke 6:41-42)
How do we stop focusing on others' faults and get our own lives straight? Jesus gave us the solution: "Forgive others, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37 NLT). Forgiveness frees us from any baggage of resentment we're carrying around. It lets us move forward. It allows us to start new relationships -- with others and with ourselves.
- Forgive others for their flaws (or the flaws we see in them). Forgive others for not being who we want them to be or doing what we want them to do. They get to be themselves.
- Recognize that pointing out flaws in others is really self-destructive.
- Then, forgive ourselves for seeing flaws in others. Start seeing ourselves as positive forces for good.
Being negative is a habit; it's not our nature. Our nature is "very good" (Gen 1:31). We can change habits. It just takes awareness, commitment, and practice.
Start new habits:
- Replace the old habit of being negative with the new habit of being positive, encouraging, and complimentary.
- Keep a log of all the negative things we say so we can see how much negativity we're allowing to cloud our lives.
- Start noticing positive things others say and do. Write them down for ideas of what we can say.
- Then, keep a log of all the positive things we say and do.
- If for some reason, we see nothing positive to say, then let's do what we learned when we were little: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. I've heard of people biting their tongues rather than saying something judgmental.
- Actively search out the good. This becomes easy when we ask ourselves: How does God, divine Love, see this person, this situation, this idea?
When we actively search out the good in others, we're doing what Jesus expected us to do. We're seeing the individuals God created. That includes ourselves. Seeing in this way -- through God's supremely and solely loving eyes -- brings healing and transformation to a world that is in desperate need of love that seeks to heal, not to condemn.