“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Mathew 7:1
My mother always used to say, ‘Believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you see’ and that was even before Photoshop! Now-a-days we see things all the time that misrepresent reality or the truth. With a few key strokes we can create misleading pictures like these.
I always attributed my mother’s skepticism to being born and raised in New York. But lately, I have been thinking about that saying and how it could be used for good if we apply it to the way we judge other people. What if we were just as skeptical about every negative thing we hear and every questionable thing we see regarding others. What if we didn’t rush to judgement?
The Bible uses the word judge or a form of it over 202 times. Several times in the New Testament we are commanded not to judge. We know this command is not referring to judging in the legal sense, forming opinions of others or ‘discernment’ because other places in scripture encourage us to do this. The judging we are not supposed to do refers to the habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without seeking every possible positive explanation and then expressing these opinions harshly and unnecessarily once formed.
A friend of ours told about an experience he had on his weekly TV program. One particular time he was talking and felt a bead of perspiration fall from his brow and stop right at the bottom of his nostril. When he thought the camera was switching angles he quickly wiped the moisture away. Unfortunately the camera angle made it look like he was picking his nose and our friend received some unkind fan mail!
Something about being falsely judged helps us to not be so hasty in judging others. The following situations helped me to not be so quick to judge. When my youngest child was in kindergarten, she told her teacher that her father had ‘burned down’ the Christmas tree. Fortunately the teacher called to get more information about the incident before turning us into Child Protective Services! What actually happened was we were going to be traveling the day after Christmas to visit friends and family who lived a couple states away. So my husband clipped each branch of our live Christmas tree and put it into our wood stove to burn the tree and dispose of it. The truth was not as titillating as the teacher had expected!
Another time when my daughter was a couple of years older, she told people at our ‘multi-cultural’ church that she would never ‘intermarry’. When I overheard her saying this I was mortified. I didn’t know how many people heard her say this and could only imagine what they may have thought. Knowing her heart and how we raised her, I questioned her to understand what she was trying to say. I was able to clarify what she meant. She had recently read about Samson and how he married a Philistine woman who worshiped other god’s even though the Israelites were forbidden to “intermarry” any of the idol worshipping people who were in the promised land. What she simply meant was she was going to marry a godly Christian man when she grew up.
Not too long ago there was a whole string of commercials created by the mortgage company, Ameriquest that had the slogan “Don’t judge too quickly. We won’t.” They really show that it is very easy to judge people rashly and we are usually wrong when we do.
While the funny Photoshop pictures and Ameriquest videos make us laugh they also serve to remind us that we need to be careful of how we judge others. When we judge people hastily based on something we observed in a brief moment we always judge amiss.
May we live by John Wesley’s admonition. “Judge not – any man without full, clear, certain knowledge, without absolute necessity, without tender love.” LH
“Just Say Know” Bible Study
Day 1 Read Matthew 7:1-5
- According to this passage, what will happen to us if we judge others?
- Do you ever feel like you are always being judged? (If you do, you may want to talk to God about this and examine yourself to see if you are prone to judging others.)
- What do you think Jesus meant in verses 3 through 5?
- What does Jesus call people who judge others?
Day 2 Read Luke 6:31-37
- According to this scripture, how are we supposed to treat others?
- Who are we supposed to be imitating according to verses 35 and 36?
- Do you think there is a connection between our attitude towards others and God’s attitude towards us?
Day 3 Read Romans 2:1-3
- When we judge others according to this text, what are we doing to ourselves?
- What is God’s judgment based on?
- What is our judgment based on?
- Have you ever judged someone who had shortcomings similar to your own?
Day 4 Read 1 Corinthians 4:3-5; James 4:10-12
- Whose job is it to judge?
- What value does human judgment have?
- According to 1 Corinthians does Paul think self-evaluation is reliable?
- When will we be judged by the Lord?
- According to James, what should we be doing instead of slandering and judging our neighbor?
Day 5 Read Isaiah 11:1-4; Psalm 96:11-13
- According to these passages, who will judge.
- According to Isaiah 11:3, what two things will God not judge us by?
- In Psalm 96, why should the heavens rejoice, the earth be glad, the sea resound, the fields be jubilant and the trees of the forrest sing for joy?
- Have you ever thought of judgement in such a positive way?
- What kind of person looks at judgment this way?