This topic of judging others is very relevant for us today. This is something that affects people inside and outside of the church. One of the main reasons people say they don’t attend church is because they feel judged.
Jesus spoke of judging others in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged."
This verse has been one of the most misused Bible verses I know. It has been used to almost promote an 11th Commandment...THOU SHALT NOT JUDGE!. Some people have interpreted this text to mean that we must not judge at all how someone is living or the choices that they are making. That could not be further from the truth.
What we should understand is that...
Unconditional love does not equal unconditional approval.
We do not need to approve of behavior that is sinful, but we are still called to love. For example, I love my children, but I do not approve of their sinful behavior. I can both love them and disapprove of their behavior. As a matter of fact, it is very unloving to not correct them and discipline them. When we approve of their bad behavior, we are denying them the opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes and conditioning them to live that way.
What I would like to do is address this topic by stating the main point of this post...
A critical spirit causes bad judgement.
When we judge others it should not be done with a critical spirit. Here are...
FOUR CRITICAL SPIRITS TO AVOID:
The Gossiper--The gossiper loves to be in the know about everyone's business. And they love to share it with anyone they can. The gossiper likes to appear powerful or be a source of all knowledge to make themselves feel important.
The Judge--The judge has a harsh and critical point of view. They believe that their point of view is the only right one. They often exaggerate other people's shortcomings while dismissing their own.
The Slanderer--The slanderer is someone who makes false statements for the purpose of damaging another person’s reputation. This person will often make statements against those they are jealous or envious of. They will often try to get the attention off of their own errors by making false claims about others.
The Complainer--The complainer is someone who seems to always have a negative opinion about everything. They are often consumed with other people's mistakes and critique them unashamedly.
When we we judge others with one or more of these critical spirits, we can crush other people's spirits. Our words have power to heal or harm.
Here is something that is interesting, Jesus goes on in verse 2, "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you."
When we judge others with a critical spirit, that will be the measurement used to judge us. A great thing I learned was...
We should have a bucket of grace and a thimble of judgement.
If we live with this principle, we will be less inclined to pour out judgement on others--more grace and less judgement.
So here is our challenge...
How can we live our lives in a such a way as to be discerning in our relationships? How can we be less critical and more encouraging? Take a look at yourself and see which critical spirit seems to reign in your life. Confess it to God and start the process of building people up.
If you are interested in hearing my sermon on this topic, here is the link. The sermon begins at 39:30 into video.