Matthew 7:1-2, NIV
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I`ve discovered people who judge often have a great sense of injustice. Scotland, the land I grew up in, experienced a lot of wars, between the people in the land itself, but also injustice from neighbouring nations. My family was angry at all these injustices that affected them, and were very judgemental.
Judging and criticism also seem to go together with harsh discipline. My grandfather was an officer and a decorated war hero, so for him obedience was essential. He demanded perfection from all his family, but no one was able to attain it. He felt criticising and disciplining was the right thing to do, out of love and concern for us all, in the hope that we would choose a different way of behaving. What others thought of us was important to him, because he didn’t want the family name disgraced.
Receiving judgement causes us to shut our hearts up tight, like a coat in a heavy rain shower. Hearing only what is wrong with you, and what you mustn’t do, doesn’t help you find the way to get closer to God. It only hinders you, until you know God’s compassion in dealing with your wounds and failings. On the other hand, however, loving concern and affirmation of who we are causes us to open our hearts. It’s like taking off our coats to the sunshine.
The Bible tells us that God is the only just righteous Judge, because He knows every person’s heart. He knows what needs to be changed or healed. But how tempting the universal tendency to categorise people we meet is. We place them safely in little boxes in our minds labelled ‘familiar’ or ‘unfamiliar’, but all the while denying that we are prejudiced. Blue collar or white collar, white or black, educated or underprivileged, male or female. Labels become boxes in our minds into which we can admit or reject the people we encounter from day to day.
But we really are probably more alike than different, and we never know who God may want to use to speak to us, to get our attention, or touch our hearts. So the person who irritates us the most may be reflecting the part of us we most dislike, struggle with or find embarrassing. Before too quickly casting judgement on another, perhaps we need to ask God constantly to help us turn the spotlight back on ourselves. Then we may be surprised by who experiences the greatest change in attitude – it just might be me.
I’m grateful to Jesus for his continual help with my tendency to be angry and judgemental through the pain of injustice around me, rather than having a compassionate heart for wounded mankind. It says in Ephesians 2: 14 ‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for the times when we have judged others unfairly. We release all our fears and anxieties that have caused us to do this into Your hands. Help us to receive Your compassionate heart to accept ourselves as well as others. Help us to receive and develop the character and people skills Jesus had. Heal us from the effects of critical words. Fill us with an extra portion of Your love in these troubled times. For Jesus’ name sake, Amen.