Judging people is easy.
Not just easy, it is effortless.
As in you don’t have to do much at all.
All you have to do is get a single fact or tidbit of information about a person and you can easily judge every aspect of their life through that single speck of information as though it were a magnifying glass.
The information you have doesn’t even have to be correct!
It can just be some gossip you over heard or even a lie someone made up.
It is easy.
You and I judge people every day. We judge our friends on the decisions they make. We judge our boss or coworkers based on their title or how they treat us. We judge celebrities we don’t even know based off a website article or the cover of a magazine in the super market. We even judge the person at the stoplight parked beside of us based off of the car they drive.
The point is that it is easy.
Judging others allows you and me to treat people the way we decide that they should be treat. We are allowed to rule our own lives and establish our own standard of righteousness that others must live according to. Judging others lets you and me be in control.
But is that right? Or is it fair? Is it loving?
One group of people that I tend to judge is people who ask me for money. Often times they stand on the corner of the road holding signs that utilize religious language to try and manipulate me into giving them money which I usually assume they will use for their own vices which landed them in this position to begin with.
At least that is what I usually assume.
My judgment keeps me from getting to know them. It keeps me from getting to ask about their story and how they arrived to this point. It keeps me from getting to tell them that God loves them and has not forgotten them as they struggle throughout life. It keeps me from sharing the Gospel with them and ministering to them effectively because it allows me to decide whether or not they are worthy of my kindness and compassion. Judging them keeps me from seeing how the Gospel transforms their story and redeems it for God’s glory. It keeps me trapped by my desire to be the ruler of my life.
My judgments aren’t righteous and they certainly aren’t fair; rather, my judgments are sin in my life that keeps me from knowing God deeper. Our decisions to judge others tell God that He is not good and He is unable to mediate fairly, therefor we must do so for Him. It says that I am the ruler of my own life and am not in need of redemption.
I’m not saying that we do not practice discernment as Believers or that we are just gullible. Jesus even taught that you could discern the intentions of another person according to the fruit in their life (Matthew 7:18-20). Discernment means analyzing the facts to make a decision based off those facts. Judging refers to the self-righteousness of declaring a verdict absent of all the evidence and lacks love and grace.
I had been challenged by this idea for a while. The fact that I’m not called to judge people, just to love them as Jesus did. That as John 3:17 reads:
For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him
Jesus did not come into the world to condemn you and me; rather, He came to save us. I’m not saying that God does not judge sin. In fact, I believe quite the opposite! I believe that He does judge sin. That you and I will stand before Him and He will judge our lives against His statutes and commands. What that means is that I don’t have to. Since He is the only righteous judge and ruler of all, He frees me from judging others. The hope in all of this is that God sent His son Jesus not to judge us, but to save us. That as Christians God has not kept us in the world to judge others; rather, our life goal should be to tell others about Jesus and His power to save. That judging is easy because it is one more way that we can avoid the lordship of Jesus in our lives.
Sunday night my wife and I were heading to a dinner honoring our Sunday school teachers when I stopped to grab something to drink. It was a reminder that little things matter. After paying for my drink I held the door for the woman coming in, not noticing the man behind me. He walked through the door and I paid him little attention. As I got in my car and prepared to pull off I saw him walking towards my car. I rolled down the window and he asked me if I had some change so could put gas in his scooter. He was a middle-aged man, poorly dressed, and his name is Quinton. As I thumbed through the change in the car I realized I had very little I could offer him. It was at that point I remembered I had a $5 bill in my wallet. I took the bill out and gave to him. As I gave him the money, I was able to share the Gospel with him. I got to tell him that God loves Him and that He sent His Son Jesus to die for his sin. I even had an opportunity to invite him to church.
The cynical side of me wants to judge the man and say that he will only use it for alcohol or some other vice. However, the Spirit that now dwells in me realizes that for $5 I was able to share the Gospel with this man. I was able to tell him that God loves him and sent Jesus to die for his sin. That if this man swindled $5 from me it is between him and God and He will mediate the situation justly.
How do we judge other? Where are areas in your life that you need to stop judging others? How could you share the love of Jesus more freely if you allowed God to judge them?