*[Jesus said] Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you. -Matthew 7:1-2
I believe that pointing a finger at someone in judgment is often the way some people cover up their own weaknesses. Their theory seems to be, “Judge others before they have a chance to judge you.” I remember a girl in our neighborhood who constantly pointed to obese people and said terrible things about them. She was plump herself, and I often wondered if she criticized others in an effort to keep people from noticing her own weight.
I grew up in a family where judgment and criticism were a part of everyday life. So I became an expert at deciding how other people should live. The devil loves to keep us busy, mentally judging the faults of others. And the shortcomings in other people are often easy to see, especially when we’re looking for them.
There was a time when I enjoyed sitting in the mall, observing people as they walked by. I could usually find something wrong with every one of them. I could point out bad hairstyles, out-of-style clothes, and any number of other “problems.” When we choose to be judgmental, we will find that there is no end to the possibilities.
Notice I used the words “choose to be judgmental,” because that’s exactly what I did. If anyone had called me a judgmental or critical person, I would have denied it, because I wasn’t aware of my negative attitude. I thought I was just giving my innocent opinion. At that time, I wasn’t aware that I had a choice about my thoughts.
Another thing I didn’t think about then was the uselessness of my opinions. I didn’t help anyone by pointing out to my friends what I perceived to be other people’s shortcomings. I now know that we can choose the thoughts we want to focus on. We can’t always choose the thoughts that come to our minds, but we can decide to let them stay and fester or we can push them aside.
It took me a while, but I eventually learned that when the devil brings those harsh, unkind, judgmental thoughts to us, we can use God’s Word to chase them away. There may be no better verse to repeat than Philippians 4:8 to get our thoughts properly centered: “. . . whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”
I went through many years of misery because of judging others. I wanted to be able to say that what others did, or how they looked, was none of my business. And, of course, it wasn’t-but it took me a long time to replace those negative thoughts with all the good things I had to think about.
During the process, God began to hold me accountable for my critical spirit, pointing me to the words of Paul: “Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? . . . why do you look down upon or despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God . . . And so each of us shall give an account of himself [give an answer in reference to judgment] to God. Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother” (Romans 14:10, 12-13).
Who are we? We’re God’s people. As Christians, we’re part of one family-God’s family. And He wants us to love and protect our family members, instead of judging them.
God, so often I’ve compared myself to others and judged them. I know that’s wrong. In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, I ask You to help me defeat every evil, judgmental thought that Satan throws at me. With Your help and through Your Word, I know I can win. Amen.
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