“Before you assume, learn the facts; before you judge, understand why; before you hurt someone, feel; before you speak, think.” – Author unknown.
Have you ever been absolutely sure that you were right about someone else’s bad thoughts, hostile feelings, or harmful intentions only to later find that you were wrong? Most likely. While holding this mistaken view of their perspective, did you act in ways that made the conflict worse? Probably. When you later learned of their true thoughts, feelings, or intentions; did you then realize how your own words and actions had contributed to the escalating conflict between you? Yep.
As much as we’d love to say we’ve never judged anyone, having a judgmental heart is a struggle for many of us. If you are one of those people try to understand people and their circumstances before judging them. John 7:24 (NIV) says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” Be open to the idea that your perspective doesn’t show you the entire picture. Ask yourself some questions: Have I given the person a chance to share their perspective? What do I need to know before drawing a conclusion? The more you understand, the less likely you are to judge.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view until you climb inside his or her head and walk around in it. If we did that, it would make a huge difference. Tennessee Williams said: “Hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.” It was Abraham Lincoln who said one day: “I don’t like that man—I must get to know him better”.
In this volatile political environment, it is easy to argue with another person because you haven’t taken the time to understand them. Every person is important to God so every person is worth understanding. Take the time and trouble to get to know others before you make a judgment about them. God wants us to not only understand others but to love them as well. The Bible clearly says we are to love others as much as we love ourselves. Matthew 7:12 says, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.….”
We want others to take time to hear you out. We want others to try to understand where you’re coming from. We don’t appreciate it when people write you off before they understand what you’re saying. We should treat others as we want to be treated. Let’s try to understand where they are coming from; if for no other reason than that’s what we wish others would do for us.
In other words, strive to understand before you strive to be understood.
- Why do you think it is important to understand people before judging them?
- What can we do this week to love more and judge less?