“Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith.” – Colossians 4:6 (TPT)).
Have you judged anyone lately? Our initial reaction might be to say no, but if we honestly think about it for a few minutes, we would have to admit that the answer is probably yes. It isn’t always that obvious. The man who cut you off in traffic, the woman that does not dress appropriately in your mind at work, the politician who was caught doing something improper; it is easy to judge. While it may be easy to do it is wrong because it is fundamentally incompatible with authentic Christian faith.
Judgment has a slippery little way of sneaking its way into our hearts if we aren’t paying attention to our motives. As C.S. Lewis said, “See the bear in his own den before you judge his conditions.” We need to remember that Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for arrogant, judgmental people. Conversely, Jesus was pretty much never harsh to people outside the faith. So how does one overcome and restrain our inner Judge Judy?
Look inward before you look outward. If you are a Christian and continually criticize or judge others then you don’t fully understand the grace you received from God. In the musical Les Misérables, there is a scene where Jean Valjean steals some candlesticks from the Bishop of Digne, the priest who takes pity on Valjean. By all rights, Valjean should find himself in prison, probably to die there. But he received mercy and pardon instead. Jean Valjean repented and dedicated the rest of his life to becoming a force for good in the world. People who understand the immensity of the compassion they received will naturally want to extend the same compassion to others. In other words, offering grace.
Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t offer us partial grace. He doesn’t offer us halfway grace. Jesus gave, and continues to give, full grace. The grace that took Him to the cross. This fundamental truth should guide us or redirect us from judging others. The divine grace we receive from Christ should fuel our gracious natures and fill our thoughts and actions. Because we are people who desperately need grace, we should be people who lavishly give grace rather than judging others. How we judge others says far more about us than how we are judged by others. This is why God will judge us in the manner we judge others, not in the manner they judge us. Therefore, we should be quick to believe innocence, charitably slow to pronounce guilt, charitably redemptive when it must be, and silent if at all possible.
The more we refuse to “… grumble about each other…” (James 5:9), the more we will “…encourage each other and build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and the more we will show grace.
- What does it mean to judge others?
- James 1:19 (CSV) says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.” Why is it so important to remember to listen first and be slow to judge according to James 1:19 and the verses above? Why is it better to leave judgment including final judgment to God?